Freon Refrigerant Cost & Availability
How much does freon cost per pound? In my 35+ years as an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning) Technician, this is a question I’ve answered often. Freon refrigerant cost & availability is changing rapidly in recent years now that production has been banned in the U.S.
Now, in 2023, more changes to the refrigerant used in home AC units have already begun. While not the most fascinating topic, understanding what’s happening could save you as a homeowner a lot of money!
Is Freon Illegal in 2023?
Last week a friend of mine asked me if Freon was illegal. He’d had an AC company tell him his AC unit was 50% low on Freon and needed to be replaced. My friend (a welder), felt uneasy with the information he’d been told – including that it was, “illegal to install Freon.” I shared information in this article with him and recommended a company that serviced his area to provide a 2nd opinion.
Is it illegal to install Freon is the U.S? No, it is NOT illegal to install Freon.
It is illegal for manufacturers to produce new Freon (aka 22 or R-22) in the United States as of 1/1/2020. It is also illegal to import Freon into the U.S. from other countries. However, it is not illegal to for an EPA Certified technician to install Freon that was purchased legally before the ban.
“Freon is Illegal” is a scare tactic! Again, it’s illegal to manufacture or import R-22 now. It is perfectly legal to install it in a previously installed air conditioning system. While writing this article, I found numerous air conditioning company’s websites that stated it was illegal to install Freon! It’s one thing for a technician to be misinformed and give a homeowner bad information – it’s another thing for the company itself to publish blatantly false information.
Freon vs. Puron vs. Refrigerant
Both Freon and Puron are trademarked brand names of refrigerant. Freon is a brand of R-22 refrigerant, Puron is a brand of R-410a refrigerant. If your home AC unit was installed more than 15 years ago, it likely uses R-22 refrigerant. AC units installed in the last 15 years most likely use R-410a refrigerant. The “R” stands for refrigerant, so technically adding refrigerant to the end is redundant.
All air conditioners, no matter the brand, use refrigerant. Your AC most likely uses either R22 or R410a, however may use a different brand other than Freon or Puron. Think, Q-Tip, Jell-O, and Kleenex – all trademarked brand names we all use to describe a swab, gelatin, and tissues.
Freon Cost Increasing as it Becomes Harder to Get
In my friend’s case, I explained while the information he was given wasn’t accurate, adding Freon may be unadvisable. With availability of R-22 diminishing in recent years, the cost of Freon per pound has increased significantly. Frankly, an AC unit as old as his is probably not worth repairing much longer but there are personal factors to consider also. Personal finances play a huge role in a ‘repair vs. replace’ scenario, however repairing an old AC can get costly too.
That said, although R-22 Freon is becoming scarcer and more expensive, it is not non-existent in the U.S. I believe there is enough Freon stockpiled around the country to last for many more years. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either misinformed or purposely manipulating the facts. However, anyone who advises you it’s in your best interest to replace an R-22 unit is giving good advice in my professional opinion.
Puron and Other R-410a Refrigerant Brands Going Away
Puron aka R-410a was refrigerant developed to replace Freon (R-22). Like its predecessor, Puron and all other brands of R-410a are going away. As of January 1st, 2025, air conditioner manufacturers will no longer be allowed to use 410a in their new units. As today is the 2nd day of 2023, we are already less than 2-years away from this next big change.
Although we still have 2 years to go, these refrigerant changes have already begun impacting every homeowner and their wallet. Several manufacturers are already in the process of building new air conditioners that no longer use R-410a. Some of these units are already on the market, and we can expect to see many more coming in 2023.
R-410a Replaced With R-32 and R-454b
There are two major differences this time around than when Puron replaced Freon.
- Manufacturers can choose to replace 410a with 1 of 2 different refrigerants this time, R32 or R454b
- The new refrigerants are classified as semi-flammable (whereas neither Freon nor Puron were).
Every manufacturer gets to choose which of the new refrigerants they will use in their new units. Many already have and unfortunately, they’ve chosen differently. I personally think it would’ve been best to have some uniformity across the board – it would’ve been best for consumers. Unfortunately, the federal government makes the rules, not me, so here we are.
The fact that there will be two new refrigerants will certainly impact homeowners’ wallets. The cost of additional tools, technical training, even procedures will increase twice as much, as well as the probability of mistakes.
Wait, You Didn’t Lead With “Semi-Flammable” Refrigerant?
As the owner of an HVAC company, I’m not thrilled that the industry is moving from non-flammable to semi-flammable refrigerant. However, we in the HVAC industry work with dangerous chemicals, torches, combustible gasses, etc., every day already. Heck, I also own The Fire Place by Magic Touch – we literally build and repair fireplaces and fire pits!
I’m certain that the seasoned, professional HVAC companies of the world will provide the training and tools needed to keep consumers safe. What concerns me more is the ‘side hustle’ technicians of the world and the homeowners who hire them because they were “way cheaper.” But I digress, this blog is meant to keep homeowners informed, not gripe about what’s wrong with government regulation and the free market.
R-410a Will Be Available for Years and Legal to Install
Puron replaced Freon over a decade ago and Freon is still available (more expensive, but available). Rest assured, even though R410a is being replaced by R32 & R454b, it will be available for many years. In fact, I recently installed a new heating & AC system in my own mom’s home and chose 410a over the newer refrigerants. I purchased the same 410a unit that I installed in my mother’s home for my own home workshop.
My advice is don’t be afraid to purchase a new 410a system out of fear of not being able to get refrigerant. It will not be illegal to install R-410a, just as it’s not illegal to install R-22. It will also be available to purchase for many years to come. Will it get more expensive? Yes, R410a will get more expensive as the years pass – so will R32 & R454b.
AC Repair & Replacement Near You!
Regular readers of our blog know that we post unbiased articles with ‘just the facts’ like this one every week. It’s for the same reason we sell many brands and show you them side by side, price and all – people do business with companies they trust. Everyone on the Magic Touch team wants to earn your business and keep earning your business. We want you to refer us to your kids, neighbors, and friends because you know they can trust us too!
We don’t sugarcoat the facts, we don’t use scare tactics, and we don’t “push” a specific brand. We’ll give it to you straight if you’re trying to determine whether to repair or replace, just like the straight facts in this article.
So, the next time you need some work on your AC unit, heating system, fireplace, or fire pit, give us a shot. Even if you have a company you’ve worked with before, and has done you well, you may just find we’ll work a little harder to exceed your expectations!
Are you about to replace your current AC unit? If so, don’t do it before you call Magic Touch. There’s a reason we have a 4.8 Star rating out of over 3k online customer reviews, an A+ rating with the BBB for 26 years. There’s also a reason we’re a BBB Ethics Award Winner and USA’s Top Contractor according to ACCA!
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