How Much Does Freon Cost? | 2024 Guide

By Tamara Jude Updated January 23, 2024

Typically costs range from $200 to $500.

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Expect to pay around $300 on average, or between $200 and $500* to add freon to your AC unit. Part of understanding air conditioning (AC) costs is understanding how refrigerant works. Freon is a refrigerant brand, but it’s become a generic name for the important substance your AC uses to cool your home. An air conditioning system won’t need a freon recharge unless there’s a refrigerant leak, but these leaks do happen. Repairing leaks and recapturing spilled refrigerant will cost more. Our guide outlines the factors that affect this price.

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Two outdoor air conditioning units connected to a residential home.
Central AC Installation Cost

Central AC unit costs range from $3,800 to $7,700.

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Outdoor air conditioner compressor unit installed outside a family home.
Heat Pump Installation

Heat pump costs range from $3,700 to $11,000.

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Mini split air conditioning unit installed on a wall inside a home. Window with curtains in the background.
Split AC Installation

Split AC units costs range from $3,700 to $11,000.

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*Article cost data sourced from Fixr and Home Advisor.


Major Cost Factors of Freon

Freon replacement cost is primarily determined by the AC unit’s size and type, as well as the potential need for recapture and disposal of spilled refrigerant.

Cost by Size of AC Unit

A central air conditioner’s size is measured in tons. The larger the tonnage, the more pounds of refrigerant it requires and the more the refill will cost. Including both materials and labor, here’s how home AC recharge costs typically break down by AC size.

AC Unit Size in TonsPounds of RefrigerantCost Range
12–4$100–$350
1.53–6$100–$500
24–8$150–$700
2.55–10$200–$900
36–12$250–$1,200
48–16$350–$1,500
510–20$500–$1,800

Cost by Type of AC Unit

Your air conditioner type also determines freon costs, primarily due to the system’s size. Window AC units cost the least, central AC units cost the most, and ductless mini-split systems are in the middle.

Type of UnitCost Range
Window unit$100–$200
Mini-split$100–$300
Central AC$150–$600

Cost by Freon Recovery and Disposal

The refrigerant refill cost is just one part of the total project price. Refrigerant lines create a closed system, meaning that freon doesn’t evaporate out of your HVAC unit over time. Thus, if your air conditioner has low refrigerant, that nearly always means there’s a freon leak. Since AC coolant is toxic to both people and the environment, an HVAC professional will need to properly recover and dispose of any spilled material. This usually adds $50 to $150 to the project cost.

Labor Cost

You must hire an HVAC contractor for a freon refill. These professionals usually charge between $50 and $200 per hour, and there may be a minimum fee of $75 to $200. Labor costs can vary seasonally since HVAC technicians are in high demand during the hottest and coldest weather.


Other Potential Cost Factors to Consider

Here are some other considerations that may impact freon replacement costs. 

AC Unit Age

We’ll cover the different freon types and their associated costs in a later section, but be aware that some refrigerants are being phased out due to their harmful environmental impact. If you have an air conditioner manufactured before 2010, it may run on a type of freon that is now scarce and expensive.

AC Conversion Cost

If the type of refrigerant your AC uses is expensive to refill, you can permanently convert to a different type to save money long-term. Expect to pay $2,000 to $4,500 for this investment. More conversions will become necessary as older refrigerants are phased out, so it’s likely that the average system conversion cost will rise. Converted systems aren’t as efficient as HVAC units originally designed to run on alternative refrigerant, so you may want to replace your AC unit entirely or install a different system, such as a heat pump.

Cause of the Leak

If you have a newer HVAC system that develops a refrigerant leak, it may be due to a manufacturing defect. If the unit is still under warranty, the manufacturer may reimburse you for the freon recapture and refill cost. Likewise, if the problem is due to improper installation, your system may still be under the HVAC company’s workmanship warranty. Freon leaks in older systems are more commonly caused by metal erosion or general wear and tear to rubber seals—issues that fall outside the coverage window after a few years.

Repairs

A freon leak will often occur as part of larger damage to an air conditioner. If this is the case, you may need to pay additional AC repair costs along with the refrigerant refill price. Here are some common prices for various repairs.


Cost of Refrigerant per Pound

Refrigerant costs are usually assessed by pound. The refrigerant type also factors into the price, particularly because recent legislation has banned the use of certain harmful refrigerants. The Clean Air Act classifies refrigerants as ozone-depleting substances, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is phasing out the main offenders. Thus, certain types of freon are becoming difficult and expensive to buy.

R-22

R-22 refrigerant was once the standard in American HVAC systems, but as of 2020, the United States no longer allows this chemical to be produced or imported. Top air conditioner brands have already stopped manufacturing R-22 systems, but some AC units made before 2010 may still have R-22 freon. Many of these systems can be converted to use other types of refrigerant since R-22 is now so rare that it costs up to $80 per pound. Whenever possible, homeowners should work with their HVAC contractors to find an alternative to R-22.

R-454B

As R-410A is phased out, R-454B is set to become the most common replacement. Because it’s still early in the process, prices for R-454B are in flux and we’re currently unable to determine its average cost per pound.

R-410A

R-410A, sometimes sold under the brand name Puron, is currently the most common R-22 substitute. However, R-410A is also damaging to the ozone layer and is being phased out in 2024. Newly manufactured air conditioners no longer use this type of refrigerant, but R-410A is still available for use in older systems. Its changing status means the price is somewhat volatile (and has increased in recent years), but it’s usually between $12 and $25 per pound.


How Do You Know Your AC System Is Low on Freon?

If your air conditioner has a freon leak, you may see the following signs.


Professional vs. DIY Freon Replacement

Refrigerant recapture and refill must be performed by a professional. Here’s why:

Professional Freon Replacement

Section 608 of the Clean Air Act restricts the sale of refrigerant to licensed HVAC professionals. Simply put, it’s illegal to sell the type and amount of refrigerant used in residential ACs to unlicensed homeowners. Even if you could buy it, you wouldn’t have the correct training or safety equipment to handle it. Thus, you’ll need to budget for labor costs as part of a freon refill.

DIY Freon Replacement

Like most air conditioner repairs, freon replacement is not a do-it-yourself (DIY) job. HVAC professionals train and study for their licensure, and they maintain it by keeping up with field advances and new regulations. They’ll know what refrigerant type your system needs, how to replace it, and whether any leaks need repairing. You can protect your health and your air conditioner’s integrity by focusing on other DIY projects instead.


How to Hire a Professional

Here are some tips for finding a professional to refill your AC freon.


How to Reduce Freon Costs

Here are some ways to save money on refrigerant, which can also help to reduce your electric bills and overall AC wear and tear. 


Our Recommendation

Your air conditioner is manufactured to use a certain type of refrigerant, and it will cool air most efficiently using that type—even if it’s been converted to use another. Since you’ll need to hire an HVAC contractor to refill your AC system’s freon, we recommend speaking with them if you have concerns about the cost or eco-friendliness of your system’s refrigerant. If you’re using an outdated air conditioner, it may be time to upgrade to a newer, more efficient system.

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Freon Cost FAQ

How long does Freon in a house AC unit last?

Like all refrigerant types, freon lasts for the air conditioner’s lifetime. It doesn’t evaporate or get used up, and it should only need replacing if there’s a leak.

How much does Freon removal cost?

If freon has spilled from your air conditioner, recovery and disposal will usually cost between $50 and $150.

Do all air conditioners need to be recharged?

An air conditioner doesn’t need to be recharged with refrigerant unless a leak has developed and some refrigerant has escaped.