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HVAC tech refilling freon

How Much Does Home AC Freon Cost? (2024 Prices)

Typical price range: $200–$640

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Author Image Written by Brenda Woods Updated 06/21/2024

AC refrigerant is the liquid that allows air conditioners to cool the air, and Freon is a branded type of AC refrigerant. It’s such a common brand name that it’s become synonymous with the product, much like Kleenex or Xerox.

Over time, refrigerant can leak out of an air conditioning system, keeping it from doing its job. A Freon recharge is a very common AC repair, though if you need one, there’s probably also a leak somewhere that needs repairing. The average refrigerant refill cost is $200–$640 for a central AC unit, though fixing the leak may cost more.

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HVAC Installation

Installation costs for common air conditioning units range from $500–$2,500.

Man working on a HVAC system
HVAC Repair

Depending on the repair, the typical cost ranges from $100–$2,000.

Energy efficient heat pump next to a house
Furnace Installation

Installing an electric furnace will typically cost $1,600–$9,700.


What Are Signs You Need To Refill Home AC Freon?

Freon and other types of refrigerant are vital to the job of any air conditioning unit. The refrigerant starts out as a liquid, but as it passes through the interior air handler, it draws heat from the air and turns into a gas. This refrigerant gas is then sent to the outdoor condenser unit, where the compressor cools it off and compresses it back into liquid form. The refrigerant then cycles through the system again, removing more heat from the interior of the home.
If your AC unit is working correctly, adding Freon should not be part of HVAC maintenance. It’s only when a leak develops that you may need an AC recharge of new refrigerant. If the AC system is running but blowing warm air, you likely need a recharge. However, the process is more complicated than simply adding new refrigerant. A Freon leak is a serious environmental problem, and the leaked refrigerant must be recaptured and disposed of by an HVAC professional.

How Much Does a Home AC Recharge Cost on Average?

A simple refill for a window-mounted air conditioner is at the low end of the cost spectrum. At the high end is a recharge and major leak repair for a 4-ton central AC. The following average reflects the approximate cost of a recharge and minor leak repair for a 2-ton AC unit requiring 5 pounds of refrigerant.


What Does Home AC Freon Cost Per Pound?

Different types of refrigerant have different costs by weight. They also have slightly different chemical makeups and are named with an R followed by a number. You will need to use whichever type your system is built to run on. R-410A refrigerant, sometimes sold under the brand name Puron, is the most common for home AC systems and refrigerators made after 2010. Other R-400 series refrigerants are used in cars or commercial applications.

R-22 Freon used to be the most popular type, but because it’s a chemical that depletes the ozone layer, it is being phased out in the United States under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act. It’s no longer produced or imported. You may still be able to get R-22 refrigerant for older systems, but it’s very expensive and difficult to find and most R-22 systems can be converted to run on other types. If not, you will have to replace your old air conditioner.

Here are the material and total installation costs for common refrigerants.

Type of RefrigerantMaterial Cost per PoundTotal Cost per Pound

What Does Freon Cost by AC Unit Size?

The size of an air conditioner is measured in tons. This doesn’t refer to the unit’s weight, but rather how much air it can cool in a certain time period. As a general rule, air conditioners need about 2–4 pounds of refrigerant for every ton of cooling power. Below is how much it will cost to refill differently-sized AC units with the most common household refrigerant, R-410A.

Air Conditioner Size (in Tons)Pounds of RefrigerantCost Range

How Much Does Freon Cost by Type of HVAC Unit?

Different HVAC system types come with different refrigerant costs, mostly depending on the system size. As you might expect, air conditioners that cool an entire house will cost much more to recharge than a window unit.

Type of AC UnitAverage Recharge Cost
Central air conditioner$150–$600
Heat pump$150–$600
Mini-split AC unit$100–$300
Window AC unit$75–$240
Central air conditioners cool entire homes using a network of ducts that carry air to multiple rooms. They’re composed of two units: an indoor air handler and an outdoor condenser. To work, the refrigerant must run through both units. Remember that central AC systems take about 2–4 pounds of Freon for every ton of cooling. Since most home air conditioners have a size of about 1.5–2 tons, they will cost $150–$600 to fully recharge.
A heat pump works differently than an air conditioner, but it still requires refrigerant to run. These systems move hot air outdoor in the summer and indoor in the winter. Refrigerant for heat pumps is measured approximately the same way as for central AC units—2–4 pounds per ton of cooling—so the Freon refill cost is similar at $150–$600. If you have to replace a heat pump, the cost will average $5,000.
Mini-split systems are smaller than central air conditioners, and they’re usually set up to control temperature in individual rooms. They don’t require ductwork, so they’re easier to install, but they do have both an indoor and outdoor unit. Since they’re smaller than central AC systems, they require less refrigerant. Depending on the system size, Freon costs for mini-splits may range from $100–$300.
Used to cool only one room at a time, window air conditioners contain the air handler and condenser in a single unit. Simple to install and maintain, they are the smallest type of AC system and thus require the least refrigerant. Recharge costs for window units can range from $75–$240.

How Much Does Freon Recovery and Disposal Cost?

If your air conditioner has had a refrigerant leak, part of repair costs will go to recapturing and properly disposing of the Freon spill, which is an environmental pollutant. Older refrigerants like R-22 are chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, that travel into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. More recent alternatives like R-410A are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that still contribute to climate change, albeit to a lesser extent. 

The reclamation fee for a Freon leak is usually built into the refill price, but if you need to pay for it separately, it typically costs $30–$100.

What Factors Impact Home AC Recharge Costs?

In addition to the HVAC system size and type, here are some other factors that help determine project cost.

Refrigerant recharge jobs must be handled by a licensed HVAC technician. Often, homeowners will be charged a flat fee of $50–$130 for the service call, plus rates of $50–$150 per hour for the actual work. Labor rates will vary due to local cost of living and time of year—when HVAC contractors are in higher demand, they may charge more for their work.
If you live in a hot climate, your air conditioner will face more strenuous use, which may increase your chances of HVAC problems. This could make a refrigerant leak more likely, but extra use alone shouldn’t mean you need to refill your refrigerant more often. Additionally, in places and times where HVAC contractors are more in demand—like the American South during summer—their services may cost more.
If there is an air conditioner refrigerant leak—which is by far the most common cause of insufficient Freon in the system—you’ll pay between $400–$1,500 to have it fixed. This cost will depend on where in the system the leak is. The evaporator is the most likely place, but leaks can also develop in the condenser coil or other parts of the refrigerant line.

Alternatively, an AC service technician may find that the real issue isn’t a refrigerant leak. Here are some other common problems that cause air conditioners to stop working (and the cost to fix them).

  • Dirty air ducts: $450–$1,000
  • Dirty coils: $50–$350
  • Clogged condensate drain: $75–$200
  • Lack of maintenance: $70–$200
  • Thermostat failure: $50–$500

If your air conditioner is old, it may need major parts replaced, such as the evaporator coil which will cost $600–$2,400 or the compressor ($800–$3,000). Since replacement costs for these parts are so high, if they break, homeowners should consider replacing the air conditioning unit entirely. Installing a new AC system can cost anywhere from $2,500–$8,000, depending on the unit’s size.

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Should You DIY vs Professional Freon Recharge?

According to EPA regulations, only licensed HVAC technicians can handle Freon and other refrigerants, which means this isn’t a DIY job.

Professional Home AC Freon Replacement

As of 2018, you must have a license and training to legally purchase or handle refrigerant, or recover any refrigerant spillage. Although new, more environmentally friendly alternatives are being tested, the ones in use still pose a threat to human health and the ozone layer. A professional will have the knowledge and equipment to safely handle and dispose of these chemicals. They’ll ensure that any leaks get fixed to prevent future spills. Pros will also usually offer a warranty or guarantee on their work.

DIY AC Freon Replacement

You can’t legally purchase refrigerant in the US without an HVAC certification. In fact, you may face a fine of up to $10,000 for illegally handling these chemicals. Thus, it’s imperative to hire a professional for jobs involving refrigerants.

Is It Worth Getting Your AC’s Freon Recharged?

When your air conditioner stops working, it’s time to call a professional HVAC technician. We recommend getting estimates from at least three providers before making your choice. If the problem with your AC is a refrigerant leak, you’ll likely need to have it fixed in addition to a Freon recharge. Some HVAC professionals include minor leak repair in the recharge cost, but major leaks will often cost more. This can be expensive, but it’s worth it to have a working air conditioner.

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FAQ About Recharging AC Freon

How long does Freon in a house AC unit last?

Freon and other refrigerants don’t run out or evaporate over the lifespan of an air conditioner. You shouldn’t lose Freon unless there’s a leak in the coolant lines, though this is fairly common after 15–20 years of use.

How do you know if your house AC is low on Freon?

Here are some signs that the problem with your air conditioner is low refrigerant.

  • Hissing or bubbling sounds coming from the AC unit
  • Ice on the refrigerant line
  • Increasing electric bill
  • Warm air blowing from the vents

Can I add Freon to my home AC by myself?

Only a licensed HVAC professional can purchase, handle, or refill refrigerants like Freon. Thus, you cannot recharge your air conditioner’s refrigerant levels yourself.

Can you run an AC unit without Freon?

If the refrigerant levels in your air conditioning system are low, you may be able to run it for a short amount of time and get a small amount of cool air. However, this will likely damage the AC unit and could end up requiring even more costly repairs. If you suspect a refrigerant leak, shut off the system and call an HVAC technician as soon as possible.

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