closeup of Freon AC pink tank

AC Freon is a term that many people have heard, but few understand. You are probably aware that air conditioners use a substance called Freon, but you might not know what Freon is and what role it has in an air conditioner’s operation.

Freon is a type of refrigerant. All air conditioners, including the ones in your home and vehicle, use refrigerants to cool warm air. It might surprise you to know that not all air conditioners use Freon. Nearly all air conditioners manufactured in this century use a Freon substitute.

Freon leaks are common air conditioner issues. Air conditioners can continue to run with Freon leaks, but they do not function properly. Eventually, they cease working altogether. Freon leaks have telltale signs that can alert you before your air conditioner gives out. Freon leaks can lead to irreparable damage and pose health risks. Luckily, professional HVAC technicians can repair leaks and refill Freon.

ACs for sale

Discover Top-Grade Air Conditioners: View Our Products Today

What is AC Freon?

Freon is a type of refrigerant, a colorless gas used in air conditioners, refrigerators, and humidifiers to cool warm air. “Freon” is a brand name owned by DuPont that refers to the refrigerant blend R-22, but the term is often used to refer to any air conditioning refrigerant. R-12 and R-410A are two other types of refrigerants.

Theoretically, the Freon in your air conditioner could last forever without needing to be recharged. However, air conditioners typically sustain a Freon leak after ten or fifteen years.

How Does the Refrigeration Cycle Work?

Refrigeration is the process of cooling by the removal of heat. The refrigerant in your air conditioner absorbs heat and humidity from the air in your home and transfers the heat outside. The freshly cooled air is blown throughout your house via the ducts and vents.

Refrigerant flows through an air conditioning system in a circuit, and the various parts of an air conditioner assist in the heat removal process. The refrigerant continually cycles from a gas to a liquid during the process.

The compressor performs the initial step in the cooling process when it receives the refrigerant that has absorbed heat from the home’s air. At this point, the refrigerant is a warm, low-pressure vapor. The compressor applies energy until the refrigerant becomes a hot, high-pressure vapor.

The condenser releases the heat the refrigerant has absorbed. The refrigerant moves through the condenser coils while a fan supplies cool air, and the condenser’s metal fins conduct heat away and into the outside air. The refrigerant condenses as it cools, becoming a high-pressure liquid.

Before returning to the house to repeat the heat removal process, the refrigerant flows through the expansion valve, a metering device that lowers the refrigerant’s pressure.

The cold, low-pressure, liquid refrigerant flows through the evaporator coil’s tubing while warm air from the house passes over the coil. Heat and humidity are absorbed from the air and a fan blows the cooled air into the home through the vents. The warm refrigerant then flows outside to the compressor to repeat the cycle.

Types of Refrigerants

The refrigerant blends R-12, R-22, and R-410A can be classified by their chemical compositions into one of three groups: CFCs, HCFCs, and CFCs.

CFC R-12 air conditioner refrigerant tank






Global Warming Potential:


Ozone Depletion Potential:


Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) like R-12 were popular refrigerants until they were determined to contribute to greenhouse gasses and ozone depletion. Consequently, the production of CFCs ceased in 1994.

HCFC R-22 Freon 22 air conditioner refrigerant tank






Global Warming Potential:


Ozone Depletion Potential:


R-22, or Freon 22, is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC). An HCFC is a CFC with an additional hydrogen atom. R-22 was the standard air conditioner refrigerant from 1960 to 2005 until it was determined that the blend’s addition of chlorine contributes to greenhouse gasses and ozone depletion.

HFC R-410A air conditioner refrigerant tank






Global Warming Potential:


Ozone Depletion Potential:


R-410A, or Puron, is a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC), a chlorine-free replacement for R22. Air conditioners were redesigned to use HFCs when R-22 was phased out. Therefore, R-410A cannot be used in R-22 systems. R-410A allows AC units to have higher efficiency ratings resulting in increased comfort, reliability, and air quality.

What AC Refrigerant is Being Phased Out?

R-22, also known as Freon 22, is being phased out of use due to the Clean Air Act. The EPA determined that HCFCs are ozone-depleting substances. The United States began phasing out R-22 in the 1990s.

It is unlikely that an air conditioner manufactured after 2005 uses R-22. Air conditioners manufactured after January 1, 2010 are prohibited by law from using R-22. New air conditioners use the refrigerant known as R410A.

As of 2020, the manufacture and import of R-22 are banned. Still, some old air conditioners use R-22. The remaining stock of R-22 is dwindling, and with that comes a higher cost. Unfortunately, R-410A cannot be used in an air conditioner designed to use R-22.

How Do I Know If My AC is Leaking Refrigerant?

Properly functioning air conditioners maintain the amount of Freon and should not need to be recharged unless they leak. Signs of a Freon leak include less cooling power, warm air blowing from the vents, hissing noises, frozen evaporator coils, and high energy bills.

Don’t ignore potential Freon leaks. Refrigerant leaks reduce efficiency and strain the air conditioner’s components. With decreased efficiency comes increased running costs. Not to mention, refrigerant is a harmful chemical to the environment and your health.

Realize that other problems besides a Freon leak can cause reduced efficiency, strange noises, and frozen coils. A dirty air filter or coils are two common issues that might mimic a Freon leak.

How Much Does It Cost to Refill Refrigerant in an AC Unit?

According to HomeGuide, the average cost of refilling an air conditioner with R-410A refrigerant is $100 to $320, depending on the air conditioner’s size. The average price of replenishing an air conditioner with R-22 is $180 to $600, depending on size. Service charges are additional.

An undercharged air conditioner requires 2 to 4 pounds of refrigerant, but some HVAC companies require a minimum of three pounds. HVAC companies charge $50 to $80 a pound for R-410A, whereas wholesale prices are $4 to $8. As the stock of R-22 decreases, the cost increases. HVAC companies charge $90 to $150 a pound to recharge R-22, while the wholesale price is $13 to $21 per pound.

man recharging air conditioner with Freon
ACs for sale

Discover Top-Grade Air Conditioners: View Our Products Today


Refrigerant is a necessary component in an air conditioner. Whether your air conditioner uses R-22 or R-401A, it cannot function properly if the refrigerant level is low. Refrigerant does not deplete over time unless the air conditioner sustains a leak.

If you notice signs of a Freon leak, immediately turn off your air conditioner and call an HVAC service. Running the air conditioner with a leak can damage it, and leaking Freon is terrible for your health and the environment. Licensed HVAC technicians are authorized to handle refrigerants. A technician will inspect your system, repair leaks, and recharge the system with refrigerant.

Air conditioning

1 comment



Explore GasNtools’ insightful blog on Freon gas suppliers in the UAE. Discover the latest industry trends, eco-friendly solutions, and reliable sourcing options. Stay informed and make informed decisions for your cooling requirements with GasNtools.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published