I’ve used dehumidifiers for years in my home, and I’ve even installed them in warehouses and building sites.
I tend to use refrigerant dehumidifiers because they work more quickly, but when certain types of Freon were banned in 2020 I started to look more closely at what refrigerants are being used in dehumidifiers.
The majority of dehumidifiers use refrigerants, and the most common refrigerant is still Freon.
However, there are different types of Freon, and there are other refrigerants being used in dehumidifiers. In this guide, I’ll explain:
What Is Freon?
Freon is a chlorofluorocarbon (a colorless gas), best known as “R-22.” It’s a type of refrigerant used in dehumidifiers and air conditioning.
The refrigerant gas Freon is used in the condenser coils of refrigerant dehumidifiers and is a vital part of the dehumidification process.
As air passes through the cold coils the excess moisture is extracted, leaving you with dry air.
There are other types of refrigerant available that work in the same way as Freon, but Freon is the most widely used.
Recently, it has been known to contribute to the depletion of the ozone; therefore, it is gradually being phased out.
Related Article: Are Dehumidifiers Safe To Use?
Do Dehumidifiers Have Freon In Them?
Most dehumidifiers use Freon refrigerant in their refrigeration system.
Some modern dehumidifiers use a different type of refrigerant, and desiccant dehumidifiers use a different system, but if you have an old dehumidifier it likely uses Freon.
A Freon dehumidifier uses it to cool the air in the same way your centralized air conditioner works.
The only difference is that the indoor air is warmed with the help of an additional heating component before it’s released back into your home.
This way, you have the humidity extracted from the house without the house cooling down, maintaining the indoor heat.
Refrigerant Dehumidifiers Vs. Desiccant Dehumidifiers
Not all dehumidifiers use Freon R-22 refrigerant.
Freon is a specific brand (think Coca-Cola or Pepsi) of refrigerant that is very popular, but a modern refrigerant dehumidifier is more likely to use Freon R 410A.
R 410A is a less dangerous gas that doesn’t contribute to ozone depletion, so there’s less risk if the Freon leaks. 
A desiccant dehumidifier doesn’t contain Freon or any type of refrigerant. Instead, they use an absorbent material which is usually filled with silica gel to capture the excess humidity from the air as it passes through.
This dehumidifying process results in higher energy consumption, but you don’t need any Freon inside the dehumidifier.
Related Article: How Does a Dehumidifier Work?
Adding Refrigerant To A Dehumidifier
Most refrigerant dehumidifiers can have more refrigerant added to them.
Refrigerant is like the fuel for your cooling coil and if it starts to run out you can ‘recharge’ the refrigerant to keep it running.
Unless there is a leak, your dehumidifier refrigerant should last as long as the dehumidifier (5-10 years), so you shouldn’t have to recharge compressor-based dehumidifiers.
When Do You Need To Recharge A Dehumidifier?
You should only need to add refrigerant to your dehumidifier if there’s a leak in the system. If there’s no leak then the gas should stay in the cooling coils and never run out.
If you find your dehumidifier is no longer helping you reach the desired humidity level then it could be because you don’t have enough refrigerant in the cooling coils.
There are 2 main reasons for this leak occurring:
- 1The dehumidifier is old and corrosion has caused a leak.
- 2It hasn’t been maintained well and damage has caused a leak in the dehumidifier. This has happened to me before when I accidentally dropped my portable dehumidifier.
You can restore it to full functionality by adding refrigerant, but you also need to repair the leak.
Related Article: How to Recharge a Dehumidifier?
How To Remove Freon From A Dehumidifier
It is possible to remove Freon from a dehumidifier, but it should only be attempted by a professional. I would not recommend trying this unless you have full qualifications and experience.
Freon is a dangerous greenhouse gas with ozone depletion potential. If it’s released into the air/oxygen supply it can damage the ozone layer and have a severe impact on the environment.
There are strict laws and guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about how Freon refrigerant should be handled and disposed of .
If you are no longer using a refrigerant dehumidifier and it does contain Freon then you’ll have to have it removed before you can dispose of the appliance.
In my area, there are specific sites run by the local government to dispose of the refrigerant, but it varies depending on where you live.
Unless you are a trained professional then you should hire a professional to handle and remove dehumidifiers that contain Freon.
Related Article: How to Properly Dispose of a Dehumidifier?
Can You Remove Freon From Your Own Dehumidifier?
Technically, it is possible to remove the refrigerant from dehumidifiers that contain Freon but it should only be done by trained professionals.
Here’s how to do it:
- 1Cut the dehumidifier’s cords.
- 2Unscrew its plastic covers and slowly pull it off. You’ll find Freon in the condenser placed within the dehumidifier.
- 3Experts use 6000BTU cooling power recovery systems (similar to an AC unit’s compressors) to extract Freon from the condenser. I would recommend doing the same.
- 4Attach output and input tubes to the recovery bottles and condenser, respectively.
- 5As the compressor starts, the Freon shifts from condensers to recovery bottles.
- 6Subsequently, both these tubes, if needed, can be swapped to shift Freon or refrigerant from recovery bottles to elsewhere.
Related Article: Why Does a Dehumidifier Ice Up?
How To Add Freon To Your Dehumidifier In 10 Steps
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to add Freon to the dehumidifier:
- 1Order your Freon recharge kit. This way, your task will become much easier as the kits come with tiny cylinders or gas can containing Freon or R-22 (modern dehumidifiers may need R410A).
- 2Switch off the dehumidifier and remove the cable from the plug.
- 3Gather the essential equipment you’ll need to crack it open.
- 4Unscrew all nuts and bolts from the dehumidifier (Take pictures of where you’ve unscrewed from as it will help reassemble the device).
- 5Make sure to remove the top or back first.
- 6After opening, remove the compressor, and you’ll spot the hose.
- 7Grab the gas can and fasten it securely to the hose.
- 8Within a few minutes, all gas will be transferred into the compressor.
- 9Once done, remove the gas can and reassemble.
- 10Please make sure all the parts are in place before starting it again.
Here are some things to be cautious about when following this process:
How Long Does It Take To Add Freon To A Dehumidifier?
Adding Freon to a dehumidifier that requires refrigerant will typically take under 30 minutes and the gas should transfer in just a few minutes.
Remember, this job should only be done by professionals, and Freon R-22 is generally only used in older dehumidifiers.
How Long Does Freon Generally Last In A Dehumidifier?
Freon should last the entire lifespan of the dehumidifier. The best dehumidifier can last up to 10 years, and only those devices with damage to the cooling coil will need more Freon to be added.
How Much Does It Cost To Add Freon To A Dehumidifier?
It costs between $190 and $550 to add Freon to the dehumidifier, depending on which recharge pack you buy, the size of the dehumidifier, and whether you do it yourself.
It is often cheaper to buy a new dehumidifier, though you need to consider the environmental impact of disposing of your old one as it is considered hazardous waste.
Most dehumidifiers used in the US use Freon R22 gas but it is being phased out in favor of R410A gas.
R410A is more effective and has a less harmful effect on the ozone layer but it will take a good few years until we stop having Freon R22 dehumidifiers on the market.
That being said, if you are in the market for a new dehumidifier I would recommend looking for a modern R410A model.
Hopefully, this guide has helped to explain the role that Freon plays and why it’s so common in dehumidifiers. Just remember that the Freon within dehumidifiers should be considered hazardous waste and only dealt with by professionals.