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Air conditioners are a common scrap item, despite requiring a bit of extra work to get at the “good stuff”. But once you get an air conditioner opened up, you’ll find aluminum and copper coil, electric motors, wire, and many other types of valuable scrap that can be turned into money. These are common scrap items to bring to the scrap yard in the winter, when old air conditioners are retired after a long season. Here’s what you need to know to recycle air conditioners.

Aluminum and Copper Coil Prices

There are two general types of air conditioner radiators: clean and dirty. With clean metal materials, you can expect to earn somewhere around 96 cents per pound for the aluminum and copper coil. For dirty materials, expect closer to 80 cents per pound. This price can change depending on where you live and other features of the metals, but this an average estimate.

Scrap the Rest of the Materials

Getting the rest of the materials out of an air conditioner is just a matter of careful processing. First, cut the copper wires and then sort them by grade for the best prices. You may also want to scrap the brass plugs on the end of the wire.

Then remove the steel and screws, as well as any plastic framing, and sort into the appropriate scrap piles. While some scrap recyclers prefer to leave these parts on for extra weight, don’t forget that scrap yards will pay only what the lowest grade material is worth for a pile. The valuable copper and aluminum inside the air conditioner is worth the extra time in most cases.

The next part you’ll be looking for is copper tubes, which is usually graded at #2 copper because of oil. Beyond that, you’ll find at least one radiator, the electric motor, the power supply, more copper tubing, and the sealed unit. In most cases, it’s best to just scrap sealed units as whole pieces, due to the heavy-duty steel casing.

Now take out the radiator and motor and decide if you intend to scrap those whole or separately. The next thing you’ll come across is the power supply, which should include copper transformer, aluminum heatsink, and some circuit boards. Finally, you’ve come to the aluminum and copper radiators, which is where your money really is in air conditioners. Cut off the copper hooks and clean up the ACR by removing the steel plate on the side.

Now you simply need to be sure your metals are all sorted, and head to the scrap yard for recycling. Remember that sorting the metals is important; you’ll get better prices for the top grade metals if they aren’t mixed in with lower grade items.

Average Weight of Each Metal

From disassembling one average air conditioner, you can expect to have about two pounds of copper wire, three to five pounds of #2 tubing, 10 pounds of steel, 15 to 20 pounds in the sealed unit, five pounds in the electric motor, two pounds in the power supply, and around 10 pounds of clean ACRs.

Depending on the condition of all the parts and the current market of your region, this means that you should earn somewhere around $20 for all the various pieces of a single air conditioner – again, assuming you’ve sorted them properly. Had you simply brought in the air conditioner without disassembling it, you would have maybe received five dollars total. While it’s not the fastest way to earn a living, recycling air conditioners can add up very quickly if you have a good source and an efficient system for breaking down all of the various parts. If you are in a position to disassemble bulk air conditioners, you could see a very nice profit for a few days’ work.

Get the Best Prices at Scrap Stop

Bring in your disassembled air conditioner to Scrap Stop today to take advantage of our easy, hassle-free system. You’ll get the fairest prices on the market for all the elements of an air conditioner, and we’ll help you cut out all the usual aggravations that occur when you head to a scrap yard.

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