What’s an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

Over the past decade, both the U.S. and Canadian governments have directed that all makers of air conditioning equipment halt production of the refrigerant R-22 (Freon) or Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These refrigerants have been commonly used in air conditioners and heat pumps for the last several decades. The recommended phase-out mandates are suppose to have the HVAC industry turn to a more green friendly refrigerant with a technical code R410A. R410A has been proven to be safer for the environment. 

In late 2010 reputable air conditioning firms began manufacturing Air Conditioning and Heat Pump units, without adding refrigerant at the factory. These systems are more commonly called “dry charged units”. They can legally be sold and installed allowing the HVAC contractor to charge the unit in the field with R22. R22 is still legal for AC repair or service for a few more years. The reason for these Dry Charged Units is to provide the greater the U.S. area a more simple and affordable replacement option for central air conditioners and heat pumps. However, these units also dodge the spirit of the mandates, which was to help the environment by introducing more environment friendly solutions. 

the U.S. homeowners should know that these Dry Charged Units are permitted in the U.S. and Canada. Taking advantage of an unclear definition of the outdoor unit in these policies, the entire outdoor unit is technically deemed a replacement “part”. As a result, condensers or heat pumps intended for use in a replacement R-22 system are often referred to as “Dry Charge” or “Nitrogen Charged” systems. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about this recent A/C Dry Charge trend. 

Does it make sense to buy a Dry Charge Air Conditioning Unit? 

It depends on a number of things. The best thing to do is determine what types of HVAC equipment the heating and air conditioning industry offers and seek solutions to address your personal comfort, efficiency and lifestyle needs. Take time to understand the benefits and difference between a dry charge unit and new air conditioning products with R-410A refrigerant. 

Why would I buy a R-410A refrigerant system? 

Current R-410A systems have many benefits to the U.S. homeowners that Dry Charge units do not. Some of the benefits include: 

  • Greater energy efficiency for reduced cost of comfort 
  • Modern technology to reduce humidity 
  • Current production refrigerant solutions ensuring longer life and extended availability of refrigerant 
  • Expanded warranty periods for even greater peace of mind 
  • Quieter operation for a more peaceful indoor environment 
  • Ozone friendly refrigerant for lower impact on the environment 
  • Matched coil solutions for enhanced reliability and guaranteed cooling and heating performance 

Are Dry Charge units legal? 

Absolutely. There are no Federal laws or legal restriction on the installation of R-22 or Dry Charge Equipment, with the stipulation that it is repairing an existing air conditioning system. 

What about the warranty? 

Most manufacturers honor a standard 5-year parts warranty on dry charge units. While this provides industry standard protection on the components it does not provide protection against R-22 refrigerant prices, which are expected to increase dramatically. 

Is R-22 refrigerant going to get really expensive? 

It is likely that as a result of supply and demand, R-22 refrigerant will become more expensive. As the phase out process of R22 continues, new R-22 refrigerant production will progressively be reduced, with full elimination of its production in 2020. Until that time however, indications are that there will likely be sufficient supply to meet the current demand. 

If you have more questions about refrigerant, we encourage you to contact Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing for clarification. 

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