What's an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

April 01, 2015

Over the past 10 years, both the U.S. and Canadian governments have mandated that all producers of air conditioning equipment stop production of the refrigerant R-22 (Freon) or Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These refrigerants have been typically used in air conditioners and heat pumps for the last several decades. The recommended phase-out mandates are suppose to have the HVAC industry move to a more earth friendly refrigerant with a technical code R410A. R410A has been shown to be safer for the environment.

In late 2010 most air conditioning producers began manufacturing Air Conditioning and Heat Pump units, without adding refrigerant at the factory. Such systems are more commonly called “dry charged units”. They can legally be sold and installed then your local HVAC contractor (such as Air Engineers Service Experts) can charge the unit with R22. R22 is still legal for AC repair or service for a short time longer. The purpose of these Dry Charged Units is to provide the greater Jacksonville area a more simple and relatively inexpensive replacement option for central air conditioners and heat pumps. However, these units also bypass the spirit of the mandates, which was to wean the industry off less eco-friendly refrigerants.

Jacksonville homeowners should be aware that these Dry Charged Units are permitted in the U.S. and Canada. Because of some key ambiguities in the written policies, the entire outdoor unit is technically deemed a replacement “part”. These days, condensers or heat pumps intended for use in a replacement R-22 system are usually referred to as “Dry Charge” or “Nitrogen Charged” systems. The following are some Frequently Asked Questions about this recent A/C Dry Charge trend.

Do you recommend purchasing a Dry Charge Air Conditioning System?

Well, it really depends on a number of things. The best thing to do is determine what types of HVAC equipment the heating and air conditioning industry can offer 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.

Reasons to buy an R-410A refrigerant system

Current R-410A systems provide benefits to Jacksonville homeowners that Dry Charge units do not. Some of the benefits include:

  • Improved energy efficiency for comfort at a cost savings
  • 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 improved reliability and guaranteed cooling and heating performance

Are Dry Charge units legal?

Definitely. 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 have established 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 substantially.

How expensive will R-22 get in the next few years?

It is likely that as a result of supply and demand, the refrigerant will probably go up in price. As the phase out process of R22 continues, new R-22 refrigerant production will slowly be reduced, with full elimination of its production in 2020. Until then, 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 Air Engineers Service Experts for clarification.

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