What’s an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

Over the past several years, both the U.S. and Canadian governments have instructed that all makers of air conditioning equipment phase out production of the refrigerant R-22 (Freon) or Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These refrigerants have been typically used in air conditioners and heat pumps for a long time. The R-22 and HCFC mandates are expected to have the HVAC industry shift to a more green friendly refrigerant with a technical label R410A. R410A has been shown to be safer for the environment. 

In late 2010 reputable 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”. These A/C units 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 bypass the spirit of the mandates, which was intended to better protect our environment by moving the air conditioning industry to a more environmentally friendly refrigerant. 

the U.S. homeowners should know that these Dry Charged Units are approved 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 looked upon as a replacement “part”. Today, 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. 

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

Well, it really depends on a number of things. The best thing to do is learn what types of HVAC equipment the heating and air conditioning industry offers and seek solutions to meet 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. 

Top reasons for buying an R-410A system 

Current R-410A systems provide 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 
  • Leading technology to lower humidity 
  • Current production refrigerant solutions guaranteeing longer life and extended availability of refrigerant 
  • Extended warranty periods for more peace of mind 
  • Quieter operation for a more peaceful indoor environment 
  • Ozone friendly refrigerant for lower impact on the environment 
  • Matched coil solutions for increased reliability and guaranteed cooling and heating performance 

Is it legal to install Dry Charge units? 

Yes. There are no Federal laws or legal restriction on the installation of R-22 or Dry Charge Equipment, however, it can only be used as a repair to an existing system. 

Is there a warranty that comes with it? 

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

Will the R-22 refrigerant be expensive to buy? 

It is likely that as a result of supply and demand, the answer to this question is “yes – we do anticipate R-22 refrigerant to get pricey”. 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 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 Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing for clarification. 

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