What’s an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

Over the past decade, both the U.S. and Canadian governments have instructed that all producers 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 the last several decades. The R-22 and HCFC mandates are intended to have the HVAC industry move to a more earth friendly refrigerant with a technical code R410A. R410A has been proven to be safer for the environment. 

In late 2010 most 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”. 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 intent for these Dry Charged Units is to give 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 approved in the U.S. and Canada. Because of the lack of clarity regarding the definition of an outdoor unit in the rules, the entire outdoor unit is technically considered a replacement “part”. These days, condensers or heat pumps intended for use in a replacement R-22 system are now referred to as “Dry Charge” or “Nitrogen Charged” systems. Below 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 number one thing to do is understand 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. 

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. A few of the benefits include: 

  • Greater energy efficiency for reduced cost of comfort 
  • Modern technology to lower humidity 
  • Current production refrigerant solutions ensuring longer life and extended availability of refrigerant 
  • Extended 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 

Is it legal to install Dry Charge units? 

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. 

Does a warranty come with a Dry Charge Unit? 

The majority of manufacturers have a standard 5-year parts warranty on dry charge units. While this offers industry standard protection on the components it does not provide protection against R-22 refrigerant prices, which are expected to increase significantly. 

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

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 gradually be reduced, with full elimination of its production in 2020. Until that date, 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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