What’s an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

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

In late 2010 the majority of air conditioning firms began manufacturing Air Conditioning and Heat Pump units, without adding refrigerant at the factory. These units are more commonly called “dry charged units”. The 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 short time longer. The purpose of these Dry Charged Units is to give the greater the U.S. area a more simple and cost effective replacement option for central air conditioners and heat pumps. However, these units also dodge 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 permitted in the U.S. and Canada. Because of some key ambiguities in the written policies, the entire outdoor unit is technically considered 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. Below are some Frequently Asked Questions about this recent A/C Dry Charge trend.

Should I buy a “Dry Charge” A/C system?

It depends on a number of things. The best thing to do is understand what types of HVAC equipment the heating and air conditioning industry has to 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 the U.S. homeowners that Dry Charge units do not. A sample of the benefits include:

    • Increased energy efficiency for comfort at a cost savings
    • State-of-the-art technology to reduce humidity
    • Current production refrigerant solutions guaranteeing longer life and extended availability of refrigerant
    • Expanded warranty periods for more peace of mind
    • Quieter operation for a more peaceful indoor environment
    • Ozone friendly refrigerant that reduces the carbon imprint that negatively impacts our environment
    • Matched coil solutions for increased reliability and guaranteed cooling and heating performance

Are Dry Charge units legal?

Yes. 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 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.

Is R-22 refrigerant going to get really expensive?

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 slowly 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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