What's an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

April 01, 2015

Over the past several years, 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 commonly used in air conditioners and heat pumps for many decades. The recommended phase-out mandates are anticipated to have the HVAC industry move to a more environmentally friendly refrigerant with a technical label R410A. R410A has been shown to be safer for the environment.

In late 2010 the majority of air conditioning companies 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 which permits your Hurricane area HVAC contractor to charge the unit on-site with R22. R22 is still legal for AC repair or service a while longer. The reason for these Dry Charged Units is to offer the greater Hurricane area a more simple and cost effective replacement option for central air conditioners and heat pumps. However, these units also circumvent 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.

Hurricane homeowners should be aware that these Dry Charged Units are allowed 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 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 most important 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.

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

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

  • Increased energy efficiency for comfort at a cost savings
  • Leading technology to lessen humidity
  • Current production refrigerant solutions allowing 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 for lower impact on the environment
  • Matched coil solutions for increased 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, however, it can only be used as a repair to an existing system.

Does a warranty come with a Dry Charge Unit?

The majority of manufacturers have established 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 substantially.

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

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 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 Teays Valley Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for clarification.

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