What’s an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

Over the past decade, both the U.S. and Canadian governments have mandated that all manufacturers 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 many decades. The R-22 and HCFC mandates are suppose to have the HVAC industry shift to a more earth friendly refrigerant with a technical designation R410A. R410A has been shown to be safer for the environment. 

In late 2010 reputable 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”. They 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 a while longer. The reason for these Dry Charged Units is to offer the greater the U.S. area a more simple and relatively inexpensive replacement option for central air conditioners and heat pumps. However, these units also circumvent the spirit of the mandates, which was to wean the industry off less eco-friendly refrigerants. 

the U.S. homeowners should know that these Dry Charged Units are allowed 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 considered 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. Here 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 number one thing to do is determine what types of HVAC equipment the heating and air conditioning industry can offer and seek solutions that speaks to 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 
  • Leading technology to lessen humidity 
  • Current production refrigerant solutions ensuring 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 protects the environment 
  • Matched coil solutions for improved 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. 

Does a warranty come with a Dry Charge Unit? 

Major 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 dramatically. 

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 that time however, 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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