What's an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

April 01, 2015

Over the past several years, both the U.S. and Canadian governments have directed that all producers of air conditioning equipment phase out production of the refrigerant R-22 (Freon) or Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These refrigerants have been standardly 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 earth friendly refrigerant with a technical label R410A. R410A has been shown to be safer for the environment.

In late 2010 most air conditioning manufacturers 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 which permits your North America area HVAC contractor to charge the unit on-site 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 provide the greater North America 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 help the environment by introducing more environment friendly solutions.

North America homeowners should be aware that these Dry Charged Units are permitted 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 looked upon as 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. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about this recent A/C Dry Charge trend.

Do you recommend purchasing a Dry Charge Air Conditioning System?

It depends on a number of things. The best thing to do is learn 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 offer benefits to North America homeowners that Dry Charge units do not. Some of the benefits include:

  • Improved energy efficiency for affordable in-home comfort
  • State-of-the-art technology to lower humidity
  • Current production refrigerant solutions ensuring longer life and extended availability of refrigerant
  • Longer warranty periods for significant 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 improved reliability and guaranteed cooling and heating performance

Is it legal to install Dry Charge units?

Definitely. 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?

The majority of manufacturers have established 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 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 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 Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for clarification.

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