What's an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

April 01, 2015

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 standardly used in air conditioners and heat pumps for many decades. The R-22 and HCFC mandates are expected to have the HVAC industry shift to a more earth friendly refrigerant with a technical label R410A. R410A has been verified to be safer for the environment.

In late 2010 reputable air conditioning manufacturers began manufacturing Air Conditioning and Heat Pump units, without adding refrigerant at the factory. Such 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 short time longer. The purpose of these Dry Charged Units is to give the greater Jackson area a more simple and affordable 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.

Jackson homeowners should be aware that these Dry Charged Units are approved in the U.S. and Canada. Because of some key ambiguities in the written policies, the entire outdoor unit is technically looked upon as 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. The following are some Frequently Asked Questions about this recent A/C Dry Charge trend.

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

The answer to this question hinges on a number of things. The number one thing to do is understand what types of HVAC equipment the heating and air conditioning industry has to offer 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 Jackson homeowners that Dry Charge units do not. Some of the benefits include:

  • Greater energy efficiency for affordable in-home comfort
  • State-of-the-art technology to lower humidity
  • Current production refrigerant solutions allowing longer life and extended availability of refrigerant
  • Longer 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 increased reliability and guaranteed cooling and heating performance

Are Dry Change Air Conditioning Unit legal to install?

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.

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 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 then, 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 Comfortech Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for clarification.

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