What’s an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

Over the past several years, both the U.S. and Canadian governments have mandated that all makers 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 the last several decades. These mandates are expected to have the HVAC industry shift to a more environmentally friendly refrigerant with a technical code R410A. R410A has been proven 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 units are more commonly called “dry charged units”. The units can legally be sold and installed then your local HVAC contractor (such as Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing) can charge the unit 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 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 dodge 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 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 deemed 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 most important thing to do is learn what types of HVAC equipment the heating and air conditioning industry can 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.

Top reasons for buying an R-410A 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:

    • Increased energy efficiency for reduced cost of comfort
    • State-of-the-art technology to lessen humidity
    • Current production refrigerant solutions allowing longer life and extended availability of refrigerant
    • Extended warranty periods for significant peace of mind
    • Quieter operation for a more peaceful indoor environment
    • Earth friendly refrigerant for lower impact on the environment
    • Matched coil solutions for enhanced reliability and guaranteed cooling and heating performance

Are Dry Charge units legal?

Absolutely. 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.

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 provides industry standard protection on the components it does not provide protection against R-22 refrigerant prices, which are expected to increase significantly.

Will the R-22 refrigerant be expensive to buy?

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 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 Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing for clarification.

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