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 manufacturers 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 intended to have the HVAC industry turn to a more green friendly refrigerant with a technical code R410A. R410A has been shown to be safer for the environment.

In late 2010 reputable 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”. The units can legally be sold and installed which permits your Memphis 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 intent for these Dry Charged Units is to provide the greater Memphis 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.

Memphis homeowners should understand that these Dry Charged Units are approved 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 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?

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 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.

Top reasons for buying an R-410A system

Current R-410A systems have many benefits to Memphis homeowners that Dry Charge units do not. A few of the benefits include:

  • Greater energy efficiency for affordable in-home comfort
  • Modern technology to lessen humidity
  • Current production refrigerant solutions ensuring longer life and extended availability of refrigerant
  • Expanded warranty periods for even greater peace of mind
  • Quieter operation for a more peaceful indoor environment
  • Earth friendly refrigerant that reduces the carbon imprint that negatively impacts our environment
  • Matched coil solutions for enhanced reliability and guaranteed cooling and heating performance

Are Dry Charge units legal?

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.

Is there a warranty that comes with it?

Most manufacturers honor 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.

Is R-22 refrigerant going to get really expensive?

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 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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