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 makers of air conditioning equipment phase out 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. These mandates are intended 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 reputable air conditioning producers 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 Pardee Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning) can charge the unit with R22. R22 is still legal for AC repair or service for a short time longer. The reason for these Dry Charged Units is to offer the greater Charleston 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.

Charleston homeowners should know 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 deemed a replacement “part”. These days, condensers or heat pumps intended for use in a replacement R-22 system are often referred to as “Dry Charge” or “Nitrogen Charged” systems. Below are some Frequently Asked Questions about this recent A/C Dry Charge trend.

Do you recommend purchasing a Dry Charge Air Conditioning System?

Well, it really depends on a number of things. The best thing to do is understand 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.

Top reasons for buying an R-410A system

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

  • Improved energy efficiency for reduced cost of comfort
  • State-of-the-art technology to lower humidity
  • Current production refrigerant solutions guaranteeing longer life and extended availability of refrigerant
  • Extended warranty periods for significant peace of mind
  • Quieter operation for a more peaceful indoor environment
  • Eco 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?

Absolutely. 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 offers 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 answer to this question is “yes – we do anticipate R-22 refrigerant to get pricey”. 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 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 Pardee Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for clarification.

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