What's an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

April 01, 2015

Over the past 10 years, 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 commonly used in air conditioners and heat pumps for the last several decades. The R-22 and HCFC mandates are expected to have the HVAC industry turn to a more green friendly refrigerant with a technical designation R410A. R410A has been proven to be safer for the environment.

In late 2010 reputable air conditioning firms 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 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 intent for these Dry Charged Units is to provide the greater Austin area a more simple and affordable replacement option for central air conditioners and heat pumps. However, these units also bypass the spirit of the mandates, which was to help the environment by introducing more environment friendly solutions.

Austin homeowners should be aware 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 considered 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. The following are some Frequently Asked Questions about this recent A/C Dry Charge trend.

Does it make sense to buy a Dry Charge Air Conditioning Unit?

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 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 offer benefits to Austin homeowners that Dry Charge units do not. A sample of the benefits include:

  • Greater energy efficiency for reduced cost of comfort
  • Leading technology to reduce humidity
  • Current production refrigerant solutions allowing 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 protects 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 a standard 5-year parts warranty on dry charge units. While this affords 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 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 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 Strand Brothers Service Experts for clarification.

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