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 halt production of the refrigerant R-22 (Freon) or Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These refrigerants have been typically used in air conditioners and heat pumps for the last several decades. The R-22 and HCFC mandates are intended to have the HVAC industry move 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. These systems are more commonly called “dry charged units”. These A/C units can legally be sold and installed then your local HVAC contractor (such as Coastal Service Experts) can charge the unit with R22. R22 is still legal for AC repair or service a while longer. The intent for these Dry Charged Units is to provide the greater Savannah area a more simple and cost effective replacement option for central air conditioners and heat pumps. However, these units also bypass the spirit of the mandates, which was to wean the industry off less eco-friendly refrigerants.

Savannah homeowners should be aware that these Dry Charged Units are approved in the U.S. and Canada. Taking advantage of an unclear definition of the outdoor unit in these policies, the entire outdoor unit is technically considered a replacement “part”. As a result, 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 number one thing to do is learn 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.

Reasons to buy an R-410A refrigerant system

Current R-410A systems offer benefits to Savannah homeowners that Dry Charge units do not. Some of the benefits include:

  • Greater energy efficiency for reduced cost of 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 significant 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

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, as long as it is as a repair for 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 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 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 Coastal Service Experts for clarification.

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