What's an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

April 01, 2015

Over the past decade, both the U.S. and Canadian governments have mandated that all producers of air conditioning equipment halt 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. The recommended phase-out mandates are expected to have the HVAC industry turn to a more earth friendly refrigerant with a technical code R410A. R410A has been shown 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 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 offer the greater Fort Myers 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 intended to better protect our environment by moving the air conditioning industry to a more environmentally friendly refrigerant.

Fort Myers homeowners should know that these Dry Charged Units are permitted 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”. Today, 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 best 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.

Why would I buy a R-410A refrigerant system?

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

  • Improved energy efficiency for affordable in-home comfort
  • State-of-the-art technology to reduce humidity
  • Current production refrigerant solutions guaranteeing longer life and extended availability of refrigerant
  • Longer warranty periods for more 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 increased reliability and guaranteed cooling and heating performance

Are Dry Charge units legal?

Definitely. 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?

Major manufacturers have established 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.

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 slowly 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 for clarification.

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