What's an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

April 01, 2015

Over the past 10 years, both the U.S. and Canadian governments have mandated 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 the last several decades. The R-22 and HCFC mandates are suppose to have the HVAC industry turn to a more environmentally 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 units are more commonly called “dry charged units”. They can legally be sold and installed which permits your West Palm Beach 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 reason for these Dry Charged Units is to give the greater West Palm Beach area a more simple and affordable 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.

West Palm Beach homeowners should understand that these Dry Charged Units are permitted 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”. Today, condensers or heat pumps intended for use in a replacement R-22 system are now referred to as “Dry Charge” or “Nitrogen Charged” systems. Below 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?

It depends on a number of things. The best thing to do is determine what types of HVAC equipment the heating and air conditioning industry can offer and seek solutions to meet 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 have many benefits to West Palm Beach homeowners that Dry Charge units do not. A sample of the benefits include:

  • Increased energy efficiency for affordable in-home comfort
  • State-of-the-art technology to reduce 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 protects the environment
  • Matched coil solutions for improved reliability and guaranteed cooling and heating performance

Is it legal to install Dry Charge units?

Definitely. 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.

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 substantially.

How expensive will R-22 get in the next few years?

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 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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