What's an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

April 01, 2015

Over the past 10 years, both the U.S. and Canadian governments have directed that all makers 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 a long time. The recommended phase-out mandates are expected to have the HVAC industry shift to a more green friendly refrigerant with a technical label R410A. R410A has been shown to be safer for the environment.

In late 2010 most 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”. These A/C units can legally be sold and installed then your local HVAC contractor (such as Norrell Service Experts) can charge the unit with R22. R22 is still legal for AC repair or service for a short time longer. The purpose of these Dry Charged Units is to provide the greater Birmingham 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 intended to better protect our environment by moving the air conditioning industry to a more environmentally friendly refrigerant.

Birmingham homeowners should know 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 usually 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 most important thing to do is determine 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 Birmingham homeowners that Dry Charge units do not. A few of the benefits include:

  • Increased energy efficiency for affordable in-home comfort
  • Leading technology to reduce humidity
  • Current production refrigerant solutions guaranteeing longer life and extended availability of refrigerant
  • Extended warranty periods for even greater peace of mind
  • Quieter operation for a more peaceful indoor environment
  • Earth friendly refrigerant that reduces the carbon imprint that negatively impacts our environment
  • Matched coil solutions for enhanced 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, 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 provides industry standard protection on the components it does not provide protection against R-22 refrigerant prices, which are expected to increase significantly.

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 Norrell Service Experts for clarification.

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