What's an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

April 01, 2015

Over the past several years, both the U.S. and Canadian governments have instructed 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 many decades. The recommended phase-out mandates are suppose to have the HVAC industry turn to a more green friendly refrigerant with a technical code R410A. R410A has been proven to be safer for the environment.

In late 2010 most air conditioning manufacturers began manufacturing Air Conditioning and Heat Pump units, without adding refrigerant at the factory. These units are more commonly called “dry charged units”. These A/C 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 few more years. The intent for these Dry Charged Units is to give the greater Ocala 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 to help the environment by introducing more environment friendly solutions.

Ocala homeowners should be aware that these Dry Charged Units are allowed 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”. 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. Below are some Frequently Asked Questions about this recent A/C Dry Charge trend.

Should I buy a “Dry Charge” A/C system?

Well, it really depends on a number of things. The number one 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.

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

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

  • Greater energy efficiency for comfort at a cost savings
  • State-of-the-art technology to reduce humidity
  • Current production refrigerant solutions ensuring longer life and extended availability of refrigerant
  • Extended warranty periods for more peace of mind
  • Quieter operation for a more peaceful indoor environment
  • Eco friendly refrigerant that protects the environment
  • Matched coil solutions for increased reliability and guaranteed cooling and heating performance

Is it legal to install Dry Charge units?

Yes. 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.

What about the warranty?

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 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 progressively 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 Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning for clarification.

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