What’s an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

Over the past 10 years, both the U.S. and Canadian governments have mandated that all producers of air conditioning equipment stop production of the refrigerant R-22 (Freon) or Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These refrigerants have been commonly used in air conditioners and heat pumps for a long time. These mandates are suppose to have the HVAC industry move to a more earth friendly refrigerant with a technical designation R410A. R410A has been proven 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 Stallion Heating and Air Conditioning) can charge the unit with R22. R22 is still legal for AC repair or service for a few more years. The reason for these Dry Charged Units is to offer the greater Philadelphia area a more simple and cost effective replacement option for central air conditioners and heat pumps. However, these units also circumvent the spirit of the mandates, which was to wean the industry off less eco-friendly refrigerants. 

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

Do you recommend purchasing a Dry Charge Air Conditioning System? 

It depends on a number of things. The best thing to do is understand what types of HVAC equipment the heating and air conditioning industry offers 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. 

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

Current R-410A systems provide benefits to Philadelphia homeowners that Dry Charge units do not. A sample of the benefits include: 

  • Improved energy efficiency for comfort at a cost savings 
  • Modern technology to lower humidity 
  • Current production refrigerant solutions allowing longer life and extended availability of refrigerant 
  • Expanded warranty periods for significant peace of mind 
  • Quieter operation for a more peaceful indoor environment 
  • Eco friendly refrigerant for lower impact on the environment 
  • Matched coil solutions for increased reliability and guaranteed cooling and heating performance 

Are Dry Charge units legal? 

Yes. 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. 

What about the warranty? 

The majority of manufacturers honor 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. 

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 progressively be reduced, with full elimination of its production in 2020. Until that date, 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 Stallion Heating and Air Conditioning for clarification. 

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