What’s an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

Over the past decade, 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 the last several decades. These mandates are suppose to have the HVAC industry turn to a more green friendly refrigerant with a technical label R410A. R410A has been verified 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”. 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 few more years. The intent for these Dry Charged Units is to offer the greater Waukegan 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. 

Waukegan homeowners should be aware that these Dry Charged Units are approved 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 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. Here 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 most important thing to do is determine what types of HVAC equipment the heating and air conditioning industry has to 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. 

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

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

  • Improved energy efficiency for reduced cost of comfort 
  • Modern technology to lower humidity 
  • Current production refrigerant solutions ensuring longer life and extended availability of refrigerant 
  • Longer warranty periods for even greater peace of mind 
  • Quieter operation for a more peaceful indoor environment 
  • Eco friendly refrigerant that protects the 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, 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 offers industry standard protection on the components it does not provide protection against R-22 refrigerant prices, which are expected to increase significantly. 

Is R-22 refrigerant going to get really expensive? 

It is likely that as a result of supply and demand, R-22 refrigerant will become more expensive. 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 Robinson Service Experts for clarification. 

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