What’s an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

Over the past several years, both the U.S. and Canadian governments have mandated that all makers of air conditioning equipment stop production of the refrigerant R-22 (Freon) or Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These refrigerants have been standardly used in air conditioners and heat pumps for the last several decades. The R-22 and HCFC mandates are expected to have the HVAC industry turn to a more green friendly refrigerant with a technical code R410A. R410A has been shown to be safer for the environment. 

In late 2010 reputable air conditioning companies began manufacturing Air Conditioning and Heat Pump units, without adding refrigerant at the factory. These units 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 short time longer. The purpose of these Dry Charged Units is to give the greater Philadelphia area a more simple and cost effective replacement option for central air conditioners and heat pumps. However, these units also dodge the spirit of the mandates, which was to help the environment by introducing more environment friendly solutions. 

Philadelphia homeowners should understand 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 usually referred to as “Dry Charge” or “Nitrogen Charged” systems. The following 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 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. 

Top reasons for buying an R-410A system 

Current R-410A systems have many benefits to Philadelphia 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 allowing longer life and extended availability of refrigerant 
  • Longer warranty periods for significant 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 improved reliability and guaranteed cooling and heating performance 

Is it legal to install Dry Charge units? 

Absolutely. 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? 

Major 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, R-22 refrigerant will become more expensive. 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 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 Stallion Heating and Air Conditioning for clarification.