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 phase out 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 suppose to have the HVAC industry shift to a more environmentally friendly refrigerant with a technical label R410A. R410A has been proven to be safer for the environment. 

In late 2010 reputable air conditioning producers 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 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 short time longer. The purpose of 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 bypass 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 permitted 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”. 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. The following 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 best thing to do is learn 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. 

Reasons to buy an R-410A refrigerant system 

Current R-410A systems offer 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 lessen humidity 
  • Current production refrigerant solutions ensuring longer life and extended availability of refrigerant 
  • Longer warranty periods for more 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, as long as it is as a repair for an existing system. 

What about the warranty? 

Major manufacturers have established 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 substantially. 

Will the R-22 refrigerant be expensive to buy? 

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 Stallion Heating and Air Conditioning for clarification. 

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