What's an Air Conditioning Dry Charge?

April 01, 2015

Over the past 10 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 standardly used in air conditioners and heat pumps for a long time. The R-22 and HCFC mandates are expected to have the HVAC industry turn to a more environmentally friendly refrigerant with a technical designation 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. Such systems 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 a while longer. The intent for these Dry Charged Units is to give the greater Toronto 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 help the environment by introducing more environment friendly solutions.

Toronto homeowners should understand 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”. 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?

The answer to this question hinges on a number of things. The best thing to do is determine 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 provide benefits to Toronto homeowners that Dry Charge units do not. A few of the benefits include:

  • Greater energy efficiency for reduced cost of comfort
  • State-of-the-art technology to lower humidity
  • Current production refrigerant solutions allowing longer life and extended availability of refrigerant
  • Extended warranty periods for even greater peace of mind
  • Quieter operation for a more peaceful indoor environment
  • Ozone friendly refrigerant for lower impact on 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, however, it can only be used as a repair to an existing system.

Is there a warranty that comes with it?

Most 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 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 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 Commercial HVAC for clarification.

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