Dry Charge or Dry Shipped Air Conditioners

If you have not heard this term, it reflects that some HVAC manufacturers have decided to produce air conditioners that operate on a refrigerant (R22) that is prevalent in old air conditioners, but is being phased out of production (by 2020) due to its damaging effect on the ozone layer.

Federal law stemming from the Montreal Protocol calls for all new air conditioners to have environmentally-friendly refrigerant. All new units have this refrigerant (R410A); however, the outdoor unit, the indoor cooling coil, and preferably the refrigerant piping, need to be replaced. The environmentally-friendly refrigerant oil is not compatible with ozone-depleting refrigerant oil. However, an apparent “loop hole” was discovered and a new air conditioner could be shipped with no refrigerant charge, or “dry” and therefore the owner would not incur the expense of replacing the indoor coil or the refrigerant piping. So their focus is strictly on the initial cost and not the other four costs of ownership. The other four costs are going to be higher — and probably much higher! Here they are:

1. Maintenance Cost. If refrigerant is needed, which is not uncommon over a 10-year span, it will become increasingly costly as each year goes by.

2. Operating Cost. Dry-shipped air conditioners are the minimum efficiency (13.0 S.E.E.R.) that the government allows to be manufactured. Electric rates continue to escalate and the homeowner is stuck with a low-efficiency system.

3. Repair Cost. If refrigerant is needed, then the repair cost will be a shocker. Ozone-depleting refrigerant is being phased out and will be harder to even find after 2020. Also, parts and compressor warranties on dry-shipped units are minimal and not near the warranty on high-efficiency air conditioners have.

4. Replacement Cost. When the compressor fails, or it is time to upgrade to a more efficient system (maybe when repair costs are astronomical), then all the components of the system will have to be replaced.

It is clearly not in the best interest of a homeowner to install a “dry-shipped” air conditioner. Therefore, at Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, we will not offer it as an option to our customers. If a homeowner has this offered to them by another company, a red flag should go up and they should not do business with them.