How To Charge An RV AC Unit?

Did you notice that the AC isn’t working as well as it should or started blowing hot air. That’s a sure sign that your AC ran out of refrigerant.

Recharging a RV AC unit is pretty simple. You first need to get the correct refrigerant, gauge the current refrigerant level, and then refill the tank. Of course, safety should be a priority during the entire process.

There may be additional steps depending on the condition of your unit. You might also need to spend some time picking the right refrigerant. I will explain everything you need on how to charge RV AC units in this article.

RV AC Recharging: Five Easy Steps

All Ac units need refrigerants to function. It is a consumable resource, so you will need to recharge it from time to time. A single recharge can last you many years, depending on the condition of your AC’s hardware.

Recharging an AC unit is simple, and you can do it yourself.

Step 1: Get the Right Refrigerant

Refrigerant is the cooling liquid of an AC unit. That is what you need to change to recharge an RV AC. Getting the correct refrigerant is crucial if you want to ensure maximum performance from your AC.

First, you need to identify what refrigerant your camper’s AC uses. You will probably have to consult the owner’s manual for this one. Most RV’s use R-410A these days, but you can never be sure. There’s still a fair number of them that use R-404yf. Older RV AC’s use R-22 Freon.

Step 2: Safety Measures

Now, you probably don’t want severe electrocution while recharging an AC, do you? Nobody wants that, so cut off the power supply of your RV before fiddling with anything. To do that, you need to turn off the breaker panel connected to the AC unit.

A full-powered jolt from an AC unit is no joke. Your whole body will go stiff as an icicle, and it won’t be from the cold.

Step 3: Uncover the Interior

You can proceed to remove the cover of the AC unit after killing the power. The lid is different for each manufacturer. Some coverings may be screwed on, while others might have clasps holding them in place.

Find out how your casing works from the user’s manual, or through careful observation. You might need to do some dusting and cleaning in this step depending on the condition of your AC. It is not uncommon to find cobwebs, beehives, or wasp nests in such places if you haven’t touched them in years.

Step 4: Identify Existing Refrigerant Level

You will need a set of refrigerant gauges for this step. A refrigerant gauge has two pressure meters connected to a manifold. One of the meters should be blue and the other should be red. The blue gauge is for the low-pressure setting, and the red gauge is for the high pressure.

There should be three hoses on the manifold. One for each gauge, and one in the middle for the refrigerant storage. The gauges generally have three colored rings in the middle.

Orange is for R 404A, pink is for R410A, and the green ring marks R422A. R134A is another refrigerant type that should be marked light blue, but most gauges do not have that. Watch the gauge for the color of your refrigerant to measure the pressure. Do not go beyond the threshold specified on your AC unit.

There should be an access port somewhere on your AC unit. Connect the hose from the low-pressure valve to measure the pressure.

Most people think that the AC unit is empty when they need to recharge it. That is a huge mistake. An AC unit is never fully empty, and if you recharge them without a gauge, you might end up overcharging it. Overcharging a unit is the last thing you want to do, trust me.

Step 5: Test the Unit

Now connect the yellow hose (the one in the middle of the gauge) to your refrigerant container. Slowly release the valve on the blue side of your manifold. That should start the transfer process.

The difference between air temperature and AC unit temperature should start varying as the refrigerant level increases. The storage temperature should be around -6 °C after the refrigerant reaches maximum capacity. That’s it, your AC recharge is done.


Additional Steps for Recharging A Dirty AC Unit

Recharging an AC is a simple process, but that is assuming your AC is in tip-top condition. Most of us only touch our AC units while applying anti-freeze for the winter.

One of the most common issues with RV AC’s is a dirty filter. It will reduce the effect of fresh refrigerant, so you must clean this before recharging. You could outright get a new filter, but most filters are reusable. So, you could save a lot of money by cleaning them.

You could try these methods to clean your filter:


You can take the filter off and submerge it in lukewarm water. You may want to mix some mild soap or dishwashing liquid in there for good measure.

Submerge it in the liquid for fifteen minutes, then let it air dry. Don’t let it sit in harsh sunlight for too long.

Vacuum cleaner

If the grime isn’t too hard to remove, you could try vacuuming. That will remove all the loose dust and other undesirables.

Be sure not to apply too much pressure to avoid damaging the filter. Also, avoid as many bumps as you can.


Refrigerant leaks very slowly from your camper’s air conditioning system over quite a long period of time. However, recharging the unit to make it fully functional again takes just about 15-30 minutes if you are well-aware of the steps to follow.


Costs to Recharge an RV Air Conditioner

The costs incurred in recharging an RV air conditioner usually range between $150 to $400 and may vary with the type of refrigerant required, the amount of coolant needed, the type of air conditioner, as well as the specific model. The fact that it calls for tapping into your coolant line makes it an expensive process.


RV Air Conditioner Recharge Kit

Recharging the air conditioner all by yourself becomes a lot easier and saves some dollars when you get an RV recharge kit. A regular recharge kit consists of a hose, a few cans of coolant, and a valve. All it takes is a simple click of the handle on the hose to attach it to the air conditioner port and start the process.


The hose also features an AC pressure gauge which serves the purpose of letting you know if the unit is full, needs to be recharged, or simply calls for a coolant top up. Once you are aware of the coolant level, you know how much coolant you need to add in the chamber of your air conditioner.


While working with a recharge kit, it’s essential to get an accurate reading by hooking the hose and gauge to the right valve. If you do not find any ports on your air conditioner, it means the manufacturers have not designed the unit for recharging. In that case, the only choice left is to replace the unit with another air conditioner.


Make sure to confirm the exact model, make, location and engine of your RV air conditioner before purchasing a recharge kit to make it compatible with your specific machine. Different recreational vehicles call for different levels of charges when filling up the unit.



How To Tell If Your RV AC Unit Needs A Recharge

Is your AC running all day but still not cooling your camper? Did you check for insulation leakage and found none? Then it’s probably your AC unit that’s causing the problem. I’ll tell you how to figure out when your AC needs a Recharge.

  • Warm air from the vent

Refrigerant absorbs the heat from the air, turning it cold. The cold air then comes out of the vent. It is something present in every AC unit out there.

If your ac works fine but lacks the coldness, the most probable cause would be a lack of refrigerant.

  • No Ice On Refrigerant Line

Refrigerant is a cold substance. It causes frost to form on the line that transports it. A line with full Freon should have at least a little bit of frost on it.

Take off your AC unit cover and check the refrigerant line. If it has no frost on it, then you need a recharge ASAP.

  • Unusual Noise from the AC

Hissing noise is worse than running out of refrigerant. Sometimes you might even hear the noise of dry straws.

It’s worse than running out of refrigerant because you now need repairs too. That kind of sound generally indicates that your refrigerant line is damaged. A lot of refrigerants probably escaped by the time you noticed the issue.

It is a fairly easy task as long as you have the right tools. Be sure not to skip cleaning the filters and other interior parts to make the recharging process smoother.