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Can RV Air Conditioners Be Recharged?

On an especially warm day – or just after working outside, air conditioning can be a big reward. Air conditions do require some maintenance to fulfull their ability to cool down your RV. Some understanding how an air conditioner works can go a long way in keeping the unit working as well as it can.

But what kind of maintenance does your RV air conditioner need? You may have heard about “air conditioner recharging,” but what does it mean? Does an air conditioner need to be plugged in to recharge?

A RV air conditioner doesn’t ‘need’ recharging in a literal sense. RVs can develop potentially larger issues that some people call recharging ranging from mechanical failure to powr issues.  We will explain in further detail below.

What does it mean to “recharge?”

You’ve most likely seen the phrase “recharge” on a flyer for an air conditioning company, or on a commercial on TV. These ads usually talk about how to get ice cold air conditioning in preparation for summer. The nice part about these ads is that they generally acknowledge that your air conditioner might need some help blowing air as cold as possible.

But “recharge” applies more literally to a vehicle air conditioner. Your RV does have an air conditioner built in to the dashboard that uses a chemical called Freon to pull the warmth out of warm air. Freon does very gradually wear out over the course of years.

That said, if you recently “recharged” your AC or your car is fairly new, you might actually have a slow leak that is causing freon to leave the closed system its in.

So can RV air conditioners be “recharged?”

If recharging means helping your air conditioner work it’s best, yes. An air conditioner is not supposed to need “recharging” in the sense that the liquid, either Freon or R134a is not supposed to leak. Like a car’s air conditioner, the coolant in your air conditioner is meant to be closed. Coolant should not wear out – if your AC feels like it’s not as cool as it used to be, it could be leaking.

What a service company will more likely do is check to ensure other parts of your air conditioner are working properly. This includes checking for leaks within the vents and the coolant tank.

If a service tech finds a leak within your coolant tank, or otherwise measures that your coolant tank is low – you’ve probably found your problem.

In this way, recharging means filling up the tank with coolant. You shouldn’t have to do this but every few years at most, or if a leak occurs.

How can I tell if my AC needs a recharge?

The easiest way to know is if your fan keeps going at full speed, but your RV isn’t cooling down much.

We can’t offer overly specific details about how to test to see if your RV has the right amount of coolant. We can tell you that you’ll need to go on the roof of your RV with some disposable gloves and goggles.

You may also want to order or buy a test kit for your air conditioner. A test kit generally consists of a pressure gauge and other tells to see how much coolant you have left and its function.

Read the instructions on the test kit thoroughly. You can also purchase coolant separately in most cases to add to your air conditioner if needed. You’ll want to find the manual for your AC as well to know what amount of pressure and what volume of coolant it needs.

The actual act of pouring the coolant into the container shouldn’t be at all difficult once you again access to it. A bit more expertise and instruction reading might be necessary once the liquid is in the tank. The pressure needs to be right in order for the coolant to be properly coo while being able to expand and evaporate.

You might be able to tell more quickly within the dashboard unit. An AC leak can produce a musty smell – and of course your AC won’t work well at all.

Do air conditioners need any other form of recharging?

Asking if an RV air conditioner needs recharging implies you might have a problem with your AC, or you intend to maintain it. 

You should also take a look at the rest of your air conditioner. Is it making any unusual noises – or not making enough noise? A lack of cooling doesn’t necessarily mean you the issue is with your coolant.

Otherwise, your air conditioner generally needs maintenance to keep blowing cold air. Also, keep in mind that if your coolant does leak – you probably didn’t do anything wrong. The sealants and 

What if my AC did leak?

If freon or R134a did leak, you should get your kids and pets out of the RV and stay away from the air conditioner. The air in your RV could become contaminated with a liquid meant to remove the heat from air outside.

If you do see part of your AC leaking, contact a technician to replace the coolant container and coolant. You can do part of this yourself, but a trained professional is better off directly handling a leaking container.


Recharging can mean a lot of things. We hope it means basic maintenance because your air conditioner most likely needs it every year. Basic maintenance and a “recharge” when necessary will give you some confidence that your air conditioner will work when you need it. 

Recharging can also be a bit more difficult than you might think. Providing the right cooling requires just the right amount of coolant and pressure. Reading the instructions will certainly help, but a skilled technician might be more efficient and helpful than trying to figure it out by yourself.

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