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rv trips & travel

Does an RV Air Conditioner Need Freon?

Going on an RV trip means you are probably going to some warm places. Many RV travelers actually use their RVs to find temperate places to stay in the winter and fall. Their home states contend with snow and ice when they are gone.

While in warmer climates, you’ll likely want your air conditioner on. But does your air conditioner need maintenance? Does it seem like it’s blowing less cold air than it used to?

Yes, RV air conditioners need Freon. If your air conditioner isn’t cooling sufficiently, we have some tips and knowledge for you about rv air conditioners in general. There are ways to check whether it’s your freon or a different problem with your air conditioner.

What happened to my freon? Does my RV air conditioner need a freon recharge?

You might need a recharge. Freon is a unique chemical that pulls the heat out of warm air. Your air conditioner uses a fan to blow the now cooled air into your space.

Freon is not supposed to wear out over time but can gradually lose performance for cooling. You might notice this more when you are in a hotter place or when it’s been years since your last recharge. 

The container for Freon is generally quite well sealed. It can, however, degrade itself and leak over time. This is a more common cause of needing additional freon instead of the chemical itself wearing out.

How do I recharge the freon in my RV air conditioner?

Before you begin the process of recharging your freon by yourself, there are a couple of things you should know. First, since freon is in a sealed container – you might actually have a leak. The seals that keep freon inside and cold might be worn out and another crack has formed.

In this case, you are probably going to want to have a professional come look at it and fix the freon container itself.

Please also note that while freon is a tasteless, odorless chemical – you shouldn’t touch it or attempt to inhale it. It’s a chemical designed to intake air and output cold. You don’t want it in your lungs!

To begin replacing freon by yourself, you’ll need to be prepared with a couple things.

  1. Wear protective equipment. This includes glasses, gloves, and preferably something to cover your mouth in the event of a slash.
  1. Check with your RV manual to ensure you have the right kind of freon for your air conditioner. Do not mix brands or types. Only use what the RV asks for.
  2. Turn off the power to your air conditioner unit
  3. You will probably want to consult with the RV manual again in regards to finding and opening the freon part of your AC unit. 
  4. You’ll want to use a coolant gauge to measure the level of existing refrigerant.  
  5. If there isn’t enough, add coolant slowly.
  6. At this point, you can turn the RV AC back on to check to see if it’s getting cooler.
  7. Add more as necessary to maintain the desired cool.
  8. Reassemble your AC unit.

If this sounds complicated to you, or you have protective equipment, you may want to consult a professional. Also, consider that your AC is likely on your roof. Do not climb on the roof if you are not physically able!

Is there another way to know if I need freon in my RV?

Air conditioners are relatively simple machines, so it’s possible to accurately diagnosis your RV air conditioner and a need for freon.

The fan on your air conditioner can be a telltale sign. Does it start up right away when the air conditioner comes on? Does the fan go fast enough that its basically a blur and has some wind coming off it? These are good signs that the fan and motor are doing fine.

It is possible for the battery, or capacitor, within the air conditioner to be too weak. This can cause the fan to go too slow and not provide the desired cooling.

Is a freon leak dangerous?

Leaked freon can be harmful, especially if you don’t know you are being exposed to it. In addition, it’s chemicals are amongst causes of depletion to the o-zone layer.

Since the air conditioner is often on top of the Rv, you are unlikely to even know you have freon leaking until your RV is warmer than desired. Wear protective glasses, gloves, and a mask if you can. Otherwise you may want to just stay away and call a pro.


While freon is not meant to wear down, other problems can make you wonder whether or not your air conditioner is functioning. Your RV probably doesn’t need freon unless another problem has occurred, or it’s been a significant time since the air conditioner was last seen by a pro. 

Please also be cautious. Freon is not a joke and should be kept out of your body and off your skin. If you don’t feel confident or don’t have protective gear, have a professional handle the situation for you.

So to answer the initial question, your RV air conditioner should not need freon. It is possible that there are other issues within your air conditioner that are causing a problem, or that it’s leaking.

That said, enjoy your trips to warmer climates. Being able to get up and go is one of the best parts of having an RV.

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