LAST UPDATED: June 26, 2019
Best AC Recharge Kits: Beat the Heat With These Top Picks
An AC recharging kit is a fast and easy way to survive summer driving
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PUBLISHED ON June 26, 2019
Imagine being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a brutally hot summer day when, unexpectedly, your car's AC stops blowing cold air. Not only is this going to make your drive unbearable until the issue is resolved, but who knows how much it would cost for a mechanic to fix? Luckily, these top kits are the best way to recharge a car AC.
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Benefits of AC Recharge Kit
- Avoid heat. The most obvious reason you’ll want to fix your AC is so that you don't have to sit in scathing heat all summer. Hot weather can be brutal, especially in your car and in direct sunlight.
- Avoid the mechanic. AC recharging kits are great because they can give you the results you want without a trip to your mechanic. Avoiding the big bill that inevitably follows, you can instead opt for the do-it-yourself option.
- Easy use. The best part about the recharging sets you can buy for your car's AC is that they're very user-friendly. Typically, you just need to attach the hose to the Freon can and the low-pressure port in your vehicle.
Types of AC Recharge Kits
Air conditioning in cars was initially offered as an aftermarket add-on in the 1930s. It wasn't until 1939 that the first car manufacturer started to provide it as an option, with others following shortly behind. The original refrigerant used was called R12. These systems were eventually replaced in the 1990s due to emission regulations. They are still available on a limited basis for drivers who own vehicles older than 1995, although restrictions will be outlawing them altogether by 2020.
When emission concerns started to get regulated more carefully, a new air conditioning refrigerant was developed. R134a systems have been used in vehicles for the past two decades. These systems are much more efficient than their predecessor. They are also less likely to develop leaks, which is helpful to the environment and saves you money in the long run.
XtremePowerUSA is a power tool and fitness manufacturer based in Chino, California. The company offers a large selection of HVAC recharge kit products, from a simple Gauge Setup to a full Air Vacuum Pump kit. The company started by focusing on heavy-duty demolition tools. Today, its comprehensive product line includes hunting equipment, pool accessories, and fitness machines.
Kozyvacu is a brand owned by Kozyard LLC. It's a company that has brands ranging from outdoor furniture to OEM car parts. It started selling to customers directly in 2016 and is very proud of its Better Business Bureau “A” rating. The company offers a very popular car air conditioning refrigerant recharge kit & gauge.
Red Tek is a Canadian company that was established in 2010. It specializes in environmentally-friendly lubricants, refrigerants, and corrosion inhibitors. Look for its DyeCharge12 AC Leak Finder.
AC Recharge Kit Pricing
- $40 and under: The least expensive and most common type of recharging kits are Freon cans. These often come with small hoses and gauges attached for an easy DIY job. These typically don't last as long as other kits.
- $40-$90: Some of the best AC refill kits are available in this mid-price range. These recharging bundles include several different components to clean out and recharge your air conditioning system properly. These have the benefit of lasting longer than Freon cans while still being fairly easy to use.
- $90 and over: At a much higher price point, many manufacturers offer a "complete tool kit" for recharging your AC. These generally include a high-powered vacuum, gauges, hoses, and a refrigerant. While being the most comprehensive kit, they are more complicated to use.
The most important part of an AC recharging kit is Freon. This is the chemical solution used to create cold air in your air conditioning. Freon is the brand name for Chlorofluorocarbon, which is an organic compound. Most kits use an aerosol can or a pump to deliver the solution to your AC unit.
Without the proper equipment, it's going to be impossible to recharge your air conditioning. In order to refill the coolant, you need to connect a hose from the Freon to the low-pressure port located in the engine bay. Some of the best R134a refrigerant kits come with a hose included, and others require you to buy one separately.
The canisters that contain the refrigerant in your AC recharging kit may come with a pressure gauge. This is an incredibly useful tool for both application and storage. While using the product, the pressure gauge will tell you how much refrigerant you've added and when to stop.
- Living Conditions: Depending on where you're located, your air conditioning needs are going to be different. If your summers are short or cold, then you can probably get away with a shorter-term solution for AC troubles.
- Emissions: While the newer refrigerants are notably less toxic than older ones, it's still important to be aware of emission laws and your vehicle's condition. Some Freon solutions are not legal in California because of emissions, and a leak in your AC system can significantly harm the environment.
- Stop Leak: One helpful additive that some AC refills include is stop leak additive. This is a protective additive that reseals the rubber pieces in your system and can prevent leaks in the most vulnerable areas.
Best AC Recharge Kit Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This is a versatile kit with a simple yet powerful air vacuum pump. It's designed for efficient and quick AC system service, allowing you to save quite some money on mechanics. The process is rather simple, and the kit proves to be of excellent quality.
The pump is very convenient for removing excess moisture and preparing the system for a refrigerant refill. Thanks to the internal cooling fan, it works almost silently and you can use it for extended periods. Also, the pump has a rugged outer shell. The die-cast aluminum alloy ensures reliability and durability. Additionally, there's a leak prevention system for safe and easy transportation and storage.
The package also includes a manifold gauge kit you can use for diagnosing, repairing, and refilling AC systems. It's suitable for R12, R22, R134a, and R410a systems.
The only thing missing from the kit is the can tap valve that attaches to the hose. You'll have to buy one separately, which is quite an inconvenience considering the price of the kit. Also, some customers complained about the instructions not being clear enough.
DuPont may be one of the most recognizable names on this list, and its products frequently receive rave reviews. This incredibly affordable option comes with three 12-ounce cans of Freon. The Freon 134a solution is also notable for meeting both the AHRI-700 and SAE J2776 Purity Standards.
DuPont's AC recharge bundle is often hailed as the best Freon for car AC systems by mechanics. This is not just because of its low price point, but also because it still manages to achieve great results. This solution is a pure refrigerant, meaning it doesn't use any additives. Some chemicals that are used with Freon recharge kits can actually make your AC warmer. Despite being an inexpensive option, DuPont's product still comes with a pressure gauge to let you know how much coolant has been used.
Although it’s a great option, this AC recharge kit has its drawbacks. Despite having several purity achievements, this product is illegal in California because of their strict emission laws. This kit also doesn't come with a hose to use, so if you do not have one, you'll have to buy it separately.
The Kozyvacu kit includes everything you need to test, repair, and recharge your AC system. There's a pressure gauge set, three 4-foot hoses, a quick coupler, and a can tap. You'll even get a carry bag for simple transportation and storage. Overall, the kit is very easy to use. All you need to do is to follow the instructions.
The package includes a high-quality vacuum pump designed for keeping your AC system in the best condition. It features a sturdy aluminum housing that can withstand some abuse and last for a while. The pump is simply-designed, so no particular maintenance is necessary.
Still, most buyers are not satisfied with the quality of the included can tap. It sometimes requires modification and leveling to work properly, which is why you might end up buying a new one separately. The pump also might get quite warm on extended use, and require you to take breaks every once in a while.
Those who are looking for a professional-grade machine will be thrilled with this one from Robinair. It's an efficient device that allows for quick and successful refrigerant recovery. You can use it on all kinds of systems, for both home and commercial purposes.
The machine is compact and lightweight, so you can take it with you if necessary. Buyers also love how versatile it is. It works with all standard CFC, HFC, and HFC refrigerants, which means you can use it for all kinds of AC systems around the house.
What makes the machine even more special is its impressive construction. Meant to withstand daily and heavy use, the machine has a cross-flow design for more efficiency. It also has an automatic shut-off switch in case the pressure rises too much, so safety is guaranteed.
However, keep in mind that the machine runs slowly and the entire process might take a while. Also, it might not be a perfect option for those who are on a tight budget. This is a high-end machine suitable for professionals, and it proves to be on the expensive side.
This is another high-quality kit from Kozyvacu. It's a complete refrigerant changing kit that allows you to get the job done in a breeze. Thanks to its compatibility with all kinds of systems, including R410a and R502, you can use it for most applications around the house.
The kit comes with an air vacuum pump, a manifold gauge kit, a bottle of oil, and the necessary hoses. The pump is of excellent quality and proves to be very efficient. The cast aluminum housing is lightweight and highly portable, yet still very durable. The manifold gauge kit is also quite convenient for measuring the pressure, and it's very easy to use.
What can be an issue with this kit are the connectors. Some buyers complained about them not creating an adequate seal. The instructions are not very helpful, either. Furthermore, you might find that the kit comes with just enough oil to get through the entire process.
The Mofeez Pro AC Diagnostic Manifold Freon Gauge Set is a budget-friendly AC diagnostic manifold gauge that includes all the professional-level equipment you need to assess and recharge your AC.
Suitable for R134A, R12, and R22, the set includes three colored 36-inch long service hoses with 0.25-inch flare fittings, one 0.25-inch male gauge, one ACME adapter that’s 0.25-inch male to 0.5-inch female, and a R134A valve spanner.
The set is made of bass, plastic, aluminum, and PVC and functions with 3,000 PSI burst pressure and 600 PSI maximum working pressure. For easy use, the high-pressure hose is red and the low-pressure hose is blue, so there’s no chance for confusion. The entire AC recharge kit weighs just 4.14 pounds, which makes it lightweight and easy to carry.
The Orion Motor Tech 3 Way AC Diagnostic Manifold Gauge Set is a highly versatile and easy-to-use AC recharge kit. It’ll make the process of freon charging any auto AC system easier and can be used for R134A, R12, R22, and R502 refrigerants. This set can be used to recharge your AC system or diagnose problems.
Whether you’re charging, running a diagnostic check, or trying to fix your AC, you’ll have all the tools you need. The kit includes three five-foot extra-long freon charging hoses in three colors: red for high pressure, blue for low pressure, and yellow for the refrigerant container.
A three-way gauge, two adjustable couplers, a can tap, and an ACME adapter are also in the custom carrying case. The hoses, gauges, and couplers can withstand frequent use, and they’re easy to understand whether you’re an auto pro or a novice home mechanic.
- If your vehicle was made before 1995, it’s possible that you have an R12 AC system. These air conditioners require different refrigerants that are becoming increasingly hard to find because of emission laws.
- If the AC recharge kit that you’re buying does not explicitly say that it comes with a hose, you should buy one separately. It is the only way to deliver the coolant into your vehicle’s AC system.
- If you recharge your vehicle's AC, but it starts blowing warm air again shortly after, do not just add more Freon. That is a clear indicator that there is some sort of leak or a more significant issue.
- Consider your location and AC use before you purchase any recharging kits. Some kits come with a bulk of refrigerants, which may not be needed for someone who lives in colder climates.
Q: How do you use an AC recharge kit?
A: Any product you buy will show you exactly how to use an AC recharge kit. Typically, you need to first attach the kit to your low-pressure port, start your vehicle, connect the refrigerant, and add the Freon while your air conditioning is on. Other steps might be suggested by specific user manuals and depend on what pieces your kit comes with.
Q: What are refrigerants?
A: AC refrigerant is the mixture used to keep your car cool. The term Freon is used to refer to the class of chemicals used to make these solutions. Every AC recharging kit uses some type of Freon coolant to achieve the desired results.
Q: Are refrigerants toxic?
A: Yes. While the newer chemicals used today are much safer, all coolants are toxic, and leaks are often a big concern. It's also important to know that if there’s a defect in your AC system, it can send toxic air into the cabin.
Q: How frequently does an AC system need recharging?
A: On average, your AC system shouldn’t need to be recharged more than every couple of years (depending on how often your AC is used). If your air conditioning needs more frequent recharging, it’s a sign of bigger issues.
The best AC charging kit available today is the XtremepowerUS A/C Refrigeration Kit.
For users looking to recharge their AC without breaking the bank, the Orion Motor Tech AC Gauge Set is a great option.