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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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
- 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.