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.
- Best OverallA/C Pro Auto Air Conditioning Recharge BundleSummarySummaryAC Pro makes one of the best air conditioning recharge kits available. This product comes with a lot of added pieces and excellent customer satisfaction.ProsProsThe AC Pro Freon kit comes with three different solutions, seals dried gaskets, and has a recharge hose and built-in low-pressure gauge.ConsConsThis AC refill kit can be challenging to use for some people and is far more expensive than other options.
- Best ValueDuPont 3 Cans R-134a Suva A/C Automotive RefrigerantSummarySummaryThe mechanic’s choice for recharging your AC is DuPont's three-can solution. It is also one of the most affordable on the market.ProsProsDuPont's recharging kit is incredibly affordable, comes equipped with a pressure gauge, and is a pure refrigerant that’s clean of any additives.ConsConsThis AC recharging kit is not legal in California due to emission laws and does not come included with a hose.
- Honorable MentionInterdynamics MAC-134 EZ Chill Refrigerant RefillSummarySummaryInterdynamics’ EZ Chill Refrigerant kit is a comprehensive recharging solution that includes a stop leak protection additive.ProsProsThe EZ Chill refill revitalizes rubber hoses, gaskets, and o-rings; restores lost oils; comes with a charging hose; and has an easy-to-read pressure gauge.ConsConsThis AC recharging solution includes several additives that may not be needed for your system and is more expensive than some options.
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 high-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.
AC Pro created some of the most popular names in do-it-yourself AC repair, including A/C Pro, Interdynamics, and Arctic Freeze. These brands are all under the parent Company IDQ Inc., which has been in business for over 40 years, providing air conditioning products. The company is headquartered in both Brooklyn, NY (formerly just the Interdynamics HQ before the companies merged in 2008) and in Dallas, TX.
XtremePowerUSA is a power tool and fitness manufacturer based in Chino, CA. 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.
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 high-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 2019
Best AC Recharge Kit Overall: A/C Pro Auto Air Conditioning Recharge Bundle
When researching what is the best AC recharge kit, you're guaranteed to come across AC Pro's great product. Frequently a top contender among the competition, this product earns its high praise by delivering results. The company even claims that its solution has been proven in more than 2 million vehicles.
AC Pro offers a recharging bundle that comes with a recharging gas and lubricant, a stop leak solution, and a vent cleaner. This self AC recharge kit is most notable for its rejuvenating qualities that help keep your AC system running smoothly. The solution seals any shriveled or dried gaskets and revitalizes rubber seals. The kit is easy to use thanks to its recharge hose and trigger dispenser with a built-in, low-pressure gauge.
While this is the best AC refill kit available, there are issues that some people have run into. Because of AC Pro's three-solution setup, some users have found it challenging to use. This product is also notably more expensive than most Freon cans.
Best AC Recharge Kit Value: DuPont 3 Cans R-134a Suva A/C Automotive Refrigerant
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.
Best AC Recharge Kit Honorable Mention: Interdynamics MAC-134 EZ Chill Refrigerant Refill
A handy all-in-one product, Interdynamics offers a great R134a recharging kit. The EZ Chill refrigerant is perfect for a quick fix and can quickly fix small leaks in your air conditioning system. This Freon solution is a great median between comprehensive protection and being cost-effective.
In addition to recharging your car's AC system, this kit also contains 3 ounces of additives that eliminate moisture and restore lost oils. It includes a stop leak solution that revitalizes rubber hoses, gaskets, and o-rings. This product comes with a charging hose, a convenient push-button trigger, and an easy-to-use pressure gauge.
While Interdynamics’ EZ Chill Freon is an excellent solution for some, it ultimately depends on your situation. If you're not experiencing any leaks, you may not want a product with all the extra additives. Also, EZ Chill is more expensive than your average Freon can.
- 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 high-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 A/C Pro Auto Air Conditioning Recharge Bundle. For users looking to recharge their AC without breaking the bank, the DuPont 3 Cans R-134a Suva A/C Automotive Refrigerant is a great option.
Make sure to tell us how they worked out in the comments below!
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