The Best AC Recharge Kit (Review) in 2020

One of the worst things to break on your vehicle is the air conditioning. In winter, spring, and fall it’s...

Best Choice
InterDynamics Ultra Synthetic Air Conditioning
InterDynamics Ultra Synthetic Air Conditioning
Premium Pick
Robinair RG3 Portable Refrigerant Recovery Machine
Robinair RG3 Portable Refrigerant Recovery Machine
Best Value
DuPont Automotive Refrigerant
DuPont Automotive Refrigerant

One of the worst things to break on your vehicle is the air conditioning. In winter, spring, and fall it’s not so bad driving around without AC. But when summer hits, most people will pay out large sums of money to get it fixed.

With an AC recharge kit, you can do it yourself. In many cases, it is a matter of connecting the AC recharger to the service port and following a few simple instructions. In a matter of minutes, your air conditioner is blowing cold air again. Check out our picks for top-quality AC recharge kits.

The Best AC Recharge Kits

Riding in a hot vehicle on a stifling day is a miserable experience in anyone’s life. But you can fix the problem easily and quickly with A/C Pro from InterDynamics. It is a great way to reboot your vehicle’s air conditioning. 

Attach the hose to the service port on your vehicle’s AC system and follow the simple instructions provided. (Reference to an instructional video is also provided.) In as little as 15 minutes, including reading the instructions, you can have cool air blowing into your car, truck, or SUV again. This product has an acid and moisture eliminator built into the formula. The trigger and hose are also reusable, so if you need more R-134a for your vehicle or another vehicle, just buy a refill can. The built-in pressure and temperature indicators are also reusable. 

Key Features
  • Has an acid and moisture eliminator
  • Trigger dispenser is reusable 
  • Built-in temperature and pressure indicators
Specification
  • Brand InterDynamics
  • Model ACP-100
  • Weight 1.5 pounds
PROS

24-inch hose for easy access to service ports

Easy to use

Works on most vehicles

Rated number one for coldest air

CONS

Pressure gauge may not be accurate

You may need to manually engage the compressor

Instructions may be difficult to understand

These cans of R-134a refrigerant are just what you need to recharge your AC system. They recharge older vehicles that were made for R-12 refrigerant as well as most newer vehicles. 

The formula contains no dyes, stop leak, or oils—they are pure refrigerant so you don’t have to worry about a Freon mix causing problems in your AC system. In fact, this DuPont formula meets SAE and AHRI (Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute) high standards.

Key Features
  • Contains no dyes, stop-leak, or oils
  • Meets SAE J2776 and AHRI-700 standard for purity
  • Compatible with all 1994-2010 vehicles and most vehicles beyond 2010
Specification
  • Brand DuPont
  • Model Chemours
  • Weight 15.8 ounces
PROS

Can be used it to retrofit R-12 AC systems; recharge R-134a systems as well

Economical fix

100 percent Freon, no oils or dyes

CONS

Not for use in California

Cans are not self-sealing

Some cans may be low in pressure

If you need to evacuate a/c systems, order this Robinair recovery machine. It is small and very portable. It weighs only 22 pounds, so you can take it almost anywhere your recovery work requires.

The unit efficiently evacuates both vapor and liquid from air conditioning systems. The refrigerants it removes include HFC, CFC, HCFC, and R-410A. The unit has an automatic shut-off valve in case pressure goes over 550 PSI. The “cross flow” design has a condenser and fan layout that produces short cycle times. 

Key Features
  • Recovers both liquid and vapor
  • Lightweight and compact
  • For use with many refrigerants
  • Automatic shut-off valve
Specification
  • Brand Robinair
  • Model RG3
  • Weight 22.2 pounds
PROS

Easy to carry and transport

Handles HFC, CFC, HCFC, and R-410A

Safely shuts down if pressure exceeds 550 PSI

CONS

May be slow for larger units

Unit may not last very long

Hoses may not be correct for some jobs

Do you have an older vehicle whose AC doesn’t work, and are you looking for an environmentally-friendly refrigerant? This kit from REDTEK can solve your problems. The refrigerant is entirely organic and does not deplete the earth’s ozone layer. And it does not contribute to global warming nor harm metal or synthetic parts.

Use this kit to revitalize your older vehicle’s AC, even if it hasn’t worked in years. This refrigerant replaces R-12 and R-134a and does not harm the system you’re recharging. Along with refrigerant, this kit comes with a gauge, hose, and instructions, which is everything you need to recharge your vehicle’s AC. When you’re recharging, be careful not to cross-thread the adaptor. Also, monitor the hose/gauge setup because it may leak. 

Key Features
  • Environmentally-friendly
  • Compatible with refrigerant materials
  • Non-caustic
  • Saves energy costs
Specification
  • Brand REDTEK
  • Model 333
PROS

100-percent organic, natural refrigerant

Does not harm synthetic or metal components

Works at low head pressures

CONS

Input adapter may cross-thread

Hose/gauge may leak

Adaptor may be missing

LeakStop may not stop the leak

For an easy-to-use product, pick this refrigerant from InterDynamics. Not only is it easy to use, it is economical as well and it could save you hundreds of dollars versus taking it to a repair shop. 

The “Quick-Boost” formula of this Freon gives you cold air as much as 50% faster than other mixes. This is an economically priced kit that has clear instructions, which novice repair people especially can appreciate. You can begin repairing your AC system as soon as the kit arrives because the kit is also complete—no special tools or training is required to get your system working again. Your car, SUV, or truck’s AC will soon begin blowing cool air, even if it’s an older vehicle whose AC hasn’t worked in years. The gauge in most cases works great but use caution: some people have reported inaccuracies. Also, you might want to get an extra can of refrigerant in case one is not enough.

Key Features
  • “QuickBoost” formula for cold air as much as 50-percent faster
  • Stops leaks
  • Extends AC system life
Specification
  • Brand InterDynamics
  • Model AF-22
  • Weight 8 ounces
PROS

Easy to use

Reasonably priced

Easy-to-follow instructions

No extra tools required

As much as a 50 degree difference

CONS

Gauge may not be accurate

Hose could be longer

One can may not be enough

This kit has the tools you need to diagnose and repair AC systems. The high-efficiency vacuum pump effectively removes the refrigerant so you can use it later, while it also removes moisture and air from the system so you’re ready to recharge. Use the HVAC-type gauges to accurately monitor the pressure in the system. The multi-colored hoses help you keep organized, and the kit includes most fittings and connectors you need for removing and replacing the refrigerant. 

The pump housing is made from alloy aluminum, so it is light yet durable. The pump has an oil fill port designed for simple filling and draining. Also included is a handy carrying case that has room for all of this kit’s components. Note: You may need to purchase some adaptors separately, and the instructions provided with this kit could be better written.

Key Features
  • High efficiency vacuum pump
  • HVAC service gauge set
  • Easy oil change feature
  • Complete set
Specification
  • Brand XtremepowerUS
  • Model 71097
  • Weight 17.65 pounds
PROS

Works with R-134A, R-12, R-410A, and R-22

Diecast aluminum housing is durable yet light

Includes hoses, gauges, oil, storage bag, and accessories

CONS

Some connections may need an adaptor

Quarter-inch SAE male unions not included as shown

Poor instructions

Best AC Recharge Kit Buying Guide & FAQ

An AC recharge kit is a great way to get your AC system blowing cool air again. And you can do it yourself, saving hundreds of dollars. Many kits include everything you need to recharge your system, so you don’t need special tools or training. 

Most include enough refrigerant for a full recharge, hoses to connect to your system, adaptors for a secure connection, and a gauge to monitor pressure as you do the job. This is a simple task with an AC recharge kit. It  can take as little as 15 minutes to get your vehicle’s AC system working again. 

Why Do You Need an AC Recharge Kit

Let’s face it: It can be brutal entering and traveling in a car without air conditioning. For some, especially those with health issues and people who are on certain medications, it can be dangerous. These are the main reasons why you need a kit to recharge your AC so it works properly. 

Another good reason to purchase an AC recharge kit is to avoid paying someone else to recharge your system when you can do this rather simple job yourself. Diagnosing and repairing AC systems is one of the biggest money makers for auto repair shops. In many cases, you can avoid a big bill by purchasing your own kit and completing the task.

Plus, it’s easy. For many recharge jobs, it’s just a matter of attaching a hose to the can of refrigerant and the other end to the low pressure port on your vehicle’s AC system. From there, just follow the instructions provided. You’ll soon be relaxing in cool air again.

Benefits

  • Avoid a hot vehicle.
  • It’s DIY, so you can save money.
  • It’s a relatively easy job.

Mechanic check car air conditioner system in garage

Types of AC Recharge Kits

AC recharge kits vary from simple cans of refrigerant to an entire kit of hoses, pumps, connectors, and gauges. We’ll go over the various types so you can have a good understanding of what you need to do the job before buying one and starting the process. Our goal is to save you time, money, and energy.

  • Cans of Refrigerant

The cans in these kits are under pressure, so you simply need to connect to your vehicle’s AC system with a hose or fitting, and the refrigerant flows in. Most of the kits include three cans of refrigerant, so you have enough to refill the system (and maybe some left over for another vehicle). 

You must be sure you have the correct refrigerant for your car, truck, or SUV. For example, the original R-12 used in older vehicles is no longer legal to use. As an alternative, you can use R-134A as a replacement. This formula does not harm the environment, it is less likely to leak, and it is more efficient. 

  • Canister with Gauge

With this type of kit, you get the refrigerant, a gauge to determine when the proper amount of refrigerant has entered the system, a fitting or connector, and a hose to connect to your AC system correctly. These are probably the easiest types of AC recharge kits to use because they’re simple to connect and simple to monitor. 

Before you buy, you must determine what type of refrigerant your vehicle requires. Choices are R-134A, R-410A, and R-22. You can find this information in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Use the same refrigerant as a replacement to get your car, truck, or SUV’s AC working optimally again.

  • Comprehensive Kit

These kits are more professional and have the components you need to help diagnose and repair your AC system. They include a pump of some kind and gauges so you can remove the refrigerant that remains in your system for use later. You use the pump to remove air and moisture from the system when you’re ready to recharge. The gauges are for monitoring system pressure while you do the job.

These kits also have adaptors for the various types of connections out there. Hoses are also included, and some kits have a handy carrying case to help you keep all of these parts together and organized. 

What to Look for When Buying an AC Recharge Kit

When buying an AC recharge kit, look for three basic attributes: compatibility, ease of use, and price. If the kit you choose has these three items, you’re pretty much good to go and on your way toward a working AC in your vehicle. We’ll walk you through these three basic components. 

  • Compatibility

Make sure you pick an AC recharge kit that has the refrigerant you need because there are a variety of them. These include R-12, R-134A, R-410A, and R-22. You can determine the type of refrigerant your vehicle has in its AC system by referencing the owner’s manual. 

As we noted previously, you can no longer use R-12 to recharge your system. R-134A is a good replacement refrigerant. The canisters in your AC recharge kit should say very clearly what refrigerant is contained inside. Using the wrong one will damage your vehicle’s AC. If you have any questions about which refrigerant is the correct one, contact your vehicle’s manufacturer, the maker of the AC recharge kit, or the kit’s distributor. 

  • Ease of Use

Get a kit that is simple for you to use. Are you handy with gauges and pumps? If so, get a more comprehensive kit. Do you have hoses and gauges as part of your tools? Then you need a kit that includes just the Freon. If you feel comfortable with a setup that has a simple gauge and hose, get the canister version.

The point is, determine what level of expertise you are at with repairing and recharging AC systems. There’s a kit that corresponds to your level. Do the research to find the right one. Read the specs and check the reviews. 

  • Price

Price is a concern for any vehicle owner, especially when it comes to AC repair and recharging. It’s possible to get up and going for around $25. This gets you a basic refrigerant refill. Other AC recharge kits include cleaners and stop leak formulas that renovate your AC system as well. AC recharge kits that have these extras cost around $75. When you approach $100, the AC recharge kit includes hoses, gauges, adaptors, etc. 

Determine what your budget can handle. Do your research and make your choice of an AC recharge kit that you feel comfortable with price-wise. Remember, to get your AC system working again is supposed to be a simple, relatively inexpensive job.

Tips for Buying and Using an AC Recharge Kit

Safety is of paramount when working with refrigerant. Always wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from any that may escape through leaky or faulty seals. Also, wear rubber gloves to protect your hands if they should come in contact with Freon. 

Purchase the correct refrigerant. Buying and installing the wrong one will damage your vehicle’s AC system. Follow instructions carefully. Aside from adding the wrong refrigerant, it is difficult to damage your AC system, but not following instructions carefully can waste time and energy, and lead to frustration. Most installations of Freon are easy to do, providing you follow the step-by-step instructions. Most installations should only take about 15 minutes.

Note: if you add Freon and your system still blows warm air, have a professional check your system for leaks. If you have leaky seals, no amount of additional coolant will make your AC work properly. 

  • Put safety first by wearing rubber gloves and safety glasses.
  • Purchase the correct refrigerant.
  • Follow the installation instructions carefully to avoid frustration.
  • A professional inspection may be necessary if you system will not blow cool air.

Mechanic check car air conditioner system

Best AC Recharge Kit FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions for people unfamiliar with air conditioning systems, required refrigerants, and AC repair procedures. Remember, recharging your system should be relatively easy and safe. 

Basic knowledge is a good thing to have when doing any repair. It’s best to feel reasonably confident about performing the work before you start, even if it’s your first time doing that repair. Researching and watching videos can help greatly.

Q: What is Freon (a.k.a. refrigerant), and how does it work?

A: Freon is a chemical especially formulated to work in evaporator-type air conditioning systems to produce cold air. Adding cold air (or changing the hot air in your car or truck to cool air) reduces the temperature inside the vehicle and makes riding in it more comfortable.

Q: Are refrigerants toxic and therefore harmful to people and the environment?

A: Yes, refrigerants are toxic. Therefore, it is imperative that you wear safety glasses and rubber gloves when working with them. While today’s refrigerants are safer than previous versions, they are still harmful to you and the environment. Safe storage, use, and working conditions cannot be overstated.

Q: How often should I recharge my air conditioning system? 

A: You should not need to recharge a system more than once every two or three years. If you find your system is blowing hot air rather than cool air more often than this, you may have major leaks in the system that require professional repair.

Our Top Pick

Our choice for the best AC recharge kit is the A/C Pro ACP 100. It is fast and easy to use, and it is rated number one for the coolest air. This kit has an acid and moisture eliminator and the trigger dispenser is reusable in case you need more refrigerant on the application or for other vehicles. It also features a long, 24-inch hose for easy access to service ports and built-in temperature and pressure indicators.