5 Best AC Recharge Kits – Reviews & Buying Guide
If your car’s air conditioning system begins blowing out hot air, it’s your cue that the AC probably needs recharging.
A DIY recharge kit enables you to perform the recharging without having to visit a professional mechanic. Professional servicing can prove costly.
Recharging your AC system is not a complicated process, and a DIY kit has detailed and simple instructions to guide you through the process.
The recharge kit you buy will be useful only if your car uses the R-134A refrigerant, which should not be a problem because it is fitted in post-1994 cars.
To get you started on your purchase, we have prepared a top 5 AC recharge kit review and buying guide for the best recharge kits on the market today.
- 5 Best AC Recharge Kits – Reviews
- How to Buy the Best AC Recharge Kit
5 Best AC Recharge Kits – Reviews
1. Interdynamics ACP200-6 – Best Budget AC Recharge Kit
Editor's Rating: (4.1 / 5)
- Fits: R-134A
Interdynamics ACP200-6 is budget AC recharge kit, which boasts of having the coldest air.
It also contains an acid and moisture eliminator so that your AC unit remains constantly free of any contaminants.
The kit has a reusable trigger dispenser so you never have to worry about incurring additional costs purchasing new ones. The dispenser also has a built-in low-pressure gauge and temperature dial indicator.
Many car owners are concerned about those service ports, which are notoriously hard to reach. This recharge kit has addressed that concern by including an extra-long 24-inch recharge hose, which can access such ports.
Moreover, if you’re worried about the effort required to couple the hose and ports, it comes with a new coupler, which provides easy attachment to the port through a simple push. It’s worth noting, however, that the coupler is non-returnable.
Perhaps the best part of this kit is that all that value is packaged into a very affordable price.
Although Interdynamics ACP200-6 is the best budget AC recharge kit, its pressure gauge has been noted to, sometimes, produce an inconsistent reading, which can cause the AC to be filled incorrectly. Despite these possible hiccups, the recharge kit promises to get the job done.
2. Robinair RG3 – Portable Electric AC Recovery Machine
Editor's Rating: (4.3 / 5)
- Common CFC, HFC, HCFC Refrigerants, and R-410A
Robinair RG3 is a lightweight and portable electric AC recharge kit, whose 18-pound weight makes it easy to carry around.
Perhaps the most unique feature of this kit is its ability to recharge multiple refrigerants including all common HFC, HFC, and HCFC types, and R-410A. While some of the compatible refrigerants are not in use today, it will come in handy when you own a car, which utilizes other refrigerants that are not R-134A.
The electric-powered machine has a single-cylinder, oil-less compressors, and runs on 115-volt AC power. It is capable of recovering both vapor and liquid refrigerants.
To achieve shorter cycle times, the kit is built on a high-efficiency cross-flow design, which features an optimized condenser and fan layout.
It also has a rugged protective case to accommodate its portable nature. The pressure gauges are easy to read.
Safety is a key priority with this kit. When the pressure exceeds 550 PSI, a high-pressure safety shut-off switch is activated and shuts off the machine, automatically.
Although the Robinair RG3 is a high quality portable electric recovery machine, all its excellent features and benefits come at a premium cost.
3. Robinair 34288 – Best Professional AC Recharge Kit
Editor's Rating: (4.5 / 5)
- Fits: R-134A
Robinair 34288 is the best and highest-rated professional AC recharge kit on our list. It can recover, evacuate, recycle, and recharge R-134A refrigerants.
It boasts of 95% refrigerant recovery while adhering to the SAE J-2788 accuracy standards.
The recharge machine features an automatic oil drain. An intuitive display indicates that you need to empty the graduated container to show how much oil needs replacement. Through its automatic air purge feature, it is able to expel damaging air without opening valves or monitoring gauges.
Automatic refrigerant refill allows the machine to maintain a user-selectable refrigerant amount in an internal vessel and alerts you on when to change supply tank. This feature combines well with the refrigerant management system to make the machine a superior professional recharge kit.
Undoubtedly, Robinair 34288 is the best AC recharge kit we have reviewed, and one of the market leaders, but all that value and superior features come at a steep price that may throw many off.
However, you will be getting a lot of value for your purchase, so if the price is not an obstacle, this kit is a sure pick.
Since the Robinair 34288 is a professional recharge kit, it is also very bulky weighing 232 pounds. Even though it has wheels at its base to facilitate mobility, portability may prove difficult, hence best used in a single location.
4. Redtek 301 – Extra Cooling AC Recharge Kit
Editor's Rating: (4.2 / 5)
- Fits: R-134A
Redtek 301 is offered in a set of 3, 6-ounce cans of special A/C refrigerant, which not only refills R-134A refrigerants but also works with pre-1994 automobiles that comply with the USEPA Snap Law.
Compared to R-134A, Redtek’s refrigerant promises improved performance and cooling properties because it operates at lower head pressures. It is also more energy-efficient compared to R-134A.
This refrigerant will be kind on your car’s other components because it is compatible with most lubricants, refrigeration materials, metal components, seals, gaskets, mineral and synthetic (PAG and Ester) lubricants, O-rings, and compressors.
Redtek’s refrigerant will not pollute the environment as it’s made of 100% natural organic compounds. Thus, it is also non-global warming, and non-ozone depleting.
There is also no long-term health hazards associated with this refrigerant. It is non-toxic and non-carcinogenic.
An installation hose with a gauge is also included with your purchase of this refrigerant.
Although the Redtek 301 has exceptional cooling capabilities and is environmentally safe, it contains flammable compounds, which require extra caution especially in avoiding open flames or sparks, which may ignite it.
5. Interdynamics 18575 – Best AC Recharge Bundle
Editor's Rating: (3.8 / 5)
- Fits: R-134A
Interdynamics 18575 is one of the most common AC recharge kits in the market and is viewed as a significant improvement over the Interdynamics ACP200-6 because this model is packaged as a 3-piece kit, thus offering more value.
You get an A/C Pro ultra-synthetic A/C recharger, an A/C Pro Vent and Duct Cleaner, and an A/C Pro Super Seal. The recharger is able to eliminate acid and moisture buildup from your car’s AC unit.
The A/C Pro Super Seal kit will seal all metal leaks in accumulators, condensers, evaporators, dryers, and also rubber leaks in hoses and gaskets. You won’t need to seek professional services for those notorious leaks as this kit fixes them all.
A/C Pro Vent and Duct Cleaner is another useful piece of the package, which acts as an odor neutralizer, specifically designed to help eliminate foul odors caused by mold, stale air, smoke, mildew, and other systems.
For those hard-to-reach ports, the recharger comes equipped with a 24-inch recharge hose, which is long enough for optimal reach.
Although the Interdynamics 18575 is the best A/C recharge bundle kit on our list, the setup guide provided may not be as comprehensive as one desires so pay extra attention when setting up the recharge system so that you can get it right.
How to Buy the Best AC Recharge Kit
#1. A/C Condition
The condition of your car’s AC will determine if you need a recharge kit or a more professional service.
For instance, if your car’s AC produces hot air when you switch it on and set it to “cold”, it's likely the refrigerant is out and needs replacement. In such cases, a DIY recharge kit will solve this problem and get you’re A/C functioning optimally again.
There are recharge kits that will also fix more complex issues such as leakages in the A/C system. Gaskets, hoses, and other metallic components are prone to leaks.
If you suspect such minor leaks, get a recharge kit that has seal features and properties.
#2. R12 or R134A Refrigerant
If your car was manufactured prior to 1994, it’s likely it will be using the R-12 refrigerant in its AC system. Cars manufactured after 1994 use the R-134A refrigerant to comply with federal regulation.
There are several differences between the two refrigerants. With respect to lubrication, R-12 uses mineral oil while R-134A uses PAG as lubricants.
What is worth noting is that the most common refrigerant in modern cars is R-134A. It’s likely your car’s A/C runs on this refrigerant so when buying your recharge kit for a post-1994 car, the brands covered in this review are compatible.
In case your car was made before 1994, the recharge kits in this review won’t work and you may need to convert you A/C into an R-134A one.
Freon is one of the most common R-134A refrigerants used in some AC recharge kits. The gas is preferred because it is lightweight, non-flammable, odorless, and has a low freezing point.
However, Freon is considered a member of the chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) compounds, which are known to pollute the environment and harm the ozone layer.
There are many Freon alternatives such as Norflurane (R-134A), which is the most common refrigerant in car ACs. Hence, look for an R-134A recharge kit.
#4. Hose and Gauge
A hose and gauge are useful accessories for your AC recharge kit. The hose connects the kit and service ports of your car’s AC system.
If you already own an R-134A hose, you can save money by simply buying the Freon cans. Many brands and models do come equipped with an installation hose, which also has a pressure gauge.
Something worth noting is that some AC service ports in cars are fixed in far-to-reach places so if you own such a car, get a long hose that can maximize access to such ports.
There are many brands manufacturing DIY A/C recharge kits, but only a few of those are recognized and widely accepted as market leaders.
When buying your recharge kit, look for the brands covered in our review. Some of the most reputable ones are Interdynamics A/C Pro, Robinair, and Redtek. Their products have proven reliable and capable of meeting all you’re A/C recharging needs.
Some brands have more expensive models than others do, but that’s probably because they pack more features such as recovery and recycling of AC refrigerants. Even budget models will deliver superior quality.
You are all set to proceed with your purchase of an AC recharge kit.
Many of the brands and models reviewed have proven reliable in recharging depleted R-134A AC refrigerants. More advanced models are capable of recovering, recycling, and recharging.
If your AC system has leaks that contribute to rapid refrigerant depletion, you may benefit from a recharge kit, which has metal, gasket, and hose sealing properties.
Don’t forget to get a hose and gauge to complement your kit if it doesn’t already have them.
Our top 5 best AC recharge kit reviews and buying guide cover all the important models and considerations you should make when getting an AC recharge kit.