Recharging RV Air Conditioners: A How To Guide

If you use a recreational vehicle (RV), you are fully familiar with the soaring temperatures that you may have to encounter. You know that you need an air conditioning unit.

And if you are an RV user, knowing basic things like how to charge an RV air conditioner (AC) will come in handy. While it is not the most difficult thing to do, it is one that requires you to be careful just to ensure you do not spoil the device.

Most RV ACs run on refrigerants that allow cool air to pass through them and increase efficiency. So gradually, the amount of cool air from the device will decrease as the levels of the coolants decrease.

However, if you do an RV air conditioner recharge by adding more refrigerants, then you can start using your AC unit again.

Coleman 48004866 RV Air Conditioner

How to Recharge an RV Air Conditioner

Is it scorching hot and your RV air conditioning unit is down? What do you normally do? Either call the maintenance guy. And when that is not possible, you need to figure it out yourself. Now, it is fairly easy to recharge an RV air conditioner. You can simply follow the following steps.

1. Select the Correct Refrigerant

It’s imperative that you use the refrigerant best compatible with your unit for longer life and better functionality. Check the label or manual to find out which is the best one for you. If you don’t have either at hand, call the customer service provider of the brand and find out. Once you’ve found out the best refrigerant, use only that for your unit.

2. Stop the Power Supply

Next, you must completely stop the power supply. Find the breaker panel and keep the user manual in hand. Follow the instructions on the manual and switch off any breaker allowing power to your air conditioning unit. Check and double-check all sources to ensure there is no power entering the unit. Filling up your unit with refrigerant while the power supply is on can cause you and the unit harm.

3. Remove the Lid of the RV AC Unit

Now, it is time for business. Recharging RV air conditioners is an incredibly manual job that requires technical knowledge and the right tools. You need a socket and it is mandatory to inspect all sides of the unit to see where the lid is. It’s usually the plastic lid on the underside of the RV AC unit. However, it can be on the sides, or the front as well.

Also, when charging the RV air conditioner, use the instruction manual to find the lid so that you don’t knock off unnecessary walls of the unit. Use the socket to detach all the shroud screws and be careful not to get too close to the coils in the unit, as it can damage them. Also, be on the lookout for bees, hives, or any other insects that might have made a home in your AC unit.

4. Check the Refrigerant Level

For the RV air conditioner charge, this is an important step. Before you can add your refrigerant, install your refrigerant gauge. Though it is easy to check the refrigerant levels in some AC units, others it’s quite tough considering the location and way it’s been installed.

So, we need something concrete like a line tap. A line tap is a tool that makes a hole in your refrigerant line and allows you to put a gauge into it. However, you must be careful as it can damage your AC unit. If you don’t have prior knowledge, it might be advisable to seek professional help at this point.

5. Fill it up with the Refrigerant

Once you have checked the refrigerant levels, you can start adding the refrigerant. You must unscrew the port with a wrench and add the refrigerant. Ensure it is done properly and there are no unnecessary spills. After you have added the liquid carefully, you must check if your hard work paid off.

6. Check the unit after adding the Refrigerant

Now, your objective is to check the RV AC unit if it’s working properly after the refrigerant is added. For that, you must restore your power supply and monitor the results. There must be a difference of 20oF between the temperature of the RV and AC unit. If everything is working well, then you have succeeded in recharging your unit.

Charging an RV air conditioner is indeed a tough task. However, it might come in handy if you use an RV regularly and cannot find professional help for whatever reason.

Also, you must ensure you always have the RV air conditioner recharge kit while traveling. If you own the RV and you might need to redo this procedure, then you can save all the AC manuals, tools, and other things you used to recharge in the RV AC recharge kit.

Recharging RV Rooftop Air Conditioners

Now, if you’re wondering how to recharge RV roof air conditioners, they are a bit trickier than regular RV AC units. As it is a closed unit with no refill points, you might need professional help to determine what to do. For RV rooftop AC recharge, this is what a professional needs to check.

1. Do a visual examination to determine the probable cause of low cooling.

2. Use a millimeter to test the unit and take the temperature reading.

3. Check the thermostat and control board to check compatibility for the new roof RV AC unit.

You cannot recharge RV AC for your roof units. It needs to be replaced using professional help. If you have read about self-installed valves on the internet that pierce a hole in the refrigerant line and give access to a filler point – we’re here to hell you – it is very dangerous and do not try it. It can completely damage your unit if you aren’t careful. So, to sum it up, recharging RV rooftop air conditioners is a tricky business.

Recharging Dometic RV Air Conditioners

Now, if you’re wondering how to recharge a dometic RV air conditioner, the process is like any recharge of RV AC.

  1. Select the correct refrigerant.
  2. Switch off the power supply and check thoroughly.
  3. Remove the casing or lid of the RV AC unit.
  4. Check the refrigerant levels by installing a refrigerant gauge and line tap.
  5. If you’re satisfied with the level, start adding the refrigerant carefully into the unit.
  6. Dometic units often have beehives and other infestations that must be dealt with.
  7. Be careful not to harm any coils while adding the refrigerant.
  8. Start the power supply and monitor the temperature.

For dometic RV air conditioner recharge, you can follow the above steps and check your company’s user manual thoroughly. If you’re still unsure, you can always call the company’s customer care provider for further assistance.

Recharging Coleman RV Air Conditioners

Now, just like we read in rooftop RV ACs, Coleman is also a closed rooftop system. So, recharging Coleman RV air conditioners is tough and the logical thing to do is to replace them altogether. The Freon inside these units is made to last for a lifetime. However, if there’s been a leak, over usage, or many years have passed, then you can either call a technician or use the internet method.

As described on the internet, access valves, an RV AC recharge kit, and the right license to buy Freon is what you need to get started. Though the steps to recharge a closed RV AC unit will be explained later, you might want to check with an expert as well.

Recharging Duo Therm RV Air Conditioners

Just Coleman, Duo Therm RV air conditioners are a closed system and you cannot find any refill points. So, for most Duo Therm RV air conditioner recharge, you can either:

  1. Call a technician
  2. Or do the recharge yourself

While the first one is expensive and could drill a potential hole in your pocket – it is most advisable because the second is a dangerous process. You definitely need someone who has the right information, knack, and experience in charging a closed AC system.

You need to find the perfect spot on your refrigerant line to install access valves with the help of an RV AC recharge kit and license for buying Freon.

Though this method is dangerous, most people who do not want to spend on a high technician bill use this. It’s advisable to be careful as the process of adding Freon isn’t that easy. The method is the same as all closed systems.

Can You Add Freon to an RV Air Conditioner?

If you’re wondering, can you add Freon to an RV air conditioner, then yes you can. As mentioned before, Freon is a refrigerant used predominantly for closed RV AC units. Though Freon is owned by the company DuPont, it is incorrectly used universally. As most closed systems do not have a clear accessible port, with some help you can recharge your RV AC system.

However, the technique of how to add Freon to RV air conditioners is different from the open RV AC units.

Step 1: Release the RV AC unit’s outer shroud, which is held by several fasteners. For that, you use a wrench or screwdriver and use the instructions on the manual to avoid causing damage. Carefully lift the shroud.

Step 2: Check the unit and look for the refrigerant port. It is usually near the suction side, where both copper tubes are located. If the refrigerant port is available, the bigger of the two copper tubes have it.

Step 3: Check the manufacturer’s information to see the list of appropriate refrigerants that can be used.

Step 4: Check the temperature of the RV using a thermometer and consult the chart for optimum refrigerant pressures with respect to different temperatures.

Step 5: Find the right place in the refrigerant port to attach the manifold gauge hose. The female hose end should be attached to the male threads of the ports.

Step 6: Switch off the power supply, and double-check to ensure if there are any errors.

Step 7: Check the manifold gauge hose, which has been recently attached to the suction side. Read the pressure of the refrigerant inside the AC unit and consult the chart of ambient temperatures with optimum refrigerant pressures. If the pressure of the refrigerant is less than the optimum temperature measured in the RV, then the system needs to be recharged.

Step 8: You must add Freon through the valves in the gauge using a central hose. First, purge the gauges by opening and closing the valve. Open the charge valve and allow Freon to enter. After a substantial amount has been added, check the pressure of the refrigerant. Keep adding Freon as long as the optimum temperature of the RV is the same as the pressure of the refrigerant.

Even though it is difficult to put Freon in an RV rooftop air conditioner, there are ways to do that.

RV Air Conditioner Maintenance Tips

Now, you must remember that the maintenance of the RV AC unit is like any other air conditioning unit. You just must ensure that it is well-aired and cleaned properly. There are different ways to do that.

1. Clean the Filter

With time and constant use, the filter inside the AC unit becomes very dirty. It needs to be well-aired and vacuumed to remove excess dirt. You must clean your filter regularly.

2. Clean the Upper Compartment

You must regularly and thoroughly clean the upper compartment of your RV AC unit. As it’s constantly exposed to all kinds of germs, insects, and dust. The motor, fan, coil, and condenser, etc., need to be checked thoroughly and cleaned well.

3. Check the Thermostat Settings

To avoid overuse of your RV AC unit, you can adjust the thermostat settings regularly. When it’s not that hot, you can simply change the settings to just fan. If you adjust the RV AC to a moderate setting, it can elongate the life of our machine and save extra cost on its maintenance.

4. Check the Condenser

Regularly open and check your condenser to check if it’s blocked. This will help you avoid a blocked condenser, which creates further problems. It happens very frequently that leaves, insects, or debris block the condenser. However, if you’re aware you can take the measure to avoid it.

5. Oiling the Fan

To create good lubrication, the fans in the AC unit must be regularly oiled. This increases the life of the unit.

6. Open the Roof Vent

If you do that, you will allow outside air to enter and let the moist inside evaporate. This alone can create a positive impact on the AC units.

Common issues with RV air conditioners

Now, that we have discussed some tips on how to maintain an RV SC unit, let’s talk about some of the issues that can develop:

  1. The RV AC unit runs out of coolant and needs to be recharged.
  2. Clogged filters – if you don’t clean the filters for longer intervals, the unit may stop working.
  3. Leakage.
  4. The RV AC unit has overloaded and stopped working as a result.
  5. The fan in the RV AC unit stops working.
  6. As the condenser is used despite being blocked, it leads to many complications.

These are only a few basic issues. You can either consult a technician to get them fixed or if you like to be a self-sufficient traveler – learn to do them yourself. Be sure to understand the deice and its processes before you try your hand at it.

As discussed, recharging an RV air conditioning unit for the first time isn’t that easy. Even if it’s a portable open system. Though YouTube videos and other online sources offer ample literature and techniques, it can still end badly.

So, you must always be extra vigilant and careful. Having an experienced person beside you helps. Also, for RV air conditioner Freon recharges, as it’s a close system and hence, tougher, you must avoid it unless, you’re sure.

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