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Last Updated on October 14, 2021 by Jessica Lauren Vine
You’re asking, “Can RV air conditioners be recharged?” most likely because you’re in your RV roasting from lack of AC.
Camping in an RV can be an extremely relaxing and enjoyable experience. There are few things more satisfying than sitting around a campfire, surrounded only by great friends and the great outdoors. In fact, 64% of RV owners strongly believe having an RV allows them to spend more quality time with their families.
RV camping and living can also be flat-out miserable when things don’t go according to plan. One of the things that can lead to a very negative RV experience is when your air conditioner isn’t working correctly.
There are few things more miserable than when it is 80 plus degrees outside, the sun is beating down, and you go inside to cool down only to find out that your AC isn’t working. There are several reasons why your RV air conditioner may be malfunctioning. One of the main reasons for AC problems is that it may have a low charge. That begs the question, “Can RV air conditioners be recharged?” We will discuss that question next and much, much more about RV air conditioners.
Can RV Air Conditioners Be Recharged? – The Answer Is Yes
If the air conditioner in your RV needs a recharge, it can most definitely be recharged. It isn’t always that simple, though. There could be any number of reasons why your air conditioner isn’t working correctly. A low charge is only one of these many reasons. Before jumping to conclusions, you may want to contact an RV service technician and allow them to diagnose the problem.
If you are confident that you are low on freon, your RV air conditioner can be recharged. If you are going to attempt to charge your air conditioner yourself, here are the steps to follow.
- Turn the power off to the air conditioner. Power can be turned off by accessing the panel box of your RV and flipping off the breaker that controls the air conditioner.
- Determine what kind of refrigerant you need to charge your system. Freon is not a one size fits all kind of thing. If you put the wrong type of freon into your system, you risk ruining it, and your air conditioner will need to be replaced. You can find out the exact freon required by either contacting your RV maker or, sometimes, the type will be shown on the side of the air conditioner.
- Remove the lid of the AC system. There will be a protective cover over the top of your air conditioner to protect it from animals and tree branches. Once this is removed, the recharge can begin.
- Use a refrigerant gauge to measure the amount of freon being added. For this step, it would be wise to take a quick online how-to course to find out how to read the gauges properly and how much freon your specific unit requires.
- Slowly add refrigerant to the air conditioning unit. This is the final and most challenging step throughout the process. Be careful not to add refrigerant too quickly, as it could seriously damage your compressor. Also, be careful not to overcharge your AC as this will also cause problems.
What Does It Mean When My RV Air Conditioner has a Low Charge?
Now that you know how to recharge your air conditioner, let’s break down some of these terms to understand what we’re talking about. When speaking in air conditioner terms, “charge” refers to the amount of refrigerant in your AC system.
Refrigerant is the liquid that gets circulated through a series of copper or aluminum coils, through a condenser, and then an evaporator. Throughout this process, the liquid refrigerant is supercharged and cools the air that is flowing over the coils. This air, which is now cold, gets blown through vents and into the RV.
If your air conditioner is low on the liquid refrigerant that is flowing through the coils, the coils will not be cold enough to cool the air that is simultaneously flowing over the coils. As a result, the air blowing out of your vents will feel warm instead of cold. By adding more refrigerant or recharging your air conditioner, there will be sufficient liquid in your system to cool the air flowing over the AC coils.
Is My RV Air Conditioner Broken?
RV air conditioners can be quite finicky and fragile at times. Depending on the type of RV that you own, your air conditioner may be very high quality or very cheap quality. So if you find yourself wondering if your RV air conditioner is broken, the only way to know for sure is to have a qualified RV service technician check it out.
If your AC is on and running, but is not cooling your camper, then there could be a simple explanation. An AC that is low on refrigerant will often work but will blow limited or lukewarm air. In order for an RV air conditioner to be “broken,” it has to be beyond the point of fixing or is too expensive to fix. The concept is similar to a totaled vehicle. If your money would be better spent installing a new air conditioner rather than fixing an old one, your air conditioner is broken.
Why Isn’t My RV Air Conditioner Working?
There could be several reasons why your RV air conditioner isn’t working. Here are some common issues to look for with your air conditioner.
Your Thermostat May Be Broken
The first and easiest thing to check if your AC isn’t working is the thermostat. It could be possible that a wire in the thermostat has become disconnected or frayed, or that your thermostat has simply given up the ghost.
Thermostats aren’t meant to last forever and most have a lifespan of 10 years or less. This would be a relatively cheap and easy fix for your air conditioner.
The Air Conditioner Fan May Be Compromised
The way an air conditioner works is that air is cooled inside the coils, condenser, and evaporator and is then blown out the vents of your RV by a fan. If this fan isn’t working, air will get cooled while flowing over the air conditioner’s coils, but the fan will not be blowing the air out.
As a result, this steady flow of cold air mixing with the chilled liquid in the coils will evaporate and freeze, forming ice on the evaporator coils. To get your AC working again, you need to have the fan repaired or replaced by a service tech.
Low Freon Levels
As mentioned before, low freon or refrigerant levels will also result in your AC not working. Your AC will have little airflow, and the evaporator coils will freeze over as with a compromised blower fan. You must get your AC recharged by adding refrigerant to prevent this problem from reoccurring.
A Dirty Compressor
Sometimes, air conditioning problems can be the result of a dirty or faulty compressor. This is often the result of an overused or burnt-out compressor.
If you notice that your air conditioner is extra noisy while in operation or a build-up of dirt on the evaporator coils, a dirty compressor is likely a culprit. If the condenser is completely burned out, then you will probably have to replace the entire AC unit.
From time to time, your RV may experience a power surge if the campgrounds system gets overloaded. When this happens, it’s typical for much of the electricity in your RV to kick off. If this happens and your AC turns off, simply check the breaker, reset your thermostat, and the problem should solve itself.
A Burned-Out Capacitor
A capacitor is a physically small but essential part of the air conditioning system. It stores electricity and provides a kickstart of power any time the AC or the fan turns on. There will be several telltale signs if your capacitor is going bad.
- The AC will make a humming noise when it tries to start up
- The AC will trip a breaker or blow a fuse after running for a few minutes
- The fan will not push air through the vents
- The fan blows hot or warm air due to the compressor not activating
If you let your RV sit idle for close to a year without using the air conditioner, your capacitor is more likely to burn out.
How Can I Make My RV Air Conditioner Work Better?
Like most things in life, an RV air conditioner will work better and more efficiently if taken care of. There are several easy ways to extend the life of your air conditioner and increase its efficiency.
The first way to boost the health of your RV air conditioner is by scheduling a maintenance checkup with a service technician. This should be done every three months, depending on how often you use your air conditioner. It is recommended that an RV technician do the checkup, but any air conditioning service tech should have the tools and knowledge to get the job done.
Another way to increase the lifespan and efficiency of your RV air conditioner is by leaving the thermostat alone. Constantly turning the temperature up and down will add unnecessary wear and tear to the air conditioning system and cause serious damage. Pick a temperature, and stick with it.
If you want to add the maximum amount of life and efficiency to your air conditioning unit, take time to clean it regularly. This task doesn’t require any special skills or tools, just a willingness to take a little time and get a little dirty.
By removing the protective cover from the top of the air conditioner, you can get to the evaporator coils and clean them. On the inside of the RV, your air conditioner will have filters that keep dirt from getting into the unit. Removing these filters and running water over them then wiping them clean and dry will boost the efficiency of your AC.
A final tip to improving the efficiency of your air conditioner is by utilizing a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier will take additional humidity out of the inside of your RV and will put less stress on the AC itself.
With less humidity, your air conditioner can focus on simply cooling down the internal temperature of the RV. With less humidity, your RV will cool down quicker, meaning your AC will run less and last longer.
Can RV Air Conditioners Run Simultaneously?
The ability for multiple air conditioners to run simultaneously in the same RV is entirely dependent upon the RV itself. In most RVs equipped with multiple air conditioners, the power grid is designed to handle the stress of multiple units running simultaneously. This is achieved by running separate power lines to each unit to avoid overloading one line and potentially trip a breaker.
There are two common types of RVs. Those that come equipped with a 30-amp hookup and those that have a 50-amp hookup.
If your RV has a 50-amp power hookup, it can handle more than one air conditioner at a time.
If your RV has a 30-amp hookup, it will only be able to take one air conditioner at a time. Because of this, most 30-amp RVs will come equipped with only one air conditioner.
RV Air Conditioners Help – Wrapping It Up
There you have it, most everything you need to know about your RVs air conditioning unit or units. Hopefully, some of the questions you had have been answered, and you know a little more about the ins and outs of your RVs cooling system and have the answer to, “Can RV air conditioners be recharged?”
Camping is meant to be a fun getaway with friends and family or even a little downtime by yourself. By taking care of your RVs air conditioner and by recharging the system when necessary, you will be able to get the maximum amount of joy out of your RV experience.
Want to learn even more about RVing and whether it’s right for you? Check out my post about whether getting an RV is worth it or not.