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Can You Recharge a Portable Air Conditioner?


A portable air conditioner is a small appliance that can blow cool air in a single room or small space. You can easily place portable air conditioners on the floor, and setting them up can be done quickly in your interior space.

Some portable air conditioners include wheels that allow us to move them from one room to another. But most consumers are wondering, can you recharge a portable air conditioner?

Continue reading this article to learn if recharging a portable air conditioner is possible.

Can Portable Air Conditioners Be Recharged?

Recharging portable ACs is unfortunately not feasible. When they say they need to “recharge” a portable air conditioner, they usually mean to refill the refrigerant. Recharging a portable air conditioner is a troubleshooting procedure for a refrigerant leak or refilling.

If your portable AC unit is going down, it may indicate that you should repair a refrigerant leak or refill them. However, reloading the refrigerants will only provide a temporary remedy before the refrigerant runs out again.

It is important to note that even if you need to recharge refrigerants in a portable air conditioner, you should never do it alone. Experts advise against recharging portable AC refrigerants by yourself.

You are also not permitted to purchase a refrigerant because it is a restricted substance. Only a qualified technician can do it. They can provide advice on what your portable AC might need.

Although, the latest portable air conditioner models are now battery-powered. As a result, recharging an AC is only possible in these models whenever necessary.

Do You Have to Recharge Your Portable Air Conditioner Daily?

People have a common idea they need to recharge their portable air conditioner units with refrigerant daily, just like a car or truck does.

However, the refrigerant system in an air conditioner is significantly different. Refrigerant remains constant in your system because this is not a vehicle where you check the oil level for optimal running.

You do not need to recharge your portable air conditioner daily or routinely because it should remain constant unless there is a refrigerant leak.

Assume your portable air conditioner is running low on power or not cooling. In that case, you should send your AC to an HVAC company to refill your portable AC rather than recharge it with a refrigerant.

Why Is My Portable AC Not Getting Cold Enough?

Portable ACs may fail to properly cool off your space if they are not powerful enough or the AC units and filters are dirty.

To fix this, calculate the area of the space and then match the size of the room with a suitable AC system. Dirt clogs your portable air conditioner filter, reducing airflow. You can remedy this problem by cleaning the filter regularly. But how do you clean an AC filter?

  • Turn off the air conditioner.
  • Carefully remove the air filter and ensure that no dirt falls off.
  • Remove the filter. Dust it off if it’s merely dusty. You can also use clean water to rinse it.
  • Replace the air filter as well as the grille.
  • Reinstall the air filter grille into the AC unit once everything is dry.

Do Portable Air Conditioners Need Refrigerant?

Portable air conditioners need refrigerant since it is essential for their cooling system.

The primary function of a refrigerant is to absorb and transport heat from the inside air to the outside air. It will allow it to chill the space around it. Without it, your portable air conditioner’s cooling capacities would be severely limited, making it impossible to feel at ease from the scorching heat.

How Does Refrigerant Work?

The refrigerant is circulated in an air conditioner compressor by an evaporator coil. The refrigerant undergoes a chemical state to capture and dispose of hot air. It travels through the coils, beginning as a gas absorbing indoor heat and transforming into a highly pressurized cold liquid. The liquid enters the fan, which blasts air that cools when it comes into contact with the coils, resulting in a cooler home and space.

The following is an overview of how refrigerants function:

  • First, it passes through the coil of a portable air conditioner.
  • It begins as a gas that absorbs the heat of the interiors.
  • Then it changes to a highly pressured cold liquid.
  • This liquid flows to the fan.
  • The fan blows air through an air conditioner’s coils.
  • The cooled air cools the atmosphere.

The refrigerants in your portable air conditioner are in a closed system. As a result, the refrigerant is a never-ending cycle of gas to liquid and liquid to gas. This cycle continues indefinitely. As a result, there should be no leaks.

Assume you discover that your portable air conditioner is out of refrigerant or is not working. If it is running low or finds leaks somewhere in the refrigerant cycle, you should not refill your portable air conditioner with new refrigerant.

If your portable air conditioner has a leaking refrigerant, it will continue to circulate refrigerant until the repair is made to the portable air conditioner. If you store additional refrigerant in an air conditioner without repairing the refrigerant leak, your hard-earned funds will go to waste. Water will flow out if the pool lining is punctured. You can add extra water to fix it, but this does not solve the problem.

What Kind of Refrigerant Is Used in Portable Air Conditioners?

People have used freon as a refrigerant for many years. It is composed of CFCs and HCFCs (chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons).

One kind of refrigerant in a portable AC unit is ChloroFluoroCarbons or CFCs. It is a type of greenhouse gas and is known to be harmful to the environment, so it is restricted to use as a refrigerant.

The next refrigerant is HydroFluoroCarbons or HFCs. It has a lower environmental impact and no chlorine in HFC. Compared to traditional refrigerants, HFC has an enormous effect on global warming.

However, these substances are harmful to the environment and play a crucial role in the depletion of the ozone layer. They are no longer manufactured or available on the market.

It is not to say you can’t replace your poorly functioning refrigerant system. Modern portable ACs use modern refrigerants that are safer for the environment but not safe for homeowners to handle.

However, as a homeowner, you should never have to refill your refrigerant. Portable AC units have a volume that should never reduce. If it does, there is more to examine than just the refrigerant.

Is It Possible to Lose Refrigerant Without a Leak?

The system of your portable air conditioner might have a slow leak depending on conditions and age. The most common cause of AC leaks is likely erosion of the metal caused by formic acid or formaldehyde corrosion over time. Small holes appear when the acid eats away at the metal, and the unit eventually releases freon.

How Long Does Freon Last in Portable AC?

Freon typically only lasts 5 to 10 years in a portable air conditioner, whereas in others, it can last up to 10 years or more. When your portable air cooler isn’t cooling anymore, but no leak is detected, the Freon may need to be refilled.

How Do I Know if My Portable Air Conditioner Needs Freon?

Your portable AC will require some maintenance for this to function, like any other type of window or split air conditioning unit. If your portable air conditioner develops a leak, it must be repaired by a professional technician before you can use it again.

Here are signs that your portable AC has a leak and needs freon:

  • The portable AC is blowing warm air.
  • The evaporator coil is frozen up.
  • The portable air conditioner is leaking water.

How To Manually Recharge a Portable AC

Repairing a leak on portable ACs must be done by a licensed technician. But these are the procedures to follow if your technician advised you to recharge your portable air conditioning unit:

  • Before recharging, prepare all the necessary equipment, such as gloves, safety goggles, refrigerant, a freon kit, and a screwdriver.
  • Wear all your safety equipment, which is crucial as freon may be quite poisonous and can also damage raw skin due to its cryogenic nature.
  • Buy the correct amount of refrigerant based on your portable AC’s user manual. Note that specs will vary depending on the model.
  • Disconnect your air conditioner, allow it to cool entirely, and open the unit using your screwdriver.
  • If you suspect there is a leakage, use a leak detector. You can also use soap and nitrogen in this process.
  • Once you examine that there are no leaks, connect the air conditioner’s compressor to the valves, and check the user manual since you need to follow specific instructions to locate your portable AC compressor.
  • After that, use the Freon kit to connect the valves to it, and carefully follow the directions on the package.
  • You can recharge your air conditioning system once you have ensured that all connections are properly secured so no gas leaves the unit.
  • It’s essential not to overcharge it, and review the manual to learn how long recharging your portable AC will usually take.

Final Thoughts

Recharging your portable air conditioner is essential to guarantee that it works properly and efficiently. It is important to remember that you should never refill the air conditioner yourself because it could cause severe damage. Unless advised, experts should handle this task since they have the necessary equipment and knowledge.

Despite your portable air conditioning demands, it’s important to schedule maintenance regularly to ensure you are cooling off your interior space and feel at ease knowing your portable AC is functioning perfectly.

JP Reyes

JP has been in the aircon industry for almost as long as he has been alive. As a child JP would help his tatay fix aircon units at their junk shop in Cavite. After graduating UP in the early 2000's, JP then started his own Aircon servicing business and within 5 years had 10 shops in 8 different cities. Fast forward to today and JP brings all his experience and expertise online to give readers trustworthy advice and reviews about Air-conditioning buying, servicing, cleaning and repair in the Philippines.

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