Do Portable AC Units Need To Be Recharged

Do Portable AC Units Need To Be Recharged?

We all need to cool down in hot weather, especially if you are off-grid in the middle of nowhere. A portable aircon unit is just the thing to help with the hot weather. You switch the unit on, and it blows hot air or does not even come on. The only thing left is to wonder: “Do portable AC units need to be recharged?”

Manufacturers of portable AC units do not suggest you recharge an AC unit with refrigerant. Skilled technicians can recharge them at a cost, but will often invalidate warranty. You must recharge the power if the AC unit runs out aways from mains supply. You can try, solar, car batteries and battery packs.

Experts in the cooling and heating industry say that recharging a portable AC unit with refrigerant is a bad idea, but some skilled technicians do it with great success as well. This post will look at this question from two angles: the refrigerant and the power source. Read on for more.

Do Portable AC Units Need To Be Recharged

Do Portable AC Units Need Recharging?

To answer this question correctly and fully, we need to understand that people can interpret the question in two ways, one option is to speak about recharging the refrigerant, and the other option is to recharge the power of the unit when it is used in an off-grid space, and it runs out of power. The short answer to both parts is yes, and we will expand on the answers below.

Do Portable AC Units Need Recharging With Refrigerant?

They do not, but they can be recharged though. The manufacturers of portable AC units do not want people to recharge the units with a refrigerant, which is why the units do not have valves. However, professionals will recharge the portable AC units with suitable refrigerant after locating and fixing the leak from which the original refrigerant was discharged.

Whether it is cost-effective to do is up to you to decide. The best solution is to get a skilled technician and get a quotation. It is best to do it this way because it is not always the refrigerant that is the culprit. There will be a troubleshoot and fix section later in this post with a few helpful hints straight from the mouth of one of these skilled technicians.

Do Portable AC Units Need Recharging When It’s Out Of Power?

Portable AC units work with various power options and must be recharged when they run out of power. We are fortunate to live in a modern time where we can take appliances like portable AC units with us wherever we travel.

We all know those travelers who end up not bringing chargers for appliances and electronics, and then they borrow from everyone else. You can sometimes recharge the portable AC unit using some interesting methods in the wilderness. We will look at the different ways to recharge the units under their own headings later in this post.

How To Recharge A Portable AC Unit With Refrigerant

We all have skilled family or friends in various sectors, and in this case, there is one of those people to assist with this portion of the post. Of course, if you are not skilled in fixing AC units, do not touch them, or you may hurt or damage the AC unit. Here is a step-by-step guide to recharging a portable AC unit with refrigerant:


The first step is to find out what the problem is with the portable AC unit; for that, you can use the following information:

Possible problemPossible Solution
The AC unit is not cooling and smells like gas.Locate the leak and refill the refrigerant.
The AC unit is cooling but not well.Clean and service the unit.
The AC unit does not switch on.Check all the connections, as you Might need to recharge the power or you must replace the battery.
Hot air is blowing back into the room.Check the air take-out hose that removes the hot air in the back for blockage and clean it. Make sure the hose faces away from the unit.
The unit turns on, but the compressor won’t kick in.Put your ear close to the unit and wait for the compressor to start up; if it doesn’t, then you might as well scrap the unit.

Now that you have established the possible problem, it is time to resolve the issue, but first, make sure that the warranty on the unit is no longer valid. If you still have a warranty, it is best to send the unit in for repair. Once you tamper with the unit, you will lose your warranty.

Step 2

The next step is to make sure that you have the following tools  and resources:

  • Screwdrivers and bit sets for all the fasteners to get the covers loose. You must have bitsets because some manufacturers use funny fasteners to make it near impossible to work on their products.
  • You will need a valve fitting with a push-in connector to refill the refrigerant. The fitting makes and seals the hole in the aircon pipe so you can recharge the unit.
  • You need the correct type of refrigerant; take a photo of the compressor’s information to ensure the refrigerant and pressure rating.
  • Pressure gauges to ensure that the correct amount of refrigerant is used.
  • You will need to wear personal protective equipment and material safety data sheets for the refrigerant to ensure you understand all the dangers of working with chemicals and harmful substances.

Remember that the refrigerant can be flammable, so a complete risk analysis needs to be done. Do not use substances in confined areas as it could cause a person to become unconscious. Any work you are unfamiliar with can be dangerous to perform, so it may be a good idea to get a  qualified technician to help with it.

Step 3

During this step, you must ensure that the AC unit is not on; otherwise, there is a possibility that you or others around you can get an electrical shock. Locate a suitable place next to the compressor to install the recharge valve; you must remove the fasteners on the valve.

The valve will now have two pieces. Place the sharp end in the back of the front piece onto the front part of the pipe. The back section of the valve needs to be secured back into position on the back section of the pipe.

Suppose there is no blowing sound from the pipe while you secure the fasteners, then it means that the AC unit was indeed requiring a recharge. If a blowing sound comes from the pipe while you are doing this, then the diagnosis might have been wrong, and you need to keep looking as the problem may lie somewhere else.

Step 4

It is time to start charging the unit with refrigerant using the pressure gauges and the refrigerant. Ensure that there are no leakages on any connections. Once the refrigerant is filled at the correct pressure, you can disconnect the system, and the valve can be closed with its cap. You can switch the AC unit on to get the refrigerant to work.

Experts do not suggest that you do any work you are not trained to do, but it is great to see how a professional will tackle this task. The next section will cover recharging options when the AC unit runs out of power.

Do Portable AC Units Need To Be Recharged

How To Recharge A Portable AC Unit That Ran Out Of Power

Portable Ac units have multiple ways in which you will be able to recharge them if they run out of power. Here are the most common ways to get power back to the unit with a recharge.

Recharge The Portable AC Unit With A 12 Volt Inverter

One of the easiest ways to recharge the portable AC unit is to connect the USB charging cable of the AC unit to the USB receptacle of a 12-volt inverter. The inverter uses the power of a 12-volt battery to supply the AC with the power it needs to recharge. Make sure the AC is off and switch the inverter on.

Of course, the inverter also needs to be connected to a battery that has its own source of recharging capacity. Before attempting to recharge the AC unit, you must ensure that the inverter is rated for your charging needs. If it is not, you can end up overloading.

The inverter will have its capability ratings displayed on the unit. When packing the AC unit to go on a trip, it is always a good idea to plan properly and think about how you will charge the unit if it should run out of power; that includes packing all the charging cables.

Recharge The Portable AC Unit With A Generator

As with the inverter option, you must ensure that the generator is strong enough to charge the AC unit. Connect the correct charging cable into the generator and the AC unit and ensure that all the switches are in the off position.

Start the generator and switch on the generator side to start the recharging process on the AC unit. Remember to always check the gas on the generator before using it.

Recharge The Portable AC Unit With A Laptop

Another way of recharging the portable AC unit is to use a laptop. A laptop has a battery that can give some life to your AC unit in a case where you have no other choice. It is an option that works best if another energy source is also recharging the laptop; that way, the laptop won’t run out of power while charging your AC unit.

To successfully recharge your AC using a laptop requires the charging cable with the USB receptacle. Plug the charging cable into the AC unit, making sure that it is switched off, plug the USB into the laptop, and voila, you have power.

Recharge The Portable AC Unit With A Cigarette Lighter Cable

One of the most overlooked ways to recharge a portable AC unit is by using the cable that fits into the cigarette lighter prong of your automobile. You must locate the correct charging cable to use the cigarette lighter prong.

Plug the AC unit in using the cable, but before inserting the cigarette, and lighter prong, make sure that the AC unit is switched off. Plug the system in and switch on the ignition. The AC unit should be recharging now.

Recharge the Portable AC Unit Using Solar Power

Solar power is on everyone’s lips, and it makes sense to have a backup plan to recharge your AC unit. Some travelers have a solar system that is already hooked up and ready to go; then, you plug in the charging cable, and you are ready to go.

The other option is to have a foldup solar panel connected to a battery and a charge regulator. If you hook up a suitable inverter, you are ready to go. If you have this equipment, you will always be able to recharge your portable AC unit using the energy from the sun.

Who would have guessed there can be many ways to recharge a portable AC unit? It is a good thing because the Air conditioner will be a lifesaver in hot weather.

We have other cooling options for your outside space on the site here and you can check them out with a search or choose from the list below.


We have seen that even though manufacturers of portable AC units do not want you to recharge the refrigerant of the AC units, it is possible. A family friend was kind enough to guide us through a guide on how to. You might need to do some troubleshooting to ensure you find the reason your AC is running out of power but regardless of the problem, there is a way to fix it.

The AC units can also be charged if it runs out of power while you visit a remote location. You can recharge the power on the portable AC unit, including an inverter, a generator, a laptop, the cigarette lighter prong inside an automobile, and even solar power. Have fun recharging your portable AC unit.


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