Air conditioners are one of the nicest commodities that you can add to any home. They provide cooling and comfort during the hot summer months that you can’t attain any other way. An air conditioner condenser is the outside portion of the AC system and is composed of many different components that all play a valuable role. Unfortunately, these parts eventually give out and go wrong, and you must know where to find replacements when that happens.
One of the most critical parts of an AC is the air condenser capacitor. Your air conditioner can’t operate without it, and it will inevitably give out. In this article, we’re going to take a look at where to buy an air condenser capacitor if yours gets damaged. I’ll also go into a little more detail about what a capacitor is and how it operates. Let’s dive right in!
Where to buy an air condenser capacitor?
Air condenser capacitors are readily available at most hardware and home improvement stores, as well as those that specialize in heating and cooling. It’s important to know what kind of capacitor you need before attempting to purchase your replacement. The best way to do this is by removing your old capacitor and getting one that’s the same. Here is a more comprehensive list of stores that sell capacitors.
Hardware and home improvement stores.
- Lowes Home Improvement
- The Home Depot
- Wal Mart Supercenter
- Ace Hardware,
- Do It Best Hardware, and most other hardware stores might have them based on the size of the store and the number of supplies they have in stock. Most hardware stores carry basic electrical, heating, cooling, and plumbing supplies, but capacitors might be too specific for certain stores.
If you don’t have any luck purchasing from one of these stores, you might be better at a heating and cooling distributor. Most regions will have local distributors, but there are a few nationwide chains.
Heating and Cooling distributors
- Robertson Heating Supply: Robertson has locations throughout the state of Ohio and the surrounding states. Eastern Pennsylvania, southern Michigan, northern West Virginia, and Fort Wayne, Indiana all have Robertson stores and are guaranteed to have air condenser capacitors of every shape and size.
- Williams Heating and Air Conditioning: Williams is a national chain that supplies various heating and cooling parts, including capacitors. They have locations all along the East Coast and Midwest, stretching as far west as Texas.
- Trane, Rheem, and any other heating and cooling brands: Each of these brands deals exclusively with heating and cooling parts and plumbing and some electrical. These are all bound to have capacitors in stock.
How do I find a heating and cooling supplier near me?
The amount of heating and cooling suppliers in the nation is seemingly endless, and there isn’t enough time to cover every single one of them. The best way to find a heating and cooling supplier near you is to conduct a simple google search and see what pops up. By completing a google search and checking online reviews, you’ll soon be able to tell who the suitable suppliers are and who to avoid.
When selecting the right store to buy from, please note where they import their parts from and where they’re made. American and Canadian products are the best for air conditioners and furnaces, and it’s a good idea to find a supplier that deals with these.
Another great way to find a capacitor for your needs is to contact a local heating and cooling contractor. Not only will they have the parts that you need, but they’ll also perform the repair work for you. Capacitors aren’t necessarily challenging to replace, but there’s a risk any time you’re working with electrical components. Capacitors can retain electrical power even after the AC is no longer active. Be cautious if you decide to work with these.
What is an air condenser capacitor?
An air condenser capacitor is a small but mighty device that helps activate your air conditioner. The AC’s initial startup calls for more electricity than the wire running to it can provide. The capacitor stores up energy and gives your AC a much-needed boost that allows it to start up. Without the capacitor or with a faulty capacitor, your air conditioner cannot start, and you’ll need to replace it before proceeding.
The capacitor is a small cylinder usually consisting of aluminum, liquid electrolytes, anode and cathode aluminum foils, and natural oxide film. All of these components come together to form the perfect method of storing and using energy. In most cases, there is a plastic sleeve on the outside of the capacitor that the aluminum container slides into.
Are there different types of condenser capacitors?
One of the things that make capacitors challenging to replace is that there are several different types. It’s vital that you select the right one for your air conditioner, or you might cause further damage to your condenser. Here are the four main types of air condenser capacitors.
An electrolytic capacitor has polarity and leads labeled with + or – marks, much like the marks on a battery. It’s typically used to smoothen the DC voltage after rectification by the diodes, which aid in reducing the ripples in the DC supply. The smaller the wave, the larger the capacitance of the capacitor on your AC. This type of capacitor often gets used in a simple linear power supply with a step-down transformer.
Ceramic capacitors are used as bypass capacitors to bypass the high-frequency content of a circuit. You can place them parallel to the DC power intake of integrated circuits. Putting the ceramic capacitor here will help bypass high frequencies noise in the circuit that can impair the circuit’s sensitivity.
Surface mount capacitors are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s industry because of their efficiency and size. This is especially true for multilayer printed circuit boards. Ceramic capacitors and inductor coils reduce the harmonics of the AC, which get generated by the AC power supplies rapid switching from capacitor power to running power.
Like I mentioned before, capacitors can retain energy and electricity even after the AC gets turned off. Stored-up power is enough to cause an electrical shock that can injure or kill those unlucky enough to get zapped by it. A safety capacitor has a bleeding mechanism that allows the handler to safely discharge the electricity, thereby making the capacitor safe to touch.
Start and run capacitors
These types of capacitors are some of the most commonly used in modern air conditioners. They provide a smooth transition from starting power to running power but need to be handled with care as they still store energy after the AC is no longer active.
How does an air condenser capacitor work?
An air condenser capacitor works but effectively. It stores up energy from previous use and the constant supply of electricity feeding your AC. This stored-up energy is released when you attempt to start the air conditioner, aiding in its activation. The capacitor then smoothly transitions into a running mode where it continues to conduct energy to keep the condenser running smoothly and as it should.
While the air conditioner is running, the capacitor gathers and stores up energy when the AC kicks off and needs to start up again. The way a capacitor works is similar to how the battery and alternator work in your car. The batter stores up energy that helps your vehicle start, and the alternator feeds it with continual power that allows the vehicle’s components to operate.
Without a working capacitor, your air conditioner will not be able to start and operate normally. Getting it checked regularly by a qualified service professional is crucial to staying comfortable during the summer.
How to tell if you need a new air condenser capacitor
A condenser capacitor might not give out suddenly or unexpectedly. While this is possible, there are also cases when a capacitor will give you warning signs that indicate it’s about to give out. Here are some of the best ways to tell if your capacitor is on the fritz.
AC blows warm or lukewarm air
An air conditioner that’s blowing warm or lukewarm air could be an indicator of several problems. One of these problems could be with the capacitor itself. Warm air coming out of your registers can mean many different things, so make sure to test each component of your AC before jumping to any conclusions.
Unusually high energy bills
Air condenser capacitors allow your air conditioner to run smoothly and efficiently. If it starts to give out, other parts of your air conditioner will have to pick up the slack, which will make it work harder than it’s designed to. Trouble running smoothly will inevitably result in a less efficient cooling system and result in higher energy bills.
AC makes a humming noise while running
Conducting a humming test is something that every homeowner can and should do regularly. All you need to do is turn your AC on and listen to it. If it’s making a strange humming sound rather than its normal noise, it could be an indicator that your capacitor is going bad.
Age is an indicator
The older your air conditioner is, the more likely your capacitor is to give out. It’s not unusual for a capacitor to last as long as the AC it’s attached to, but they can also give out prematurely.
AC starts slowly or not at all
If you notice that your air conditioner is struggling to turn on, there’s a good chance that your capacitor is going bad. If it eventually fails to start at all, then the capacitor has given out.
By paying attention to the sounds and manner in which your condenser operates, you can know if your capacitor is going bad.
What causes a condenser capacitor to go bad?
Capacitors are finicky devices that can last for a long time or give out within a year of your AC’s installation. The better the quality of your air conditioner, the better and longer your capacitor will last. Here are some of the main reasons a capacitor gives out prematurely.
Like I said before, capacitors are manufactured devices without an infinite lifespan. The older your air conditioner is, the more likely the capacitor is to malfunction and need replacing.
It seems silly to say that capacitors give out when exposed to high heat when it’s your air conditioner’s job to operate when it’s hot outside. Unfortunately, this catch 22 is a reality, and high heat reduces the lifespan of your capacitor. To keep it from giving out early, provide your air conditioner with shade while it’s operating and with a sun cover when it isn’t. This is especially important in southern states like Florida and Arizona.
Read our full heating, ventilation, and air conditioning guide.
Voltage rating refers to the size of the capacitor and its energy-storing capabilities. There are different sized capacitors, and if your AC is equipped with one that’s smaller than it needs to be, it will give out sooner. If you decide to replace your capacitor yourself, it’s important to pick one with the same voltage rating as your old one.
How to replace an air condenser capacitor
If you decide to go the route of saving money and trying to replace the capacitor yourself, here’s what you need to know. The process is fairly simple and straightforward as long as you follow proper safety measures.
1. Turn the air conditioner off
Make sure the air conditioner is turned off and that the power is disconnected from it. You can do this by flipping the breaker or pulling the disconnect switch next to the air conditioner. Simply turning the thermostat off will deactivate the AC, but not the electricity running to it.
2. Remove the outer panel of the AC
The outer panel or cover will be fastened with two or three screws that you’ll need to loosen to remove the cover. Make sure to keep the screws handy because it’s difficult to find replacements for them.
3. Check the size and type of capacitor and buy a new one
Take note of the size and style of the capacitor so that you can buy an exact replacement.
4. Discharge the capacitors stored up power
This is the most dangerous and important step in the replacement process. To release the capacitors’ stored up energy, use a screwdriver with an insulated handle and place it over each of the metal terminals on the top of the capacitor. This will short-circuit the capacitor and release any electricity that it’s holding.
5. Install the new capacitor
Your capacitor will have three wires running into them that need to be reinstalled on the new capacitor exactly as they were on the old one. When you remove the old capacitor and disconnect the wires, take note and mark where each one needs to go on the new one. Install the new capacitor in place of the old one and reconnect the wires as needed.
To secure the new capacitor in place, you’ll need a strap of some sort to hold it up. If the old one is still usable, feel free to reuse it. If you need a new one, however, make sure you pick one up when you buy your new capacitor.
6. Turn the power back on and perform a test
It’s time to restore power to your air conditioner and give your system a test run. If everything seems to be working as it should, then congratulations on your successful capacitor replacement!
FAQ’s about air condenser capacitors
Question: How long do capacitors last?
Answer: The average lifespan of an AC capacitor is around 10 to 20 years. The quality of the capacitor and the amount of heat it’s subjected to affect its lifespan, however. In cooler areas where your AC doesn’t run as often or as long, your capacitor will last 20+ years. If your capacitor is frequently subjected to high heat and runs often, it could give out in fewer than 10.
Question: How much do capacitors cost?
Answer: The average cost of the capacitor itself is usually around $100 to $150. To have a technician replace the capacitor for you can run anywhere from $200 to $400 depending on the size of the capacitor and what the HVAC tech charges.
Question: Can I replace a capacitor myself?
Answer: If you have sufficient electrical experience and mechanical skills, then you can attempt to replace a capacitor yourself. Always remember that the capacitor has stored up electrical energy that can shock you if it isn’t released first.
Question: Can an air conditioner operate without a capacitor?
Answer: If your air condenser capacitor has given out, then your AC won’t be able to start up. If it’s on the verge of giving out but is still somewhat functional, your AC won’t run smoothly or efficiently.
Question: What to do if your capacitor isn’t working?
Answer: If your capacitor isn’t working, the best thing you can do is call a heating and cooling professional near you and have them test the capacitor. If it’s given out for whatever reason, they will have the tools and replacement capacitor necessary to get your AC up and running.
Your air condenser capacitor is a vital component of your air conditioning system. Without it, your AC will not operate, and you’ll be forced to endure an uncomfortable summer. It’s important to pay attention to your capacitor and know where you can easily and readily purchase a new one when necessary. By staying ahead of problems like bad capacitors, you can enjoy a relaxing and comfortable summer.
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