What does an Air Conditioning Capacitor do?

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes to keep your Florida home cool and comfortable year-round. Take your air conditioner, for instance. It’s a modern marvel that’s brimming with a wide variety of cooling technology. Among these components is the capacitor, an essential device with a pretty important job when it comes to cooling your home. Let’s check out what it does and how it affects your AC system.

How an AC Capacitor Works

Your average AC capacitor isn’t the same as the ones you might see on a circuit board. If fact, they’re much bigger than you’re expecting. A typical capacitor is roughly about the size of a lantern battery.

Speaking of batteries, a capacitor works in a similar fashion as a battery, but not quite. For starters, a capacitor can store and deliver significantly more energy than the average battery. That makes it perfect for delivering short bursts of high energy when needed.

The moment your AC system turns on, the capacitor kicks in to deliver that burst of energy. This ensures that the system is able to start properly. After that, the capacitor’s job is done until it’s called to deliver another jolt.

Why Your Air Conditioning System Needs One

Turning on an air conditioner may seem as simple as turning on a TV or lamp, but there’s much more involved behind the scenes. Your typical air conditioner actually needs lots of power during startup – often more than what the system gets from your home’s electrical grid. This is where the capacitor comes into play.

Think of a capacitor as a jump starter for your air conditioner. Whereas a jump starter delivers extra juice to your battery to start your car, the capacitor sends an extra jolt of electrical energy the moment the AC system needs the extra juice.

Your air conditioning system may have multiple capacitors with each one tasked with starting a high-energy component. For instance, your AC compressor will have a capacitor dedicated to starting its motor. You may also have a capacitor to start the blower motor for the outdoor condenser cabinet, as well as one for the indoor blower motor.

Some systems may have what’s known as a “dual capacitor.” It’s just two smaller capacitors joined together in a space-saving configuration. You’ll find these in mini-split systems and other units where space is at a premium.

When and Why AC Capacitors Fail

AC capacitor failure isn’t unusual. The combination of high voltage and high temperatures will eventually take their toll. Capacitors can also fail if they’re damaged through lightning strikes or power surges.

If you suspect your AC capacitor is on its way out, here are a few warning signs to look out for:

  • The AC system takes longer than usual to start or doesn’t start at all
  • The AC system randomly turns off
  • Humming noises coming from the AC unit
  • You smell acrid smoke coming from the AC unit
  • Your power bill is significantly higher than normal

Let Us Solve Your AC Capacitor Issues

A failing AC capacitor can definitely put a damper on your Florida afternoon. Let the experts at Essential Air Conditioning take care of your AC capacitor issues. If you need an entire air conditioner replacement, our installation specialists will get the job done with minimal downtime. Contact us today to learn more.

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