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Air Conditioner Capacitor: What it is and Where to Buy


With the continuous increase in global temperature, air conditioners have become an essential part of everyone’s life. People find stand fans, and other natural cooling methods, insufficient to keep them comfortable for the day. In fact, a rise of 42.6% was observed by the Philippine Statistics Office (PSA), in their 2018 consensus of Philippine industries that use gas, electricity, and air conditioning systems in their daily activities.

Due to this high demand, people are also trying to learn the different parts of an AC unit. Not only will it help them understand what type of aircon they need, but it will also teach them how to keep it well-maintained. However, they are only familiar with condensers, evaporators, and refrigerants. While these parts make up the cooling system of the AC, air conditioner capacitors are often overlooked by many users.

But what makes the air conditioner capacitor important? What is it? And where can I buy one, in case of replacement?

What are Air Conditioner Capacitors?

Air Conditioner Capacitor

Air conditioner capacitors are like large batteries. These devices power up the fan motor of an air conditioning unit and have the capacity to store temporary electricity to stabilize the AC unit. AC capacitors work as electronic components to store charge in their electrostatic field.

Not only can the power supply be used to start up the cooling system, but also to keep the motors running for a long period. Thus, the AC unit will not run or it will be less efficient if its capacitor is broken. Unlike batteries, a new capacitor can’t be immediately inserted into the aircon to fix the problem.

What Causes Aircon Capacitor Failure?

Air conditioner capacitors are one of the most frequently replaced parts in residential air conditioning systems. These components typically have a long lifespan, but after almost a decade of use, the air conditioner would require a new one. An air conditioning capacitor is prone to overheating if the AC unit is left running uninterrupted. Tropical countries, like the Philippines, often experience air conditioner capacitor malfunction due to overexertion. Summer heat in these places becomes extremely unbearable, hence the people become too reliant on the aircon.

Another cause of the malfunction is the accumulated dirt inside the air conditioner if it’s left uncleaned for several months or years. This often calls for the component to be replaced immediately. Physical damage, such as a direct hit of debris on the outdoor unit of a split system air conditioner or the external casing of a window-type, can also ruin the AC capacitor.

In addition, improper voltage connection can cause the air conditioner capacitor to short-circuit because it can potentially overload the voltage rating the device can hold. The aircon motor relies on the amount of voltage supplied by the capacitor to run continuously.

What are the Signs of a Malfunctioning AC Unit Capacitor?

Air Conditioner Capacitor

A broken air conditioner capacitor often results in air conditioner breakdowns. Here are the common indications that it needs maintenance or replacement.

  1. The air conditioner is slow in booting up or it no longer starts.
  2. A loud humming noise can be heard every time the AC runs.
  3. Cold air is no longer felt inside the house.
  4. A noticeable smoke or burning smell can be seen coming out from the AC unit.
  5. The aircon randomly shuts down.
  6. The monthly electricity bill is unreasonably high.

A bad capacitor needs an immediate replacement to lessen the damage it might cause to the air conditioning system. Not only it will save the users time and effort, but it will also save them more money.

Can I Replace AC Capacitor Myself?

The answer is no. Only an experienced HVAC technician should be hired to replace a bad air conditioner capacitor because this electrical component is connected with different types of wires inside the AC unit. One wrong connection of the wires can add more damage to the overall performance of the aircon.

In addition, capacitors still hold a huge amount of electrical charge despite turning the AC unit off. This can potentially harm inexperienced users if they try to change the bad capacitor by themselves. Thus, it’s best to let the HVAC technician handle the maintenance because they have all the types of equipment to properly replaced the broken capacitor.

How Do I Know What Capacitor to Get for My AC?

Every AC unit has its designated air conditioner capacitor. What suits the aircon type the users own is the kind of capacitor the technician will recommend. Generally, AC units can either have a single or dual capacitor.

Most AC systems have two single capacitors. These are the start capacitor and the run capacitor. The former is designed to deliver enough power to boot up the aircon’s motors and start the cooling cycle. On the other hand, the latter stores the incoming electricity and releases it from time to time to keep the aircon running.

However, most modern AC units have dual capacitors. This device does the job of both the start capacitor and the run capacitor on its own. It helps boot the motors to kickstart the cooling process and supply the energy the aircon needs to keep it running. It also saves more money as it can do the job of two capacitors, and saves more space in the AC unit. Hence, most technicians would replace two single capacitors with one double capacitor if it’s applicable to the aircon.

How Much Does a Capacitor for an Air Conditioner Cost?

A new air conditioner capacitor can be quite pricey, in order for the AC unit to deliver cool air once again. HVAC supply stores offer replacement capacitors which typically range from $120 to $250. The price can still depend on the AC brand and type of capacitor the technician would require. One air conditioner capacitor may be enough, in the case of dual capacitors. But AC systems designed to have two single capacitors may be more expensive.

In addition, a branded aircon has its unique features, hence the installation fee may also add up to the overall expenses. One good solution is to check the warranty privileges of the HVAC system if it’s still within the given timeframe.

Where Can I Purchase the Right Capacitor at Affordable Prices?

Buying a new air conditioner capacitor can be quite tedious. While most hardware stores offer a lot of HVAC supplies, they sometimes don’t have the type of component the HVAC tech needs. An old air conditioner capacitor, from an old aircon model, can be quite tricky to find since these types are mostly phased out immediately after being out-of-stocked or having low sales.

However, stopping at one store won’t solve the cooling problem of the AC. Many hardware has fully stocked HVAC sections which can be found in nearby places, or online. Here’s a list of how you can find a new one to replace your old air conditioner capacitor.

Home Improvement Stores

Most of the time, an AC capacitor can be bought by personnel who work within the HVAC sphere or industries which manufacture aircon. But home improvement stores, such as home depots, and hardware stores are the answer to finding the right air conditioner capacitor.

Aside from having a full selection of HVAC necessities, the prices may be affordable. Pre-ordering can also be done from these stores and negotiate with the management the time and place of delivery. Sometimes, they also suggest technicians that can install the capacitor at a more convenient price.

HVAC Supply Stores

Areas that are populated with a high density of people and commerce often have an HVAC supply store. This is a dedicated marketplace for airconditioner-related types of equipment and parts. Major cities have this kind of specialty store, which may offer hard-to-find capacitors for a specific brand

Oftentimes they have their technician, and the AC unit can be brought straightly to their place for maintenance. They have all the special tools needed to replace the capacitor and the wires connected to it. Moreover, professional advice is also given to people with less aircon knowledge, as well as a potential big discount to their valued shoppers.

Department Stores

Some department stores offer capacitors, but the chances are slim. The personnel would recommend the shoppers to visit a hardware store since it’s where a capacitor can be found. In any case that it can be found in this kind of place, the capacitor is not fit with the type of aircon unit the users have. 

However, the chances may increase if the department store is located in industrial areas. The only problem is having the patience to roam around town, just to find the right aircon capacitor for the unit.

Online Stores

Online shopping is the most convenient way to get an air conditioner capacitor. There are a lot of potential shops online that offer the type of capacitor the aircon technician needs. In any case, HVAC supply markets also order online, in case they lack the supplies.

The prices are also cheap since these capacitors are being sold on sale. Hence, these go out of stock immediately. Most online stores also offer general types of capacitors that can fit in any brand of aircon, but the technician needs to double-check it first to ensure no money will be wasted.

However, one underlying issue about ordering online is the quality of the product. Many online buyers have already encountered serious problems with their shipped equipment, like bad packaging, an incorrect product, and the list goes on. 

Final Thoughts

Maintaining the pristine condition of the air conditioner is difficult, especially in the middle of a high heat season. The parts of a window-type or split system aircon may differ, especially on the notion of having an indoor and outside unit, but both units have a capacitor.

This component acts like a battery and stabilizes the electrical current of the aircon, to keep the unit running for a long period. It keeps the motor fan and the compressor functioning despite continuous use. However, continuous unattended running will cause the air conditioner capacitor to overheat, resulting in an aircon breakdown.

Thus, maintaining the airconditioning system regularly is the best option to prevent the capacitor, and the other aircon components, from malfunctioning. Remember, the cost of replacing any of these parts can be quite pricey and tedious.

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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