AC Capacitor Cost: Average Replacement Prices
There are many moving parts to any air conditioning unit, and when one goes bad, the whole system does too. One often overlooked but important part of an air conditioner is the capacitor, and it provides electrical energy. An AC capacitor is an integral part of your home’s air conditioning, but how much does it cost?
To have an AC capacitor installed professionally is about $150 and that’s including for both the parts and labor. The cost for the AC capacitor itself is $50, and it is another $100 for the labor. However, if you decide to install it yourself, you will only pay about $50.
If your AC capacitor is not working, you need to call an HVAC professional and get it fixed right away. Let’s take a deep dive into the costs of replacing an AC capacitor.
What Is An AC Capacitor?
An AC capacitor is a component of an air conditioner that helps power the blower, fan, and compressor. Without a properly working AC capacitor, your HVAC system won’t work optimally, and you’ll need to replace it.
Many homeowners don’t know what a capacitor is until they find out it’s the reason their air conditioner doesn’t work. When you turn on an air conditioner, your AC capacitor gives a jolt to the motors and fans. When the system does not turn on, it is often because the AC capacitor needs to be replaced.
How Much Does An AC Capacitor Cost?
Most homeowners spend between $30 and $50 on an AC capacitor, but there are options in the $10-$15 range. There are some options that are as much as $200, but that is mostly unnecessary and avoidable.
The total cost of having an AC capacitor installed is between $100 and $200 typically. However, because it is a servicing job, labor is the biggest cost factor and varies from person to person. Luckily, replacing and AC capacitor takes 30 minutes to 1 hour, and that keeps the cost low.
If your heating and air conditioning professional charges you more than $200 for labor and the part, something is wrong.
AC Capacitor Price
The price of an AC capacitor is determined by a few things. Luckily, AC capacitors are highly affordable, and that is good because they can go bad easily. Let’s look at some of the factors that determine the price of an AC capacitor.
AC Capacitor Types
There are two types of AC capacitors: run and start. Most modern homes have run AC capacitors, and they work by creating a magnetic field. Within run AC capacitors, there are 2 categories:
- Single-stage: Has two terminals and starts one motor at a time
- Dual-stage: Has three terminals and can start up and can start multiple motors
Single-stage AC capacitors cost between $10 and $50. Dual-stage AC capacitors start at $20 but can cost as much as $200 in some cases.
There is another type of AC capacitor called a start capacitor that delivers electricity and starts a motor. Start capacitors only run as needed, and they cost between $10 and $180.
Labor Cost To Install AC Capacitor
Labor is a big part of the cost of any home repair and installation. The cost of labor is the biggest part of the price tag for an AC capacitor replacement. Generally, people spend $30-$50 for the part itself, and $100- $200 total, including the labor.
That means that $70-$150 of the cost of installation comes from labor and supplies. Installing an AC capacitor only takes up a total of 30 minutes, and a maximum of 1 hour. If you go online, you can see that many homeowners were shocked to receive bills over $200 for a capacitor replacement.
If you want to be safe, you can buy the capacitor on your own and hire someone to install it. There are numerous accounts online of HVAC professionals charging $200-$300 for a capacitor replacement, and that’s exorbitant. Call around for quotes.
Why Does My AC Capacitor Keep Going Out?
An AC capacitor can go out for many reasons, and it is not your fault. One of the most common causes for a capacitor going out is overheating.
Overheating causes a short circuit, and that causes the capacitor to stop working. When the capacitor stops working, the motors and fans can’t get an electric or magnetic jumpstart. An AC capacitor can short circuit at 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
Too Much Electricity
If the motor or fans become blocked, it can cause an electrical overload and damage the capacitor. Each air conditioner unit has rated values for voltage, and if you exceed that value, it can short the capacitor.
Outside factors can also damage your AC capacitor. For example, if there was a severe storm and it caused a power surge, that surge may “zap” your capacitor. The same can be said for lightning strikes and water coming into contact with the electrical parts.
They say that you can get between 10 and 20 years out of an AC capacitor. That is quite a long shelf life, but there are many variables that affect it. As mentioned above, there are several problems that can render a capacitor useless before that time.
However, the 10-20 year lifespan attributed to AC capacitors is based on a usage limit. You can start most capacitors 50,000 times in their lifetime. So technically, the timeline has less to do with the years and more to do with your own usage.
Shelf life and usage go hand in hand no matter what the household appliance is. You’ll notice the telltale signs of a bad capacitor, such as humming and difficulty starting, near the 10-year mark.
Is My AC Capacitor Bad?
If you are having trouble starting your AC and it is making noise, it could be bad. On paper, AC capacitors can last as long as 20 years. There are several signs that indicate that your AC capacitor needs to be replaced, such as:
- AC is humming often
- No cold air comes out
- AC does not turn on
- Stops and starts abruptly
Most homeowners catch the bad capacitor when it is too late, and the system won’t start. That is not their fault, however, as that can sometimes be the first sign. Another common sign that your capacitor is bad if your AC hums but won’t turn on.
If you catch your AC humming, call an HVAC professional and count yourself lucky you found an early sign. The capacitor still likely needs to be replaced, but at least you found out before it was too bad. And finally, if you simply cannot turn the AC on at all, it means your capacitor is bad.
DIY AC Capacitor Replacement
Choosing to do it yourself and replace the AC capacitor on your own can save money. The majority of AC capacitor replacement cost comes from the labor and doing it yourself eliminates that.
Replacing an AC capacitor on your own costs between $10 and $50. It could cost more or less depending on the capacitor that you buy. You must be safe and make sure the power is off, but besides that, you can safely and easily replace an AC capacitor on your own and save as much as $200 or more.
Will the AC fan run if the capacitor is bad?
In some cases, it will run, and in other cases, it will not. If you have a bad AC capacitor and your fan still runs, it likely won’t for long.The fan is greatly strained because there is no working capacitor, and it can wind up damaging and possibly breaking the fan.
What should an AC capacitor read?
Your AC capacitor should be within the 6% range of the expressed rating for your specific unit. You can find out the reading with an analog type meter.Checking the reading of your AC capacitor is a great way to tell you what shape it is in, and if it is more than 5% below the recommended rating, it has gone bad.
How long does it take to replace an AC capacitor?
It takes 30 minutes on average to install an AC capacitor, but it can take as much as an hour. However, many seasoned professionals can complete the job in between 5 and 10 minutes.
Summing It Up
It costs between $100 and $200 to have your AC capacitor replaced. Homeowners spend $30 on average on the part itself, but you could spend $10-$15 and still get a good one.
The rest of the cost comes from the 30-minute installation. Some people have to overpay and spend up to $400 for capacitor replacement, and that is why many choose to go DIY. If you install an AC capacitor yourself, you can save up to $200 or more.
If your air conditioner is humming or won’t startup, you may need to replace your capacitor.
Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.
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