Where To Buy An Air Conditioner Capacitor (Locally & Online)
When it’s summer, there are few parts of your home that will be as cherished as your AC unit. Unfortunately, this is one of the most common times when you’ll face a blown air conditioner capacitor. While it’s a quick fix (all you have to do is replace the capacitor), you still need to find the supplies to make it happen. But where on earth do you find an air conditioner capacitor?
Buying an air conditioner capacitor isn’t always easy to do, but it’s doable if you know where to go. The most common places to obtain one include:
- Home Improvement Stores
- HVAC Supply Stores
- Department Stores
AC capacitors are not easy to find, primarily because this is a part that is typically only bought by people who work in the HVAC sphere. However, they’re still good to source before you need one. This guide will help you figure out how you can get your hands on one as soon as possible.
Where Can You Buy An Air Conditioner Capacitor?
Finding an air conditioner capacitor isn’t going to be the easiest thing in the world, primarily because it’s a part of a large machine and most people don’t do their own fixes anymore. However, it’s not impossible to find a place that offers up these AC parts. Let’s look at the most common places you can check.
Home Improvement Stores
When we say “home improvement stores,” we don’t mean Restoration Hardware. We mean places like Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Ace Hardware. This should come as no surprise to anyone since hardware stores are some of the most reliable places to get all sorts of air conditioner parts.
The benefit of these stores is fairly obvious: most hardware stores have fully-stocked HVAC sections and highly trained staff members. This means that you have a bigger selection of capacitors to choose from and will also have the right people to help pair you with the right capacitor for your model.
Prices in hardware stores are pretty cheap, which makes this both cost-effective and highly convenient.
HVAC Supply Stores
Don’t want to go to Lowe’s? Have a more obscure air conditioning unit brand that most hardware stores don’t carry? If you live in an area that has a high population density, you might be in luck. You can occasionally find supply stores that are entirely devoted to the HVAC equipment that helps keep your home cool.
These specialty stores have massive supplies relating to HVAC, and also boast some of the harder-to-find capacitors for more obscure units on the market. Since these stores tend to cater to HVAC professionals, you can bet that you will find affordable prices and a decent span of knowledge.
The big issue here is that most towns do not have one of these specialty stores. They tend to be found in major cities and industrial areas. If you live in the middle of nowhere, you probably won’t have this option available to you.
Okay, this is a rather sticky subject. When we mean “department stores” we don’t mean Macy’s or even Wal-Mart. (Well, Wal-Mart is a potential choice, if you go online for their supplies!) There is one department store that is pretty famous for carrying HVAC supplies and tools—at least, for as long as it will stick around.
That store is Sears. Yes, that Sears.
Admittedly, Sears has been on a downward spiral for the past five years or so. Stores are closing left and right, which means that you might not have this choice available for you much longer. Moreover, the selection that Sears has in-store can be pretty small. However, if you have a very common AC unit, this is still a workable choice. Our suggestion? Find another store if you can. If you can’t, then you should go to Sears.
Aside from Sears, the chances of finding a capacitor for your AC unit is going to be a little more difficult. Most Wal-Marts do not sell AC parts in-store. The same can be said of BJs, Sam’s Clubs, and Targets.
The easiest way to find the right capacitor for an AC unit is to go online. There are literally hundreds of vendors who sell brand-specific AC unit capacitors specifically for your model. This is one of the better choices, specifically for people who are looking for a cheap way to get the capacitors without having to hunt from store to store.
Most online stores sell capacitors at a dirt-cheap price, which makes it a great selection for people on a budget. Since there are a bunch of platforms that sell capacitors, there is also the added perk of having a higher chance of obtaining free shipping. After all, that’s one of the benefits of a free market: higher competition for customers.
The only drawback to this method is that you may need to wait a couple of days to receive the capacitor that you ordered. If you live in an area that’s intolerable without air conditioning, this could pose a problem. If you live in a place like New Jersey, it might be a little more doable.
How Much Does An AC Unit Capacitor Cost?
Though finding this little part isn’t always easy, the truth is that the search is usually the most of your worries. A typical AC unit capacitor will cost between $10 to $30 to purchase. However, there may be bigger or smaller costs associated with replacing your capacitor. To find out more, check out our article on the cost of an AC unit capacitor here.
An Important Hack To Know About AC Capacitor Replacement
Are you having a really hard time finding a place that sells AC unit capacitors? Can’t wait for another day? We totally understand that. There’s a quick way to get the capacitor replacement that you need. Most HVAC professionals have a large supply of capacitors that they keep on hold for clients that need emergency repairs—clients like you.
While it’s not the cheapest way to obtain a capacitor, there is something to be said about the convenience. That’s why it often makes sense to hire a professional to replace your AC capacitor, especially if you live in an area where high heat can pose a danger. If you’re good friends with an HVAC tech, you might also be able to just buy the part from them.
Should You Buy More Than One AC Unit Capacitor?
Though it’s possible to buy one capacitor at a time, it’s never really a wise idea. In fact, you might not even be able to repair your AC unit with only one capacitor replacement. Most AC units will need to have both capacitors replaced at the same time. Models that run on only a single capacitor do exist, but they are in the minority and are usually low-powered options.
In many cases, you will notice that capacitors are sold in packs of two. This is by design, since capacitors should always be replaced in pairs. If you want to avoid a headache later on, it’s best to order a second pack of dual capacitors so that you can replace them later on. After all, no one likes to be stuck looking for another set of capacitors a couple of years down the road.
How Long Should Capacitors Last?
While it’s always good to have spares (because sometimes, there may be an underlying issue causing capacitor blowouts), the truth is that you shouldn’t expect your capacitors to blow out. Most air conditioner capacitors last for 10 to 20 years, making them a fairly long-lasting part of your HVAC system.
However, there are always exceptions to the rule. If you have a capacitor that was poorly made or unusually small, there is a good chance that it won’t last longer than five years. In some cases, defective capacitors can even go bad almost immediately out of the pack. That’s where having spares can make a lot of sense.
What happens if an AC unit capacitor goes bad?
The capacitor is what regulates the flow of electricity in the outside unit and makes sure that your unit doesn’t short circuit. This means that you will end up having serious problems with the overall running of your AC unit. You may notice that your unit won’t run at the right capacity, or that it won’t turn on.Many people who have a failing capacitor will also have a hard time turning on their AC unit. They may notice stuttering or just a sudden shutoff shortly after it turns on. If left to its own devices, an AC unit with a bad capacitor will eventually fail as a system.
Can I run my AC unit without a capacitor?
Nope. The vast majority of the motors that make an AC unit work are meant to work exclusively with the use of a capacitor. This means that if you try to turn on your unit, chances are that it won’t make much of a difference. It’ll stay off. At best, you might have your unit run for a very short period of time (like minutes) then turn off.
When should you replace an air conditioner’s capacitor?
An air conditioner’s capacitor should always be replaced when it shows signs of failing. If you’ve had your AC unit for more than 10 years or so, you might also want to replace the capacitor as a precaution. All AC units that remain in use will end up needing a capacitor change eventually. So, it’s best to be proactive about the matter and know the warning signs before you need to run to the store.
Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.
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