How Much Does It Cost To Replace an AC Capacitor?

October 18, 2023

Advanced Air HVAC technician inspecting an outdoor AC unit

For AC capacitor replacement, anticipate spending between $150 and $400, depending on the capacitor's type and accessibility. A bad AC capacitor is a fairly minor repair, and most HVAC technicians will recommend a repair rather than replacing the unit when the capacitor is the problem.

However, if your AC capacitor has been malfunctioning for an extended period, the damage might be more extensive than initially apparent. If you need multiple repairs, or the capacitor failed because it exceeded the air conditioner's life expectancy, it might be a good time to consider a new unit. In this blog, we'll go over:

  • Understanding your AC capacitor
  • Signs of a faulty AC capacitor
  • AC capacitor replacement costs
  • When it's worth investing in a new AC

Once you know all the ins and outs of AC capacitors, you're better equipped with information about your next steps when it comes to your cooling unit.

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Understanding Your AC Capacitor

Think of your AC capacitor as a short-term but very powerful battery. Essentially, these small devices store extra electricity that your air conditioner needs to power on, providing an initial cooling burst. Your home electric system typically doesn't safely route enough power for your AC unit, which is why they come with installed capacitors. While similar to batteries due to their electrical storage function, a capacitor differs in one important aspect— constantly moving electricity. That means you can't just pop out an old one and put in a new one without risking an electric shock.

Because capacitors provide that extra kick of electricity every time your AC unit goes through a cooling cycle, these devices get a lot of wear and tear. In fact, air conditioner capacitor replacement is one of the most common repairs needed during the summer.

Signs of a Faulty AC Capacitor

A bad AC capacitor can cause many problems with your air conditioner, ranging from a failure to start to a suddenly high energy bill. If you notice any of these problems, you'll want to get an HVAC professional to diagnose the issue.

  • Your AC takes a long time to cool your home.
  • Your AC won't start.
  • Your AC shuts off randomly.
  • Your AC runs, but there's no cold air.
  • You hear a humming whenever the air is running.
  • There's a burning odor coming from your unit.
  • The electric bill just jumped.

All of these symptoms can indicate various issues with your AC unit. While a capacitor is often the cause, it's not the only issue that can make your AC unit act up as described. There's no replacement for good diagnostics.

AC Capacitor Replacement Costs

HVAC capacitor replacement generally costs around $250, including installation. However, some higher-capacity devices may cost $400 or more. How much is labor, and how much is an AC capacitor? It all depends, but expect the labor to be the bulk of the repair bill. A capacitor typically costs between $9-$45, with the rest of the bill aimed at labor costs.

But remember, capacitor replacement is not a DIY job. You'll want a certified professional to handle the work to avoid damaging your unit. Since live electricity runs through the capacitor, It's crucial to be well-versed in and follow all industry-recommended safety guidelines to prevent injury and unit damage during capacitor installation.

When It's Worth Investing in a New AC

The general rule of thumb for AC replacement is that once the cost of repairs starts to get close to half the cost of replacement, getting a new unit is the better option. But, if your air conditioner is over a decade old, you should start planning to replace it regardless of repair costs.

Over time, air conditioners lose energy efficiency, and newer units get better at cooling with less energy. The combination means that within 10-15 years, it's often cheaper to get a new unit than to continue using the old one in the long term. Plus, if replacing the AC capacitor doesn't fix the problem, it often means there's a more expensive repair hiding that can make a new unit the more affordable option.

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