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Question DetailsAsked on 6/28/2017

On average how long should an air conditioner capacitor last?

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2 Answers


Hello Gvernot ,

Thank you for reaching out. At this time Angie's List has no data or information we can use to answer your question. If you need a capacitor replaced we have plenty of providers on our list that can help. By setting up a membership at and searching our "Heating and Cooling", you can find provider in your area to assist with your needs.

Thanks for your question!

Iann M

Answered 3 years ago by Member Services


Depends on how often your unit operates, ambient temperature (they tend to break down faster in hot conditions), and most importantly whether your capacitor is constant-run or cuts out once the motor has started. Some higher quality brands use the capacitor only when the compressor or fan is starting and have a solenoid cut it to cut it out of the circuit the rest of the time, but probably most 5 ton and under size ones run the power for the motor through the capacitor so it is charging and discharging continually (many times per second) all the time the motor is running, which obviously makes it die quicker. The type of compressor also makes a big difference - the normal (probably vast majority of household units these days) scroll type compressor has a lot less starting resistance than a sliding vane or piston type compressor so the capacitor does not work as hard.
And of course quality matters a lot - some name brand ones last a couple of decades or more, some very cheap imports last less than a year - sometimes dramatically less. "Average" is hard to put a number on, but probably about 3-7 years in very hot climates for a typical one which is direct wired to the motor, maybe 6-10 years in cooler / less frequent use areas. Using a hard start assist kit which assists the main capacitor start (so two capacitors are working at the same time) can extend its life significantly on hard-starting units, and the ones that cut the capacitor out of the circuit once the motor is turning at speed might increase its life by a factor of 5-10 or more, at an additional $100-200 installed cost probably to put that type unit in at the next capacitor changeout. Here is a blog explaining use of start capacitors - some motor types may need a run capacitor, many types run fine on direct power feed without any capacitor once they are running - in the old days "hard-start kits" and capacitor cutouts were standard, but in the drive to the cheapest price most manufacturers have dropped them from the factory configuration.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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