Did you know air conditioner manufacturers no longer put an important part in their units? Hard
start kits are often an aftermarket item now, but once upon a time they were considered so important that they were in almost every air conditioner sold. What happened? Well, to be honest, unit manufacturers wanted to lower overhead. Here’s the dirt on a very overlooked component of all air conditioning systems.
First, let’s discuss what a hard start kit is. Inside your air conditioning unit there is a very expensive and important part called the compressor. If you were to liken an air conditioner to the human body, the refrigerant would be the blood and the compressor would be the heart. The compressor pumps the refrigerant through the system so that it can pick up and then give off heat. Without the compressor, the unit can’t function at all.
I hate to get a little technical, but I need to here. The compressor is the hardest working piece of machinery in the unit. It draws a significant amount of electrical current and amperage and works its hardest when starting.
Every unit has a capacitor, a tiny device that stores an extra electrical charge, and releases it to the compressor when the unit starts and runs so that the compressor can function. Technically that’s enough, but it’s a minimal amount. A hard start kit provides even more electrical charge so that the compressor doesn’t have to work so hard to start up.
Installation affects how hard the compressor works during start up as well. There are specific technical issues that determine when a hard start kit will be needed and useful on a new unit. The problem is that most installers do not know this and if a capacitor does not come standard from the factory, they are rarely added during installation.
This means that if you do not have a hard start kit, your compressor may be working that much
harder to cool your home. When a compressor is required to work longer and harder, it is likely to fail sooner. Talk to your HVAC tech and ask if your compressor is pulling excessive start amperage and he can tell you if this is a necessary part to keep your equipment running longer and healthier. Compressors work hard and are expensive to replace. Now you understand why a hard start kit can be a valuable addition to your unit.
Richard Hodkingson is a graduate of:
Fortis College HVAC program.
He has been working with:
Kuhn Air Conditioning