An air conditioning hard start kit is a capacitor that can collect and store the electricity for later use like a complex battery. This unit can give the AC system an extra energy boost to get the system started. In this article, we will explain how this works and why it’s important.

5 Key HVAC System Components

Before we get started, it’s easier to understand how the AC hard start kit works if you have a good understanding of these five key HVAC components. They are:

1.   Refrigerant

This is also referred to as “coolant”, the terms are interchangeable and this is the substance that’s used to move the heat out of the home. Refrigerant is cold, it’s kept under pressure and circulated through the evaporator coils. The heat and some moisture are absorbed from the surrounding air and this makes the room feel cooler. If there is a refrigerant leak in the system the “cooling” efficiency is lowered.

2.   The Evaporator

This unit is usually located inside the home and its purpose is to transfer the cooled air from the refrigerant coils to the room.

3.   The Compressor

The refrigerant must be pressurized to work efficiently and to drive it through the pipes that form a circuit between the areas that are warm and cooled. The compressor is a pump driven by a motor that keeps the refrigerant pumping through the system. If the compressor fails the air conditioning system cannot function.

4.   The Condenser

This unit is located outdoors, the heat that’s captured and removed from the home is vented via the condenser.

5.   Fans

The AC system has fans which may be referred to as blower units which are used to distribute the cooler air around the home and to move the hotter air outside. The air is moved via a series of ducts and vents that need to be clean and clear to work efficiently.

The five elements require a lot of power to work continuously and in an older system, the coolant pipes may be too long. This may require even more power to generate the required refrigerant pressure and to blow the air around the home. This is where a hard start kit can be used to get the compressor functioning to make the entire system work.

How Does an AC Hard Start Kit Work?

Electrical devices consume more energy during the startup than they require to run during normal operations. This is because the motors need to go from a fully stopped position up to the correct velocity to work. The energy that’s consumed can be considerable, it could be as much as 4-8 times more than normal operation. But, once those blower units and other systems are up and running it’s far more energy efficient to keep them moving at a variety of speeds.

The run capacitors that are designed to work with compressors typically have good components. But, they are less capable for the increased electrical power requirements that are necessary during startup. The best way to think of this is that a normal capacitor is a good long distance runner, but it’s not a great sprinter. The AC hard start kit is the exact opposite, it’s designed to handle the necessary initial power surge that takes place during the first few seconds.

The AC hard start kit stores a certain amount of power beforehand in a similar way to a battery. This energy is released into the compressor motor to get it moving up to optimal speed almost instantaneously. This reduces the stress on the compressor motor and then the long-term regular capacitor can take over for normal operations.

3 Advantages of an AC Hard Start Kit

The AC system needs the compressor to work efficiently, but several years of operation can take a toll. So, there are three advantages if you install a hard start kit:

1.   The Compressor Lifespan is Extended

When the compressor works from a full stop to reach the running speed it consumes a lot of energy. The more energy that is consumed in this way creates heat and the excessive heat can damage the wire coils in the motor. This can lead to a burn out repair or an earlier than expected replacement. A hard start kit will reduce the heat and this protects the compressor which is an expensive component. Many manufacturers now recommend an AC hard start kit even for new high-efficiency AC systems.

2.   Improved Energy Efficiency

Even high-efficiency HVAC systems consume more power when they start. A hard start kit is a more energy efficient way to start the system with an efficiency of approximately 98% and this is reflected in your energy bills.

3.   Dealing with Low Voltage Problems

Older homes or a home where the wiring systems are less than optimal may suffer from low voltage issues that can affect electrical devices. Worn or improperly sized electrical wiring can also limit the power that’s available for an AC system power up. The hard start kit can compensate for these issues to get the system running by reducing the power load.

Is an AC Hard Start Kit a Permanent Solution?

Yes, they are designed to be used for long-term use and the better quality models can last for decades! Most HVAC systems can be improved with an early hard start kit installation because the compressor will be protected. As an added benefit there are immediate energy savings because the power consumption is lowered at startup. When you consider the relatively low cost of a hard start kit it starts to look like a real bargain.

In Conclusion

A hard start kit may revitalize a compressor that’s already older or damaged. But, an HVAC specialist would probably recommend a compressor replacement and a hard start kit to protect it. If you’re already experiencing start up and running problems it’s important to get an expert opinion. Most hard start kits are not overly complex units, but they must be matched to your system and professional installation is highly recommended.

If you’re interested in an AC hard start kit for your HVAC system, contact your local heating and cooling specialist today.