# An Air Conditioning Capacitor: What It Is and How It Works
An air conditioning capacitor is an essential part of an AC unit. It stores the electrical charge that is required to start the compressor and fan motor. The capacitor acts as a power boost for the motors, providing the extra energy needed to start the unit. Like all components, it has a lifespan, and in this article, we will discuss the lifespan of an AC capacitor and factors that can affect it.
## How an AC Capacitor Works
An AC capacitor works like a battery. When power is applied to the capacitor, it stores the charge and holds it until it is needed. The stored energy then releases into the compressor and fan motor, and this is what initiates the unit’s operation. As time goes on, the capacitor can become weaker due to the release of energy. When an AC capacitor is weak, it will not function correctly or even fail altogether.
## Signs of a Failing AC Capacitor
A failed or weak capacitor can lead to problems such as slow start-up of the fan or compressor, motor overheating and tripping the circuit breaker. In some cases, a capacitor might even bulge or leak an oily substance; this indicates that it has failed and needs replacing. If you notice any of these issues, it’s important to get your AC capacitor checked by a professional technician.
## Lifespan of an AC Capacitor
Generally, a standard air conditioning capacitor has a lifespan of 10-20 years, but it could vary depending on the environmental and usage factors. Several variables can influence the lifespan of an AC capacitor.
### 1. Environment
Temperature variations and humidity can affect the lifespan of a capacitor. For example, high humidity can cause rust to form around the terminal connections, causing the capacitor’s failure, while temperature variations can cause the capacitor to expand and contract, leading to a shorter lifespan.
### 2. Usage
How often you use your AC unit will also determine how long the capacitor lasts. Frequent use will cause the capacitor to wear out more quickly than an AC unit that is used less frequently.
### 3. Quality of the Capacitor
The quality of the capacitor can also affect its lifespan. A lesser quality capacitor may only last a few years, while a premium quality one can last up to 20 years.
### 4. Power Surges
Power surges can also shorten the lifespan of a capacitor. A power surge can occur when the voltage supplied to your AC unit is higher than the normal range. This can cause the capacitor to overheat and eventually fail.
## Maintaining Your AC Capacitor
It’s essential to have your AC unit inspected regularly by a certified technician to ensure that the capacitors are functioning correctly. Having problems detected early will help prevent costly AC repair and extend your unit’s lifespan.
An air conditioning capacitor is a critical component of an AC unit as it provides the necessary electrical charge to start the compressor and fan motor. The lifespan of an AC capacitor can vary depending on environmental and usage factors. It’s important to have your AC unit inspected regularly to ensure that the capacitors are functioning correctly. By doing so, you can prevent costly repairs and maintain the efficiency of your AC unit.