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Hard Start Kits - What are they and do you need one?


A common issue our service technicians come across are failing compressors or a worn-out capacitor. In this video we’ll talk about hard start kits and why they’re important.

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Fire & Ice Heating and Air Conditioning proudly serves Columbus, Ohio and the surrounding areas. Our service area includes Bexley, Blacklick, Canal Winchester, Columbus, Delaware, Dublin, Gahanna, Galena, Galloway, Grandview, Grove City, Hilliard, Lewis Center, New Albany, Obetz, Pataskala, Pickerington, Powell, Reynoldsburg, Sunbury, Upper Arlington, Westerville, Whitehall, and Worthington.

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Video Transcription

Let’s talk hard start kits. What are they? And do you even need one? Stay tuned to find out.

Hi, my name is Jimmy from Fire & Ice. As a service technician I have worked on thousands of HVAC equipment over the years. And one of the most common things I come across is a failing compressor or a worn-out capacitor due to an influx of damaging electricity. One way to avoid this surge of electricity is using hard start kits. In this video we’ll discuss what they are, who should consider them, and go over their cost. By the end of this video, you’ll know whether or not a hard start kit is worth adding to your HVAC system.

What is a hard start kit?

Let’s imagine a merry-go-round for a second. To get started it requires a lot of effort. But once it reaches velocity it’s easy to maintain. We can thank Sir Isaac Newton for that.  Your compressor is similar. It takes a lot of energy, or amperage, to get it running but once it gets going it’s easier to maintain that speed. 

On systems without hard start kits the initial jolt of energy going through the capacitor to the compressor can be a couple seconds. Which, over time can cause a lot of damage if it’s not mitigated. Think about this, during an average cooling season air conditioners run between 3,000 and 5,000 times. And heat pumps can be double that. 

To put it simply, hard start kits are used to help ease the start-up process for air conditioners and heat pumps. Hard start kits are a start capacitor with a potential relay. Which means, it does two things: stores the needed energy until startup and diverts any remaining energy preventing any further damage. So with a hard start kit installed, the energy surge is reduced by as much as 50%. This results in prolonged life of the compressor, better energy efficiency, and helps you to avoid potential costly compressor replacements.

Who should consider a hard start kit?

We recommend hard start kits be installed onto every new non-variable speed air conditioner or heat pump. Why? Because you’ll be seeing the most benefit and longer life of your equipment. However, it can be installed on older systems that have capacitors or compressors showing signs of some issues. Adding a hard start kit to these systems may allow you to get a few extra years out of your system. Now, if you have a variable speed system, on the other hand, a hard start kit is not needed since these systems use a different electrical configuration.

How much does it cost?

Now you might be asking how much does it cost? To have a hard start kit installed on your air conditioner or heat pump expect to pay between $300 and $350. At Fire & Ice our prices include the cost of both parts and labor. For comparison, a compressor replacement can cost $2,500 or more.

Why isn’t it included on new equipment?

But wait, if it’s so inexpensive why aren’t they just included with new equipment. The truth is, it’s not a required part. Your air conditioner and heat pump will work normally without a hard start kit. And manufacturers omit them on purpose because they want to keep their costs down so they can sell more products.

What are the next steps?

I hope by now you have a better understanding of what a hard start kit is and why they play an important role in prolonging the life of an air conditioner or heat pump. If you think your system could use a hard start kit, give us a call. We’d be happy to go over your system and find the best solution for your individual needs. Thank you for watching and we look forward to making your day better.

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