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Old 12-15-2016, 01:08 PM   #1
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AC Hard Start Capacitor

Figuring that I'm getting a little old to climb around on my 5th wheel RV roof, I asked my dealer to put a Hard Start Capacitor in my AC unit.

It's not that I'm having a problem, but I plan to buy a generator and since the unit is in the shop for some other upgrades I thought I'd have one done.

The Service manager (who I trust) called Coleman to verify the part and Coleman told him that all their AC units are now shipped from the factory with hard start capacitors and that my serial number already had one factory installed.

I'm skeptical. I may just have to get up on the roof myself anyway to verify.

Anybody else heard this?
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Old 12-15-2016, 01:17 PM   #2
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I think they come with a capacitor, but it's not very big? I know the vernacular there is not right, but I'm not an electrician.

I was a bit concerned about my generator having enough umph to get my AC going as well, but when I tested it, the genny had no problem getting things going. I may install one anyway (assuming I don't have one of the newer fancy units that already includes one) as they are cheap, and it would be even easier on the genny, and the AC compressor.

For reference, I'm running a Champion Power Equipment 100216 3650W RV Ready Portable Generator. I think that's the one I have in the garage. Anyway, it's not an inverter generator, but it's quiet enough for my purposes (limited use on the road or in "dispersed" camping situation (the beach)).

I'm interested to know what you find out here.
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Old 12-15-2016, 03:06 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BuddyRay View Post
Figuring that I'm getting a little old to climb around on my 5th wheel RV roof, I asked my dealer to put a Hard Start Capacitor in my AC unit.

It's not that I'm having a problem, but I plan to buy a generator and since the unit is in the shop for some other upgrades I thought I'd have one done.

The Service manager (who I trust) called Coleman to verify the part and Coleman told him that all their AC units are now shipped from the factory with hard start capacitors and that my serial number already had one factory installed.

I'm skeptical. I may just have to get up on the roof myself anyway to verify.

Anybody else heard this?
BuddyRay
Have not heard that, but I suspect it could be. I replaced one in my old 2008 Outback and it worked great.

With my 2017 Jayco, there seems to be no strain at all when it starts up. I'll know when I try my Honda 2000i.

Like you, I don't belong on roofs anymore.
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Old 12-15-2016, 04:24 PM   #4
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Can I ask - what's a hard-start cap? I think I've heard of soft-start caps, where the idea is that the cap is charged to lower in the inrush current needs. Is a hard-start capacitor the same thing?
thanks
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Old 12-15-2016, 05:03 PM   #5
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Yes pconroy. There is usually a capacitor on any large motor, including both fans and compressors in AC units.
A hard start capacitor adds a second cap to the compressor to increase capacity and keep the compressor from putting a short term load on a generator.


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Old 12-23-2016, 09:12 AM   #6
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Capacitors

Spent forty years in the HVACR business.
All fan (except shaded pole) motors and compressors use run capacitors. Soft start(PCT) and start capacitors do keep the initial current inrush time to a minimum. The compressors used in RV A/C are for the most part scroll compressors which don't need start assist as they start with equalized pressures on the scroll plate. Only large(4 hp and up) scrolls use start assist capacitors.
Hard start kits use a start capacitor and a relay to switch the start capacitor out of the circuit once the compressor starts.
Gone are reciprocating (piston) compressors which have used start gear consistently.
Soft start won't hurt - just another expense that might not be needed.

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Old 12-23-2016, 09:49 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by BullDozerBob View Post
Spent forty years in the HVACR business.
All fan (except shaded pole) motors and compressors use run capacitors. Soft start(PCT) and start capacitors do keep the initial current inrush time to a minimum. The compressors used in RV A/C are for the most part scroll compressors which don't need start assist as they start with equalized pressures on the scroll plate. Only large(4 hp and up) scrolls use start assist capacitors.
Hard start kits use a start capacitor and a relay to switch the start capacitor out of the circuit once the compressor starts.
Gone are reciprocating (piston) compressors which have used start gear consistently.
Soft start won't hurt - just another expense that might not be needed.

BullDozerBob
Thanks for the info. It's always good to hear from those with actual experience.

Your last sentence, however, left me wondering... If soft start won't hurt, and it might not be needed, will it help (assuming most of us have small scroll compressors)?

Many (most?) of us have 30amp circuits plugged to RV campground outlets or generators. Unlike the power sources we have in our homes etc., frequently those sources are marginal (low voltage in campgrounds is common in hot weather). Under those situations, would having a soft start capacitor be helpful?
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Old 12-23-2016, 12:51 PM   #8
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BullDozerBob,

I also appreciate your expertise.
But there are several posts elsewhere on this forum (search "Hard Start Capacitor") where users have posted experience with running AC units off generators that are very close to the Amps required for the AC. They say their AC would blow the generator breaker until they added a hard start capacitor - then it starts and runs fine on the generator.
Also, both Dometic and Coleman sell hard start capacitors on their parts site. I know because my dealer ordered one from Coleman.
But it's also interesting, because when the service manager called Coleman support to find out where/how to install it, they told him my model "already had a hard start capacitor installed from the factory."
I've never tried running mine off a generator but was planning to buy one next year - that's why I asked my dealer to install the capacitor.

So despite your clear and knowledgeable explanation - not everything adds up.

I'm wondering if older RV's used different type compressors?
Or running on a generator brings special issues?
Or not all RV AC use Scroll compressors?
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Old 12-23-2016, 01:08 PM   #9
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Back to capacitors

I'm in the process of trading in a 2004 25DS Greyhawk with a 4kw Onan. Never have had a problem running the A/C on generator. Issues can arise if the coach has two rooftop a/c's and the microwave running.
Common sense always prevails.
We used to joke in the A/C business that " most thermostat problems were TWO LEGGED"
Best to set the stat at a comfort setting and just leave it alone.
Short cycling a unit can trip breakers-overload a generator.
Good discussion

Thanks

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Old 04-13-2017, 02:32 PM   #10
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Has anyone used this? If so, what were the results?
I am thinking this would be GREAT for boon docking.


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