Product Pick of the Week: Start Relays & Overloads


We’re back with another installment of our Product Pick of the Week series.  Each week, we select an appliance part, part category, or product and talk a little about it.  This week’s pick goes out to the Refrigerator Start Relay and Overload.  In today’s post we’ll explain how the Start Relay and Overload work and share a few common signs that they may need to be replaced.

What are they?

Typically located in the lower portion of the back of your refrigerator, the Start Relay and Overload work with the Compressor to help regulate the current until it gets up to speed and prevents it from reaching dangerous levels.


Whirlpool Relay & Overload – Part #12002782

Depending on the model refrigerator you have, the Start Relay and Overload will either be two separate components or will sometimes be combined as an Overload Relay and you can usually find this duo plugged right into the side of the Compressor.

How it works

When your refrigerator starts to get warm, the Thermostat sends a signal to the Start Relay to start the Compressor so it can cool things down again.  The Start Relay helps to speed up the process a bit by starting the Compressor Windings until the Compressor reaches the correct speed.

On older models, the Start Relay will actually use wrapped copper wire and will open and close to adjust to the level of current.  On newer models instead of actual wire, the Start Relay is instead made of a special material that changes resistance depending on the level of current.

The Overload is a safety device and really doesn’t do much when your refrigerator is running right. If your Start Relay ever malfunctions and the current passing through to the compressor reaches unsafe levels, the Overload will make a loud *click* as it cuts off power to the Compressor.

Signs it’s time for a replacement

A common sign that there’s a problem with your Start Relay is that your refrigerator is warmer than it should be and is making the clicking noise we mentioned above every few minutes.  This is because the compressor is unable to run.   If this happens for too long, it can overheat and burn out the Overload.

Refrigerator Model Locator
If you find that you do need to replace the Start Relay or Overload in your refrigerator (or the Overload Relay depending on the model), you can find the OEM replacement for your specific refrigerator model here: Relays and Overloads | Refrigerator Parts.

Not sure what model refrigerator you have?  You can usually find the model tag in one of a few places: the inside wall of the door, the back of the fridge, behind the kickplate, or behind the crisper drawer.

We hope you enjoyed this post!  If you found it helpful and would like to see more posts like this one be sure to check out our blog each week for our pick or check out our pasts picks here: Product Picks of the Week.  Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe and feel free to leave any questions, comments, or recommendations for future posts below.

Written by: Sarah Walker


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.