Product Pick of the Week: Refrigerator Capacitors

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When you reach for the door on your refrigerator, you expect it to be cold inside.  But have you ever wondered how it gets that way?  We’ve talked about a few parts that help with this in the past like the Start Relay, the Overload, the Evaporator Fan Motor, the Compressor…the list goes on (you can read about those here).  But one important part that we haven’t talked about yet is the Capacitor.  Without this one little part the Compressor doesn’t know to start, leaving you with a warm fridge and that’s why we’ve made it our Pick of the Week.


How it Works


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In general, the Capacitor in your refrigerator will consist of two or more conductors separated by some form of an insulator.  In most refrigerators this part looks like a black box with two prongs sticking out of the side (pictured left) or a cylinder with two or more prongs coming out of the top.

The Capacitor stores electric charge.  When the refrigerator starts to get too warm, the Capacitor discharges sending a signal to the compressor system or motor that it needs to start to run and cool things down.

As you can imagine, you’ll usually find the Capacitor near the Compressor and on some models it will be mounted right with the Start Relay and Overload.


Signs It’s Time for a Replacement


20106054_sA few common signs that your Capacitor has failed are that your refrigerator is too warm or you don’t hear the Compressor running.  On some models you can test this part yourself using an Ohm-meter.   Before doing this you’ll want to first unplug your refrigerator and leave it for at least 30 minutes so the Capacitor has some time to discharge.

Be sure to consult your user manual for any specific instructions and the recommended reading.  If you do find that it needs to be replaced, you can find the Capacitor for your refrigerator on our website using your model number or the part number if you have it.

On other models, this is a job best left to the professionals.  Because a Capacitor’s job is to hold charge, sometimes there can be dangerous levels of current still present long after the appliance has been unplugged.  On these models, the Capacitor needs to be manually discharged which can be very dangerous and should only be performed by a trained service technician to avoid injury.


We hope you enjoyed this post!  If you did be sure to like it and share it with a friend.  If you have any questions, tips, or personal experiences please feel free to leave them for us in the comments.  You can find the Capacitor for your Refrigerator along with many other parts all on our website.

Written by: Sarah Walker

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