CONFUSED: hard start replacement on A/C unit


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Old 04-11-08, 09:23 AM
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CONFUSED: hard start replacement on A/C unit

I had an HVAC come to the house to tune up my AC unit.

He said the hard starter was bad. The part he brought out to put on was a Kickstart KS1 (3.5 - 5 ton max torque). The model of my system is Lennox HS21-651-1P.

After he replaced it he said the compressor 'sounded' bad and that he thought it would need to be replaced... He told me I should buy a new condensor because replacing compressors are so expensive and you lose out on the warranty. He left after taking out the new hard starter and telling me that I should replace my unit ($3000). I told him I'd have to think about it.

My question is this... Can I replace the hard starter and let the AC unit run with a 'bad sounding' compressor until it finally gives out? I'm assuming I'll have to replace the condensor eventually but if it will continue working for a while with a new hard starter than I'd rather the interim fix for now. So, in other words, was that guy trying to get a sale by telling me the compressor is going bad or can I get away with replacing the hard starter and waiting for the inevitable?

Thanks in advance for your help!
 
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Old 04-11-08, 03:45 PM
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A hard start kit is not a normal operating part and is usually installed when the normal run capacitor will no longer provide enough starting power.
It is highly likely that your compressor is failing and it would be hard to predict how long it would last.

I use them myself but am careful that the customer knows it may only be a temporary fix and can not guarantee the compressor will last longer than it takes to drive down the street.
If the compressor is noisy however it might not make sense to go this route.
 
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Old 04-11-08, 08:23 PM
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A hard start can be normal for a unit, some come shipped with small versions of them and at least one manufacturers (brand is escaping me but I'm sure the boss will remind me next time we install one of those condensers) won't warranty thier condenser without a hardstart on it. (how they would prove this is another story)

...could it die tomorrow or next week? Hightly likely. Also just as likely it will grind and groan because it is tired and old for another 1 to x years before the valves blow out or it shorts to ground or the vanes on it shatter. Who knows?

I've put hard starts on units and they've died 3 days later, I've put hard starts on other units and they've lasted years. Others will kill the hard start a year or so later and another one will drag the beater out for a bit longer.

3k isn't too bad though. Probably wouldn't hurt to see if the evap coil needs cleaned too if you do that.

...anyway I'd try a hardstart first and then start saving my pennies NOW. Better your plan when to replace it instead of it choosing the time! I'd switch to a different AC company too, if the guy left you without ac by pulling the new hard start back out even though it was running then he is trying to sell you the unit :/
..just my opinion...

Michael
 
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Old 04-12-08, 08:36 AM
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Thanks both to Greg and Mike! Replacing the hard start is a much cheaper option to start with. I've prepared myself that the new hard start COULD or COULD NOT keep the compressor running much longer. I'll try to find myself a new A/C guy when the whole thing needs to be replaced.

So do you guys believe in Kickstart hard starters or is there another brand that's better?

Thank you!
 
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Old 04-12-08, 09:22 AM
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The ones I am familiar with are all pretty much the same.
Where they differ is in the amount of power they apply to the start winding, which relates to the size of the start capacitor in the booster unit.

One down side to start boosters is that they allow the compressor to run when they really shouldn't.
You will get some basic protection with the winding sensor but I tend to see more dirty burnouts or mechanical breakup when they are used.
They do not always offer the benefits we would like.
 
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Old 04-12-08, 09:47 AM
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Wink

Did I miss it ??? Dont see how old is this compressor unit???
If to try and save it or not and just what is wrong with it???
Like said Id also say a start kit can be good and bad. You just cant tell at first. Then we have start kits that are say just a kicker to help start is about all. They do help some . Then we have a full start kit. They have a full combination
potential relay and a start capacitor in them. One year all the new compressors units we put in . They started to blow fuses. Come to find out it was the windings in the compressors. The company sent out the full start kits with a potential that we put on them. There are many of them still running today.
Id get me a new AC tech there for sure.
 
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Old 04-12-08, 10:18 AM
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I'm assuming that the compressor unit is 12 yrs old, the same age as the house. The technician said that the coils look like they had been replaced on the inside unit in the attic. The only thing the technician said about the compressor is that it 'sounded bad.' He actually showed me that the old hard starter wasn't reading whatever capacity (i think) it should be, whereas the new hard starter would. (I appreciated this demonstration). After he replaced it he said the compressor 'sounded bad' and should be replaced... "but why replace just the compressor when we could put a whole new unit in here for almost the same price with a longer warranty?" was his next comment. Bottom line is, if my compressor actually is shot, then I'll probably just go ahead and replace the whole outside unit, considering its age. But if I can get a new hard starter in there and it runs for another 6 months, then awesome! My thoughts are to try a new hard starter, but I want to make sure it's the right one. I'm no HVAC technician, but to replace the old one looks like a pretty simple job. I just want to make sure the new one I replace is compatible with my system.

I've copied this info from the outside unit...
The model of my system is Lennox HS21-651-1P
factory charge - 13lbs, 14 oz
electrical rating - 1PH 60Hz
compressor - 1 PH 30.8 RLA 141 LRA min ckt ampacity 40.2
design pressure - 278 hi psig, 144 lo psig
nominal - 208/230 V
fan motor - 1PH 1.7FLA 1/4 hp
max fuse or ckt bkr - 60

Like I said, the hard starter he put on (and then took off) was the Kickstart KS1
3.5 to 5 Ton Max Torque
The website description says about this product...
"FOR ALL METERING DEVICES
For Single Phase 208V, 230V, 265V A/C, Refrigeration & Heat Pump Compressors"

So my question is, will this kickstart KS1 be compatible with my system? He said it was 5 ton, although I see no markings that say it is. Is there anything else I need to consider before ordering this part or can I assume that this product would have been the right one all along?

Thanks guys, you have been so helpful!
 
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Old 04-12-08, 12:23 PM
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Yes, that starter will work.
They are universal and use a solid state relay that works on units of capacities that are shown on the package.

Like I said, keep in mind that you could cause more problems if the compressor breaks up and emits contaminants into the system.
In other words it could cost you more to replace the outdoor unit if you get a dirty burn out.
 
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Old 04-14-08, 06:07 PM
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I would only add one thing. I would only use the correct start capacitor and potential relay on this system, not a "kicker". Correctly sized, these components deliver proper torque on startup without excessive amp draw. It is even more important if your system has an expansion valve. Your supplier can select the correct components using the COMPRESSOR model number.
 
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Old 04-19-08, 06:49 AM
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Hmm... Say that I wasn't using a supplier?... I just ordered a part on Ebay. Does anyone have the ability to look up the info? I haven't installed it yet.

The hard starter I got was a Kickstart KS1 - 3.5-5 ton max torque (this is the one the A/C guy was going to install - I assumed that it was the correct one, but I suppose we all know what happens when we assume)

The model of my system is Lennox HS21-651-1P.

Anyone have any idea if this part has the correct start capacitor and potential relay for my system?
 
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Old 04-19-08, 08:01 AM
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There is a bit of confusion in terminology.

In my neck of the woods a "hard start kit" is an add on accessory that is meant to assist the mfr installed run capacitor only starting system.

It is confusing when a potential relay and start capacitor is installed by the mfr because this is not truly a "hard start kit".
It is considered to be the manufacturer installed starting components.

The KS-1 is meant for 3.5 - 5 ton units.
If your is 3.5 - 5 tons of cooling capacity it is the correct one.so it would work.
If your a/c is not 3.5 - 5 tons it is not the correct one.

Again, keep in mind this is still only a temporary fix.

Let us know how it works.
 
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Old 04-19-08, 10:35 AM
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Searched your model and it appears to be a five ton unit.
 
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Old 04-21-08, 05:18 PM
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Ok... good and bad news...

I installed the hard start kit and it got the compressor running, however, it shut off after almost 30 seconds. The lights on 4 and 2 of the diagnostic code panel were lit after it stopped (they aren't lit up in the picture). I included a picture of both the wiring schematic and the diagnostic code panel. I'm not sure what these diagnostic lights are indicating. Anyone have the expertise? Have any suggestions? Insight? I really appreciate it.
 
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Old 04-21-08, 05:34 PM
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Old 04-29-08, 07:08 AM
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So I had an electrically inclined friend of mine come over to check the wiring and the schematic of my hard start replacement. It turned out that one wire was out of place based on the schematic... It wasn't one that I had replaced so I'm not sure how long it was like that (since the last technician or earlier?) We reconnected in the right place and VIOLA! The AC worked for about 2 hours! Once it had cooled down the house to the thermostat temperature, it never came back on. We cut power and it started again, but stopped shortly after and displayed the same error message as before the wire replacement. I got my hands on the manual and now know that the diagnostic error code means "hot compressor <5 min (or open sensor)."

In your infinite wisdom... Does this hot compressor error generally mean that the compressor is going bad? The manual states that it could be an open sensor, or a problem with the voltage or current delivered to the compressor.
The two-speed control would detect if there was too much resistance running through the sensors and then might cause the unit to default and shut off. Is this sometimes a problem in the controller? the sensors? or most often the compressor?

I appreciate the need to get a new condenser unit if the problem cannot be resolved with a more simple (or cheaper) fix. I just hope to be educated enough to make sure I don't get sucked into a new unit when it's not necessary.

You guys have been so helpful and I appreciate it tremendously!

Please let me know if you have any feedback for me. Thanks!
 
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Old 04-29-08, 09:51 AM
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The problem has been identified... FINALLY!

The unit is two-speed.

The compressor works in high speed

The compressor fails in low speed - failed or bad windings

The temporary fix is to have the low speed disabled and always utilize high pressure... until the high pressure compressor goes out... then it's new condenser time!
 
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Old 04-23-13, 07:25 PM
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putting a hard start on a two speed compressor damages the compressor, IE causing it to only run in high speed, the factory says to never put one on a high seer system. contact factory for total explaination.
 
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Old 04-23-13, 07:44 PM
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Thanks for the input Merlin but since that was five years ago..... I'm sure bp had to replace his compressor.
 
 

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