How much does capacitor cost?

house_first_timerJune 25, 2008

Our townhome a/c unit was not working, so I put in a service call. This morning, the tech came and replaced the capacitor in 15 minutes and he's done. The service call is $65 but he charged for me $150 for the capacitor. I just looked up the capacitor online, I'm not at home right now, it seems to me that the capacitor costs around $20-$40 range. If they charge double, I'm ok with it but charging triple or quadruple the price, this is just crazy. Just curious is it just me or they overcharged me for the capacitor?

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mr_havac

Sorry, you got screwed bigtime!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 10:18PM
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zl700

You didnt mention where you live.

NYC or LA and it in line

MN, OH, PA, ..... and it shouldn't be over $150 total service call

($65.00 trip, service and diagnostic charge, $18 cap x 500%)

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 10:55PM
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house_first_timer

I'm in chicagoland area. I knew I got ripped off, that's why I want to confirm it here. I'm going to call them tomorrow and ask if there's a price mistake. Of course they will say no and I will tell them straight in their face that I know that they screw me off. I might file a complaint with BBB even though this won't help much.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 11:03PM
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zl700

Inside Chicago is expensive too!

Won't hurt to call and give them a chance to adjust though!

If they made you aware of their service call charge and later the repair charge for which you agreed, it will be tough.

If they fixed and then presented the bill, you have a leg to stand on.

Flat Rate pricing was developed in Chicago. While making lots of money, or fair money for some contractors, it gave the option to fix or not fix to the consumer after agreeing to pay the service and diagnostic fee.

To the PHVACR contractors, not to start a fight, no doubt there are +s & -s to flat rate pricing.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 11:23PM
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house_first_timer

I don't mind the service call charge which I asked before I scheduled the appt. I didn't know what's wrong with my ac, that's why they came out to diagnose it, that's the fee they earn. But then the tech told me he needs to replace the capacitor, i said ok. He replaced it and billed me, that's whem I found out it's $155 just for the part.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 11:26PM
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zl700

Price to replace should have been quoted up front afer diagnosis.

Then you decide to fix

If not, tech walks away with $65 payment and you think you know whats wrong to call someone else for less?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 11:37PM
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house_first_timer

No, he didn't give the price quote, he just went ahead and replaced it and billed me. I will call tomorrow and talk to the manager or owner and see if they want to make it right, if not, BBB will contact them.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 11:49PM
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fred47

How much is too much? Trip charge $55.00, Capacitor $203.95 tax $8.25 total..$267.20. Twenty mins of work. I feel your pain.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 3:16PM
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losangeles

I know its a long review but i want people to know the details. I called becuase my ac wasn't working. the air was blowing in the house but the fan outside wasn't spinning. i called a couple places for a service check and this place was the cheapest $45. the service guy came by took the cover off of the unit and used a volt meter to check the capacitor (5min of work). He says the capacitor is bad and needs to be replaced, the cost is $325 dollars. I knew that was a very steep price so i ask if he could do it any cheaper. He was very courteous about it and said no its a flat rate charge and thats the price. I had been looking online at diffrent parts and i rememberd that capacitors were cheap, aprox. $20-60 dollars. the total time it takes to change out is about 5min. the capacitor is easy to acess and its two screws and 4 wires. it takes longer to change out a car battery which by the way is around 20 dollars labor. So i ask well how much is the part mabe its a special capacitor (flux perhaps? i duno) he says the part is $200 dollars.. mmmm.... i think to myself..... $325 dollars???? $200 for the part $125 labor for 10min of easy work? thats still to much even if the part costs that much. I cant shell over that much for that easy of a job. ill do it myself . So i tell him no thanks and he had no problem with that. he even hooked my old one back up so that i can see were the wires hooked up. i paid him the $45 bucks and that was that. next thing i do is look up the exact capcitor online and its $41 dollars brand new with shipping or $55 dollars from a local part shop!! wow!! this guy tried bending me over... how many people pay that much for so little of work and product??? A lot!!! Minus the cost of the part ($40 dollars im sure he gets it even cheaper than this) he would have walked away with around $285 dollars for about 1 hour of easy work including drive time. Thats more than some doctors, lawyers, and phycologists charge. I ended up changing it myself. It took my about 1 hour including drive time to the part store and installation. total cost to me 60 bucks for the part w/tax, 45 bucks for the service call.... grand total $105 dollars.... i saved $220 dollars by doing this myself. The guy lied to me about the cost of the part. i know he is trying to make a living and thats the norm for these type of business, but with the internet we people can do a little research and figure out what it really costs. Do your research!!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 6:04PM
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freckles57_gmail_com

We have a 6-Year Old 14i Seer Trane,and I noticed the house was becoming warmer than usual. I checked the thermostat and it was registering 79 with setting of 76. I could hear the A/C running inside but the compressor/fan was NOT running on the outside. I shut it down for 30 mins and tried again..same thing. Left unit off all night and called an A/C company next morning. Explained the situation over the phone with a tech and the service was immediate (or in the area). Took him 15 mins to diagnose the problem with an "exploded Capacitor" and I would be up and running very shortly. I thought, great nothing major! Until 20 mins. later after the tech was done with the repair, he explained how he had to use a particular kind of Capacitor because I had a "Dual Motor" and could not use the Universal one. Then I asked him to check the freon; it was low and he added a few pounds. After a total of 45 minutes, he presented me with a bill in the amount of $338.99 which broken down, it was 228.99 for the part (including tax) and 110.00 for the labor and he said he was not charging me for the freon. I had a coupon for a "free Service Call" (valued @ 65.00) and wasn't going to use it until I saw how much it cost! I totally surprised the tech and he recalculated the amount due which came to $273.99 (reducing labor to 45.00 instead of 110.00). After doing my research exploring the "cost" of a Capacitor, I was told the part wholesale would have been 75.00 and the freon is running around 18.00/lb

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 1:44PM
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dap63

It's good to know someone in the business. Made a call 2 night's ago. Upstair's unit was not cooling. I was told they would be out asap. My buddy came out tonight after a long day and replace the capacitor for $100.00 at 10:30 at night. Freinds are priceless.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 1:22AM
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j_brown1964_att_net

Last night,just like you'lls earlier posts,Vents are blowing ,but outside units fan and compressor was not running.I can hear the fan humming and the compressor would kick,so I knew the problem was in the fan motor.I killed the power and made some calls. A friend told me that it was my capacitor and how to de-energize it by touching the posts with a screwdriver(from post to post).I had two problems with what I was supposed to do.After i removed the capacitor,it was rusted so bad you could'nt get any information from it and I did'nt own a Volt meter to insure that the capacitor was de-energized.The A\C place would'nt sell me a new one without HVAC certification.Long story short is that while we gripe about what we paid for someone to fix our problem,are we able to,and if so ,do we have the correct tools for the job.I paid 184.00,45.00 for the trip,and 139.00 for parts and labor.It hurt the pocket book ,but the guy changed the capacitor,cleaned the coils,checked the compressor with his meter,and checked the temperature at the vents and the return vent for comparison.It could have been worse.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 12:56PM
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derrickcando

Well i just had another capacitor installed. the repair guy came out 2 weeks ago when my unit wasnt working, he ran to his truck and had a used capacitor. he put it in and it worked. He charged me 125.00. but i only had 100.00 so he took it. I had no idea what they cost.
So today i get home and my downstairs unit is not working again so i call another HVAC guy who serviced my unit 2 years ago. He opened the unit and the first thing we both saw, the capacitor was swollen. He replaced it and the unit came right on. He charged me 70.00. he didn't charge a service call but he also looked at 2 of my neighbors units that were not working. If you need him and you are in Georgia, metro Atlanta let me know... he was fair being that the capacitor only cost 25.00.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 8:23PM
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skilb

Hi Derrickcando- Do you still have the contact info for the guy who replaced your AC capacitor? I am in Metro Atl and I think I need mine replaced nd need someone I can trust for a fair price. Thanks!!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 6:58PM
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derrickcando

Hey skilb.. yes i do have the guys name... and number.. he just came out about a week ago and repaired my upstairs unit. I had a short in it and he repaired it for 65.00.. this guy is the best and he is very fair..Randal @770-855-9419...
call him and tell him Derrick said to call.
good luck

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 10:10PM
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FairHvac

From a seasoned Hvac Vet-the prices are normal in the business. There is overhead & you are paying for a specialty and the techs knowledge. The capacitor will actually be around $15-$20 cost & some are cheaper but you are paying for the troubleshooting. The techs in the trade have to stay current on licensing, federal EPA & local regs. They also have to be knowledgeable in oil heat, heat pumps, duct work, AC, gas heat, plumbing, refrigeration, welding and any tech worth his salt is a guru in electricity. Some companies are overpriced but have great techs that have the experience to demand 40 an hour.

In 2006 the federal government raised the minimum SEER rating allowable for new installs & also put a stop to refrigerants containing chlorine. After these two actions the HVAC equipment & part manufacturers doubled the prices of equipment. The reason for that is the larger systems to handle the higher SEER rating & the higher efficiency. You must be licensed to purchase refrigerant & it is very expensive.

I personally charge $150-$200 for a capacitor (total, no service fees). Anyone can say it's unfair & you could buy it online but the tech is there to pinpoint the issue & repair it safely. Capacitors can explode and also hold a charge when the power is off. Replacement without experience can be dangerous and could further damage the AC if done incorrectly.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 11:20PM
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jonereb

I was quoted $52 to replace a capacitor. I'm in a suburb of Memphis, TN in Mississippi. I'm having my system checked and cleaned literally as I type. Came on line to check capacitor costs, etc.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 9:24AM
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daddo

You were overcharged for the part for sure.
The normal markup may be x2 or x3- depending on the parts.
Understand that some capacitors are made in Asia and some in the USA and the USA made parts cost twice compared to the Asian markets, yet USA capacitors are far better quality and many will have a 5 year warranty instead of a 1 year warranty. Just looking up a part online may not give you the value your looking for and don't forget shipping costs.
Keep in mind that HVAC companies are faced with many regulations and laws and tax burdens we hadn't in years past as well as the rise in expenses of just staying in business. I'm sure everyone has been affected and notice this.
In many areas of the country, what you paid would be considered normal, some areas unthinkable.
A $65.00 call should include checking the freon, rinsing off the outdoor coil if it was dirty, doing a quick drain check and an overall look to make sure everything else was safe and operating well. The cost of the capacitor may better have been cost x2.5 for a quality USA capacitor and at least a 3 year warranty. The markup on the parts is actually insurance that the part will last and cover the part for a warranty replacement- a gamble like any insurance purchased.
He should have advised you of the cost beforehand and by law, you have 3 days to change your mind, but the service call is still valid.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 2:09PM
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saltidawg

"A $65.00 call should include checking the freon, rinsing off the outdoor coil if it was dirty, doing a quick drain check and an overall look to make sure everything else was safe and operating well."

Not for anywhere near $65 in this neck of the woods - MD suburbs of DC.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 2:19PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Yes, I got slightly ripped off for a capacitor replacement too. It's just part of the industry schtick. When you can't live in your house, they have you by the you-know-whats. At least my servicer put in the stock Carrier part and a booster cap.

Obviously with the expensive collegiate education my parents paid for which included getting an A in 2 semesters of physics I can understand how to safely test and replace an electrolytic cap and will never pay for it again. (and in fact I have done it on a couple audio amplifiers since electrolytic caps are the most likely to fail in old electronics) So in my case it's a pyrrhic victory for the contractor. Still I didn't hold it against the guy, he showed up the day after I called him, on time, and seemed to spend a fair amount of time evaluating the unit, tested the pressure, etc. It's just ridiculous to pay that much to replace a part that just involves unplugging something and plugging something else in. I might buy a stand by unit to have around just in case. Lytics really ought to be polarized once in a while but even one a few years in storage will still work for a while if the installed one dies.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 1:49PM
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ajchicago69

I live in Elk Grove, Ca (suburb of Sacramento). Had a similar experience. I diagnosed and replaced the capacitor about a year or less ago. Then one day, about a year later, the fan was blowing, but the compressor would not kick in. I figured that it couldn't be the capacitor again as it was still "new", so I didn't even meter it. Duh! Bad decision. Called a service highly rated on Yelp. $80 for a service call. Was watching him work with his son and I stated that it shouldn't be the capacitor as I had just replaced it. He said, "Well it's testing bad, but since you replaced it yourself then you know what they cost. If you want to replace it then we'll just finish the service call and charge you just for the service call." I said, "You bet!", thinking that here was an honest guy. Then I asked him what he would charge me for the same capacitor that I could buy locally for $45. He told me "$225 on top of the $80 service call"... $305. What a racket. Then I got the "overhead" sob story about being a "business" with people in the office and 6 people working for him in the field. Bull! His overhead is buying a new house, a new car, and new golf clubs! This is their "bread and butter" call. The one that accounts for the bulk of their revenue, ripping off people with a smile and a handshake. Just don't forget to pull the breaker at the unit or at the main electric panel for the house and then short HERM to COMMON and FAN to COMMON to drain any charge still in the capacitor before removing it. Good luck finding a local place to sell you a capacitor. I could only find one in the Sacramento area who would sell to me. Most say they will only sell to licensed contractors. They are available online, but who wants to wait days? They seem to go out when you need them the most... on a stretch of really hot days when they are working hard. For $45 I am considering a spare, but this one may last 10 years. You never know what you are getting. These are from Mexico and I don't know if they are any different than one manufactured here or in China.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 9:45PM
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Rubline

I bought and installed a 2 motor cap (45/5) in 15 min. Cap (GE) cost me 45 bucks at an HVAC supply house.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2014 at 6:25PM
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