SHOP PRODUCTS
Houzz Logo Print
webuser_210544714

Overamping and hard start kits

jimmy w
12 days ago

I have a 3 y/o Lennox two-stage, split system HVAC unit that works well, Parts are warranted for ten years. The vendor performs two inspections (cooling/heating) annually. Each year, they reported that my system's inrush was overamping by about 10 amps. The techs advised that the overamping will hasten the failure of my compressor, and suggested that I authorize the installation of a hard start kit. They quoted a price of $600.


While I can do average homeowner electrical work, I'm not an electrician or an HVAC tech. However, I did some research that included discussions with HVAC techs. It seems that I would need a 5-2-1 hard start kit, which I could buy for about $30. The installation looks very simple, though I'd call a tech to do it, and I suspect it would take about 20 minutes.


So, what's the deal? Do I really need one of these, and if so, isn't $600 way out of line? I imagien a tech would charge $100-$150.

Comments (31)

  • klem1
    12 days ago

    "System's inrush over ramping by about 10 amps" doesn't tell me a thing. "IF" he's saying LRA is 10 amps above rating plate,what is the exact supply volts to unit AND is there a significant voltage drop during start up? Do lights in your house dim during start up? What is time lapse of LRA and how does that compare to mfgrs time allowance?

    Have you considered a written discussion with Lennox? If unit needs a hard start it is either malfunctioning or should have included one from factory. Car manufactures routinely pay dealers to replace or add parts deemed necessary after the fact,why not hvac mfgrs? Must I repeat "written" and why? Did tech give you a written report including diagnostics which say hard start kit is needed? Include report with correspondence with Lennox. If you haven't received written report ,ask vendor's office for a detailed report and carefully notice their reaction. Can you see where this is going?

    What you are asking is equivalent to asking how an amateur can level the field of play against a pro Vegas poker player. The greenest tech in town can out bs average homeowners.

    I can't say yea or nay based on info you have furnished.

  • jimmy w
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    Thanks, I understnd your point. The report stated that the "inrush was overamping on startup," and that an HSK was offered to me. It seems that the he could have said it was the LRA. The previous tech did refer to the LRA when he said the same thing. The label has the LRA at 109.0, but the measured amps were 118 last time. Each tech said that the LRA is a function of the power supply provided by the utility, Nevada Energy, and is not the fault of the unit. AFAIK, the incoming voltage is adequate, but I have to check into that. The lights don't dim at all when the system starts. I am going to ask questions!

  • Related Discussions

    original Toro PP hard start

    Q

    Comments (14)
    re: Gas should not be dripping down anywhere. If it is from the primer bulb or the carb you need to have it rebuilt. That may solve your problem. The toro dealer told me to remove the filter and look in there for a little hole. They said I should see gas shooting thru the hole when I hit the primer bulb. I do. Re: My theory is the needle & seat in the carb is leaking. This allows gasoline to enter the crankcase and dilute the oil, which is BAAAAD! I don't smell any gas but it could just be my nose. If this is the problem, has it caused permanant damage? How hard is it to get to the carb. I have repalced the needle, seat etc on my snowblower....is this a homeowner job?
    ...See More

    hard starts for heatpump/AC compressors

    Q

    Comments (2)
    we re-used the old-Wip that connected the disconnect to the old-outdoor unit because it looked like new. We replaced the disconnect with a new one because it looked it was old looking. When it starts, it doesn't always do that. Maybe only if it hasn't started in a while. The old unit definitely didn't do the noisy startup. It was r-22 though. I can't remember if if would ever dim the lights to be honest. It may. The dimming of the lights isn't a terribly big deal. It doesn't always happen, and when it does its a quick dim. I guess mainly concerned about the occaisionally noisy startups. Wasn't sure if this was good for the equipment.
    ...See More

    Hard Start Kit for Air Conditioner

    Q

    Comments (1)
    Sorry I posted this twice, didn't see the first one.
    ...See More

    John Deere hard starting

    Q

    Comments (4)
    since the engine started on the ether, the problem is probably not related to the ignition system. Fuel in the carburetor float bowl has probably evaporated and the fuel pump is not able to replenish during cranking speeds. Air is drawn in the fuel line - probably around clamped connections around the fuel filter or the connections to the fuel pump. Is this a pulse pump? The pulse line to the fuel pump may have deteriorated. some of these had a rubber bushing on the valve cover for the engine breather. When these connections deteriorated, the fuel pump may not receive an adequate pulse at cranking speeds. Old fuel may not vaporize easily. Neither will summer fuel exposed to colder temperatures. Ethanol fuel may contain some water. Low engine compression can be a factor good suggestions from tomplum. A dealer should recognize most of the issues mentioned.
    ...See More
  • jimmy w
    Original Author
    11 days ago

    Thanks. Yes, they try to sell me stuff every time they do the Fall/Spring service. I went for the deal through which I pay $16/month, which also gives me a discount on any needed service calls. They pushed the HSK when they came out for the very first service 6 months after I bought the system. During this recent visit, in addition to the HSK, the tech suggested new contacts and digital ones too, a microprocessor, a bower wheel cleaning, a surge protector, and an ionizer. All for a few thousand bucks.

  • mike_home
    11 days ago
    last modified: 11 days ago

    Each tech said that the LRA is a function of the power supply provided by the utility, Nevada Energy, and is not the fault of the unit.

    The current flow into the condenser is a function of the voltage level, and the load of the condenser. If each tech is confident the condenser load is correct, then you need to call Nevada Energy immediately and tell them the voltage level to your house is too high. I am skeptical this is the actual problem. You can buy an inexpensive volt meter and check the level yourself.

    This HVAC company is looking to make money from you. You are paying $192 a year so you get a discount on preventative maintenance every 6 months. But that is not good enough and want to charge you $600 to do a 5 - 10 minute installation of a $30 hard start kit. Tell the next tech you don't want any of these services and the next time you are asked you will be looking for a new HVAC company.

  • PRO
    Austin Air Companie
    10 days ago

    They pushed the HSK when they came out for the very first service 6 months after I bought the system.


    So because they installed the system ( I suspect is the reason you chose them for the service?) You are more or less tied to this company thru that.


    Kind of puts you in a not so good spot. Why did you select them to do the install? Was it because of the so called "deal" they offered you?


    Not saying you can't go out and find a different HVAC contractor, but that contractor isn't likely to cut you any break for a system they did not install.


    This is why deal of the century's fall apart. All of it is intertwined, once they've sold you the system makes it *sometimes* cost more to break from them. (If you can find a company willing to take over where they've been cut off from.)


    This is why the common theme on this board and others get 3 or more estimates, yada, yada, yada can put you / your household in a precarious spot. These companies know they are competing with others and they also know the bottom line number is all most anyone concerns themselves with until after the unit is sold and installed.


    So maybe you deal with them for a few more years train yourself to say no to their recommendations. If you do have trouble / that needs their help to solve then you still have someone that will hopefully honor the warranty contract you should have without any fan fare that the system hasn't been maintained etc.


    In the meantime maybe start looking for a new provider that will take over where they left off. Even then you may find those not so much better either. As most HVAC companies these days are set up this way. You've trained them to be set up this way because of the deal mentality. We only want to buy something if it's a deal. (It's only about the money)


    Don't get me wrong here, you can pay more and get less too. So it's a fine line to say the least. I just tell you of my experience 30 years going behind others who've sold these *deals*


    I always get the response after asking the homeowner how, what and why? Oh yeah we got a really good deal on this system. Ok so then why am I here now? (well we couldn't get so and so, lost his number, they moved, they fell off the face of the earth... list what ever excuse you can imagine.)


    Remember: Truth is stranger than fiction. It should not be this way... but in my experience this is how it usually goes. Jimmy W, I hope you find an equitable way out without too much trouble.


    I service the Katy, Texas area.

    jimmy w thanked Austin Air Companie
  • jimmy w
    Original Author
    9 days ago

    Yes, I chose them for service because they were the vendor. They're one of the major Lennox dealers in the Vegas area and they gave me a good price on my unit. Actually, I had problems with the system right off, and they put in a new compressor after repeated service calls. Short of getting references from other purchasers, there's not much one can do to ensure good service.


    I am going to look for another Lennox dealer, as they all should honor the warranty, according to Lennox. And I did call Lennox about this whole business, and got nowhere. The rep did say that a HSK likely was unnecessary (and foolish) on a new system with a 10-year warranty. Lennox won't intervene on behalf of a consumer (this will be my last Lennox product), and I can leave a very negative review on Google about the vendor - they're very mindful of their reputation and solicit good reviews.


    However, in the end, the system is working very well. Once I find a new servicer, I hope my service experience improves. This forum has been extremely helpful.

  • mike_home
    9 days ago

    If you feel good about the service you are getting, then perhaps you should not fire the current HVAC company. You are experiencing what is known as up selling. It is a way to make additional money after the sale of the product. Car dealer service reps do this all the time. Just state you are not interested in any of these additional services especially those which may cause more harm than good.

  • jimmy w
    Original Author
    9 days ago

    Thanks. The maintenance service has been ok. I understand up-selling, but it seems more like an unethical practice when the vendor pushes an unnecessary product based upon an assertion that my unit will fail prematurely (twice as soon) if I don't buy an extremely overpriced service.

  • jimmy w
    Original Author
    9 days ago

    The LRA spec for my unit is 109 anps, per the label. My vendor finally told be that the tech measured it as 124 amps, hence the overamping finding.

  • klem1
    9 days ago

    First it was " overamping about 10 amps" and now it has morphed to 15 amps.

    AND the supply voltage is WHAT and what is supply voltage at contactor during start? Any voltage drops between panel in and contactor? Does "finally told me" mean all this wasn't in a written report? You stated earlier you can do average homeowner electrical , checking all this for yourself is as basic as it gets. What seems to be hold you up?

  • jimmy w
    Original Author
    9 days ago

    In fairness, he might've said 15, but he didn't show me the reading, and his report didn't mention it. So, I called the head of the tech unit, and he said the reading was 124. He said that they normally don't measure any voltage settings, for some reason that I don't really understand. The report includes a bunch of pics of meter reading, like the sample I attached. I have no idea of what this example is measuring. I'd be happy to attach the report, which I would redact to remove any names, if that's allowed on this forum.




  • klem1
    8 days ago

    No there's no need to post the report here. I keep mentioning report as facts appear,vanish and evolve. Point being reports are supposed to be written rather than passed down through word of mouth. I'm visually challenged but to me there seems to be a decimal in the reading above but either way I'm clueless to what it represents. There's no way we can give you something to hang a hat on.

  • sktn77a
    8 days ago
    last modified: 8 days ago

    "If (a new) unit needs a hard start it is either malfunctioning or should have included one from factory. "

    Agree. Get a second opinion. The current dealer should be doing far more than offering you a questionable $600 boondoggle.

  • mike_home
    7 days ago

    He said that they normally don't measure any voltage settings, for some reason that I don't really understand.

    Disclaimer: I have no formal HVAC training. Just trying to help a fellow homeowner.

    Probably becasue the voltage is within the maximum limit which would suggest an equipmet problem.

    The ammeter is showing 1.17 A. Not sure what are the end points of the black wire in the photo. I am going to take a wild guess that is the wire between the fan motor and the capacitor. If it is a 1/3 HP motor then the current reading seems reasonable. This is not the LRA current draw.

    I am rethinking my advice about firing this HVAC service company.


    jimmy w thanked mike_home
  • jimmy w
    Original Author
    7 days ago

    >" Austin Air Companie

    >4 days ago

    >There is a possiblity of putting a 5-2-1 start kit on your AC compressor and causing more >damage to your compressor (over time) than had you left well enough alone.


    I called the sales rep who sold me the system, as he worked as a service tech manager for a number of years. He said he would suggest adding a HSK on every system he sells. When it comes to the price, he said it results from the fact that they have to guarantee that it will work as indicated. Sounds fishy.


    How do I know that a given HSK is suited to my system (16ACX)? Lennox doesn't make or market HSKs.

  • wdccruise
    7 days ago

    "Lennox doesn't make or market HSKs."

    See page 6 of thespecifications.

    jimmy w thanked wdccruise
  • jimmy w
    Original Author
    7 days ago

    Thanks. I assume that I and most average homeowners have single phase systems. I know that my supply voltage is 240V.

  • jimmy w
    Original Author
    7 days ago

    But, I'd still like to know whether there's a particular HSK that's known to be compatible with my unit...unless they're all generic.

  • jimmy w
    Original Author
    7 days ago

    But I'd still like to know whether there are particular HSKs (make model) that are known to work with my system.

  • PRO
    Austin Air Companie
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    I called the sales rep who sold me the system, as he worked as a service tech manager for a number of years. He said he would suggest adding a HSK on every system he sells. When it comes to the price, he said it results from the fact that they have to guarantee that it will work as indicated. Sounds fishy.

    Well of course, it's in his name what he does? "Sales Rep." his job is to sell. If all he ever did was tell you to do nothing what do you think would become of his job of "selling". It is litterally in his name. He has to sell no matter what you or anyone else thinks.

    The price: how did that part get on the truck to be able to sell it in the first place? how many channels of the company have to be involved to get that part on that specific truck? The labor involved just to get it / make sure it's still there on the truck to be sold? The mark up pays for what?

    not just the tech. / the dispatch / the accountant / the lawyers / the realtor (office rent) / the dealership (the vehicle they show up in) / the advertiser / the boss (license holder) / the gas company / the insurer (commercial vehicle) / the insurer (general liability insurance) / the poor little $30 part people complain why it's so expensive... lol. (accounting class dismissed)


    Now take a short trip to McDonalds see what they charge for a Big Mac because everyone thinks it a good idea to mandate a $20 per hour wage for employees there. You think your HVAC guy is going to keep working for $20 an hour? The dispatch is going to keep working dealing with griping people calling in for service? and so on...


    How many different variations there could be of this specific part that might not be what your unit needs. Page 6 that link that wdccruise posted what does it say "additional accessories" -- an accessory is an add on that isn't necessarily needed, but added to a system. You've noted that it's required on some models... because in some instances it is required.

    If you needed it, if it were required the manufacturer would have told you it was required.

    The tech telling you it is needed / the sales rep : this is how they make (more) money. This would be ENTIRELY different IF your compressor was having trouble STARTING UP. From what you've said it is not having any trouble. So let's do something that could give it some trouble? Is this what you are hell bent on doing? (seriously)

    Lennox vs other brands. They aren't designed for you to work on them yourself. This is why there are little clarifications within the warranty document itself that if you partake in something foolish it will void your warranty.

    I provide a picture, Lennox may word it differently but if one manufacturer does it they all do it, don't kid yourself.

    click to enlarge:


    If your AC starts having a problem where the compressor isn't starting, typically you may be presented a few options. Replace the compressor OR maybe a hard start kit may aid the compressor for a time. The cost of the hard start is much cheaper than replacing a compressor EVEN IF the unit is still under part warranty.

    But sales companies are in the business to sell you, keep selling you. It's not about what you really need anymore, it's to keep selling you. If you spring a refrigerant leak and the new units come out they'll probably be telling you to replace the system again.

    Ask your sales rep see what he says about whether you should buy a new unit when the new refrigerant comes out. I'm curious to see what he says. LOL.

  • PRO
    Charles Ross Homes
    6 days ago

    "But I'd still like to know whether there are particular HSKs (make model) that are known to work with my system." The installation instructions for the Lennox 16ACX https://tech.lennoxintl.com/C03e7o14l/VIu12Ch2uV/ehb_16acx_2005.pdf note the following with regard to a compressor hard start kit :

    • In conditions such as low voltage, kit may be required to increase the compressor starting torque.
    • Hard start kit is required in applications where the supply voltage is less than 230V

    You'll need to verify the kit which is required for your specific model.



  • mike_home
    6 days ago

    You left out the most important sentence

    Compressor Hard Start Kit

    • Single-phase units are equipped with a PSC compressor motor. This type of motor normally does not need a potential relay and start capacitor.

    The manufacturer is basically saying the hard start kit may be required if the supply voltage is less than 230 V. But the service company does not measure the supply voltage and put it in their report as the justification for installing the hard start kit. We are not sure if their ammeter can accurately measure the LRA current at start up. If it could they would have sent you a photo of the meter reading.

  • wdccruise
    6 days ago

    Wow! $250 (10J42) to $300 (63W22) for various hard start kits which consist of little more than a capacitor and relay. If you determine the specs of the capacitor and relay, you can probably buy the parts for less than $25 on Amazon.

  • PRO
    Austin Air Companie
    6 days ago
    last modified: 6 days ago

    LOL and Charles likes to think the HVAC business doesn't have a concern over costs?

    Here we are arguing over a few hundred dollars, when the refrigerant required to operate the unit will come at a much greater expense.

    Lennox or any other major manufacturer isn't going to sell a part to you anyway, unless you're licensed HVAC contractor.

    Like you think Lennox distributors or any other could keep their lights on not charging heavy mark up on parts specific to the systems they sell. This has been going on the better part of 20 years now.

    I find it all quite amusing and quite concerning at the same time. (mind rot over money)


    The second kit wdccruise posted is back ordered. They expect a month delay.


    Time is a different form of currency you aren't getting back. Once your number is up, that's it. In the mean time we'll continue to argue over money or the lack there of.

  • PRO
    Charles Ross Homes
    6 days ago

    The OP asked a simple question about hard start kits suitable for a system they already have. The issues of refrigerants or OEM part availability isn't a propos to their question.

  • jimmy w
    Original Author
    5 days ago

    First, assuming my system's LRA is 15 amps above the spec and my line voltage is good, but given what the Lennox manual states, it seems that the techs in this thread suggest ignoring the amp reading. On the other hand, my provider says that, if ignored, the high amps will slowly degrade my compressor, and a proper HSK can't hurt.


    Unfortunately, Lennox offers no tech help to homeowners. Lastly, what possibly could be the difference between the Lennox brand and those offered online?

  • klem1
    5 days ago

    Assuming? Ignoring? Not a recipe for success.

  • jimmy w
    Original Author
    5 days ago

    It's "assuming" because I didn't see the actual meter readout, so at the very least it's a valid hypothetical question that any HVAC should be able to answer. If you're a tech, or a tech on this thread cares to answer, given what the Lennox manual indicates as noted a couple times above, if a system's LRA is 15 amps above the LRA spec, and voltage is within specs, what do you advise the customer?

  • klem1
    5 days ago

    File a warranty claim.

  • PRO
    Austin Air Companie
    5 days ago

    It's "assuming" because I didn't see the actual meter readout, so at the very least it's a valid hypothetical question that any HVAC should be able to answer. If you're a tech, or a tech on this thread cares to answer, given what the Lennox manual indicates as noted a couple times above, if a system's LRA is 15 amps above the LRA spec, and voltage is within specs, what do you advise the customer?


    If your pay would go up if you sold a $600 part. (A conflict of interest you'd rather ignore.)


    Sales Rep says: (buy this, buy that, buy, buy, buy - he's in sales what do you really expect him to say?)


    The manufacturer: The system is designed and engineered to perform as it's listed from it's specific efficiency page. They then put a warranty of a usually 10 years maybe more on the parts of that machine to cover the life of those parts.


    Now you think the manufacturer has intentionally left something out so they can get a costly warranty claim against a part of the machine that is the more expensive part?


    With the large “boost” of capacitance from the Hard-Start Kit, compressor failure WILL occur after an extended time running without the motor-run capacitor, accompanied by the repeated “hammering” the motor takes from “high-boost” over-capacitance starts.


    Meaning that if the system wasn't "engineered" to require a hard start, death of the so called part you're trying to protect is going to die anyway.


    The clue is "over capacitance" starts. The kit was not sized properly to the specific compressor. There is more than one type of compressor and some models have / use different compressors depending on size (capacity) of the machine.


    Some manufacture models protect the compressor if it detects a motor-run capacitor fail, which will prevent the compressor from trying to run in that state.


    This is all upper level classified info that companies that sell these devices regularly do not want you to know. (The device they claim is protecting your compressor, is probably killing it one start at a time.)

    The LRA reading is insignificant "ONLY IF"

    • The compressor starts normally. Does not go into "off on over load" state. Compressor OL over load is a protective device that if the compressor does not start it will take the compressor winding out of circuit. (Typically less than 1 second upon engaging)
    • The breaker to the compressor is not tripping / does not need resetting at any point. Continued tripping breaker? A problem that should be investigated.


    The reason (my guess) why they use an LRA reading to suggest you need something is because they know it's a grey (gray) area in which to talk you into to buying something, for a problem (that appears to me) you don't have.


    I know there's a problem here some where. Let's fix it. (fine if I am on the clock) not so much in a forum board. LOL.


    jimmy w thanked Austin Air Companie