How to Tell If Your Ceiling Capacitor is Bad

How to Tell If Your Ceiling Capacitor is Bad


Because ceiling fans are so energy efficient, many homeowners with central air conditioning run them year-round. The capacitor is an important part of the ceiling fan motor. It stores energy while the ceiling fan is running so that it can continue to operate even when the fan blades are stationary. Unfortunately, ceiling fans are powered by a capacitor that can fail. In this article, we will discuss what you can do if the capacitor on your ceiling fan is no longer working.

What is a Ceiling Fan Capacitor and What Does it Do

A capacitor stores electricity and releases it during times of high demand. Ceiling fan capacitors are one of the main parts that can go wrong in a ceiling fan. It is an energy storage device, similar to a battery, but it uses electric charge stored in an electrical field rather than chemicals to store energy.

Can a Ceiling Fan Run without a Capacitor?

A ceiling fan is a rotary electrical machine, which can be used either to move air or rotate another object. A ceiling fan capacitor provides the extra energy that is needed for a ceiling fan to run smoothly. If there was no capacitor, it would be difficult to start the ceiling fan and it may not even turn at all.

How to Tell if Your Ceiling Fan Capacitor is Bad

If your ceiling fans are not operating properly, the problem is most likely a faulty capacitor. The following are signs that an undersized or failed capacitor may be the cause of the issue:

The fan does not turn on or run at all speeds

The fan will spin if started manually

Several speeds are slow or non-functional

The motor vibrates and turns by hand, but it won’t spin.

Troubleshooting for a Faulty Ceiling Fan Capacitor

Measure the voltage across capacitor terminals. If voltage is within spec, it’s unlikely a bad capacitor.

1. Locate and remove ceiling fan capacitor (fuse box or disconnect switch). Note: It is best to leave a ceiling fan running while replacing a capacitor so you can see how it operates.

2. Test the new capacitor with a voltage meter.

3. Reconnect wires and turn the fan on to test the capacitor. If the capacitor is bad, you will need to replace it with a working one of equal or greater size.

Steps on How to Replace the Ceiling Fan Capacitor(s)

1. Find an equivalent replacement part and begin swapping out the old with the new.

2. Turn off power at fuse board or remove and disconnect switch and test for voltage before touching any wires (there is usually no voltage after shutdown).

3. Remove old capacitor, make note of polarity, note how old capacitor is wired.

4. Place the new capacitor in place, wire it to match how old one was wired.

5. Turn on power at fuse board or reconnect and turn the switch back on, test ceiling fan to make sure capacitor is working.


It’s important to be able to identify a bad capacitor so you can replace it before it causes any more damage than what has already been done. Easybom hopes you’ve found this article helpful and that it has sparked your interest in learning more about the importance of ceiling fan capacitors.

Christophe Rude
Christophe Rude
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