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The PTC (Positive Temperature Coefficient) relay is a starting device.

As typically, as current passes through PTC


material it causes an increase in temperature which in turn results in increased resistance until it reaches an open
circuit.
The PTC is wired between Run and Start, when the compressor is powering up, the PTC is cold, which gives it a
resistance of about 25 Ohms. So when starting, the compressor start winding gets current through it it needs to get
up to speed.
The same current heats the PTC (within less than a second), which causes its resistance to increase (to 10-30
kOhm), cutting the power from the start winding. The remaining current through the start winding keeps the PTC hot.
The compressor now operates on the run winding only. However, this creates a new circuit through the run capacitor
in series with the start winding, but not enough to either energize or burn the winding. This out-of-phase current
(where the current leads the voltage a characteristic of capacitance) allows the motor to run more efficiently,
consuming less power. This run capacitor is usually rated in the region of 8 15 microfarads.
Is it working correctly?
Fist of all PTC Relays are reletively inexpensive so they are not problem to replace. For a time and money saving
exercise most engineers will carry them on the van and just replace them if there is any doubt it may be stopping the
compressor starting. A visual inspection along with smelling the part can give you an idea if the PTC is burnt out or
not.
A possible way of trying to identify if the part itself is faulty is to do the following test.
Connect a household light bulb in series with the Mains voltage -> PTC -> light bulb -> mains return). The bulb should
flash once when power is applied if it is working correctly.