Air Conditioning 101: What Does an Isolator Do in AC Units?

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If you have an air conditioner in your home or office, you may have noticed a switch on the outdoor unit. Unlike any normal switching panel, this device has a toggle that’s usually shaped like an inverted letter “V" - this is called the aircon isolator.

In this article, we'll take a look at what an aircon isolator switch does, and why it is important to have one in your AC unit. We'll look at signs to recognize a faulty aircon isolator switch as well so you can determine whether to have your air conditioner checked by a professional HVAC technician for repairs.

What is an Aircon Isolator?

The isolator is a type of switch device whose main function is to ensure that a circuit or machine is totally not triggered in order to perform the preservation. These switching devices are also called aircon isolators, and are extremely helpful in, as their name suggests, isolating the electrical input and output of your unit.

When installing air conditioners, a lot of people opt to hardwire the unit directly to the main switch board. While this still meets industry standards, it’s generally considered as a shortcut by a lot of aircon experts.

To guarantee safety and reduce the risk of electrical problems, aircon isolators are installed on the outdoor units of air conditioners. This allows aircon owners to disconnect the unit whenever needed to protect it from situations such as thunderstorms or lightning strikes.

Sudden power surges may also activate the isolator, and the aircon isolator switches on to cut the unit from its power supply the second it detects a problem with the air conditioner, such as an electrical fault. It prevents unmaintained circuits from flowing inside your unit for your own safety, and to avoid overloading the air conditioner.

The Importance of an Air Conditioner Isolator Switch

1. Minimizing Safety Risks

Aircon isolators are designed and used to prevent home safety switches from tripping repeatedly in the case of a faulty air conditioning system. The isolator disconnects the power supply from the unit the minute it runs into any unusual electrical fault or malfunction.

You can reset your isolator switch to continue using your AC unit, but we recommend having one of our HVAC technicians drop by and check on your unit to make sure everything is working in good condition, and that there are no safety hazards involved in operating your air conditioner.

2. Prevents Electric Shock

Isolators are made of sets of electrical contacts that work as a fail-safe in case of electrical faults and ground fault interruptions. These faults can lead to accidents and injuries like electrocution, which often happens when electricity meets a water source, such as during thunderstorms. The isolator prevents this all from happening.

3. Prevents AC Unit from Draining Power

Another use for the aircon isolator is to prevent the unit from draining power when not in use. Not only does this prevent any accidents with your air conditioning unit, but it helps to minimize electrical consumption by your unit.

Diagnosing a Faulty Isolator Switch

#1 Air Conditioner Won't Turn On

If your air conditioner refuses to turn on, it may have activated the isolator switch. Simply reset the isolator switch by switching it off for one hour, then turn the switch back on. If your AC unit is up and running again without any problems, the isolator may have detected unusual electrical activity.

However, if the AC unit does not power on despite resetting the isolator switch, then you may have a faulty or failing switch. The best way to know if your isolator switch is failing is to have an aircon technician check your unit, and test your isolator switches.

#2 Isolator Switch Does Not Activate

When installing your isolator switch, it is a good idea to test the device first before finishing up the installation. This is to ensure that the isolator switch activates when it detects a sudden surge in electrical power. This is often done by an electrical technician, who will send a jolt of power to the switch to see if it activates. If not, then the switch may be faulty.

#3 Overloading Air Conditioner

The switch is there for safety reasons, and when you notice your air conditioning system overloading, and tripping circuits frequently, then it means your isolator switch isn't doing a good job. Test if your isolator switch is functioning properly, and replace the switch if the isolator is faulty.

Where to Get Aircon Isolators?

If you’re on the hunt for the best aircon switch or isolator switch, make sure to check out leading e-commerce platforms or online direct sellers. You can also pay a visit to the nearest hardware or appliance store in your area. Always ask for professional advice and assistance to find out the best option for your air con unit type and electrical capacity.

Singapore’s Most Trusted Aircon Service Expert

Whether it’s HDB aircon installation, office aircon gas top-up or the full scope of repair and maintenance services, our friendly experts and technicians here at Luce Aircon can attend to all your needs. Get in touch with us today to get a free consultation!

Contact us today for a hassle free experience for any air conditioning services! 

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