In order to avoid electric shock, I need to discharge the capacitor of my refrigerator before working on it. How do I do it, and where can I buy an appropriate power resistor?

  • This question is about appliance repair, not home improvement. Voting to close.
    – Niall C.
    Jul 23, 2010 at 2:31
  • 5
    Huh? If you fixed your fridge, you have therefore improved your home.
    – spoulson
    Jul 23, 2010 at 11:52
  • Why would there be a capacitor (refrigerators are very crude, AC input is the only exposed electronic part) and on what would you be "working on" in a sealed system with no maintainable parts?
    – XTL
    Nov 21, 2011 at 7:34
  • @XTL Single-phase induction motors usually need a capacitor to start, unless there's a variable speed drive. Also, switchmode power supplies (if your fridge has many smarts beyond a light) have a hold-up cap, though you'd have to be messing around in the electronics to touch it. Apr 8, 2016 at 6:26

3 Answers 3


You would need a 20,000 ohm 2 watt resistor. Not sure if the big home stores would have that though. Might need to call around or check with an appliance repair shop.


Use a light bulb. Besides being more than capable of dissipating the power, it has the bonus of telling you when the capacitor is empty since the light will go out.

The best way is to use a spare light socket and touch the two wires to the capacitor leads. Lacking a socket, some wire and electrical tape will do the trick if you're careful.

  • 1
    Make sure it's an incandescent light bulb. Apr 25, 2017 at 14:25

You should be using an insulated shorting probe to properly discharge that capacitor.

There are special shorting probes made for this purpose, but the only ones I've seen online are for really large applications (like attached to a hot stick type large). When I was in the Navy we had some nice handheld sized ones for using inside equipment cabinets.

Short of purchasing one, there are instructions on the web on how to build one. I wouldn't just take a wire or leads from a bulb socket and short the cap leads to ground - those compressor start/run capacitors can be fairly high in capacitance and hold a decent amount of energy. If you decided to create a DIY shorting probe, ensure you get a resistor of sufficient size so you're not just instantaneously discharging the cap to ground (basically creating a direct short - unsafe).

And lastly... ABSOLUTELY check the circuit is deenergized at the capacitor terminals after you're done discharging them - you might think it's dead... but sometimes you don't always get a good contact on the lead or fully discharge the component.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.