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The Common Types of Capacitors and How To Choose the Right One

Capacitors are one of the many circuit elements that are a building block of modern electronics, and every electronic device will contain at least one capacitor in its assembly. In their most basic form, capacitors are passive components that temporarily store electric charges, and this simplistic operation is essential for the functionality of countless devices. As capacitors come in a number of forms with different ratings, it can be beneficial to have a basic understanding of how capacitors work and the varying options that are available.

A typical capacitor consists of two parallel conducting plates that are separated with a dielectric, that of which is a non-conducting area made from ceramic, aluminum, air, or a vacuum. During operation, energy is drawn from a source such as a battery and stored between the two conductive plates as electrons accumulate on one plate. Once fully charged, one plate will feature a net negative charge, while the other has an equal net positive charge. This balance forms an attractive force, maintaining the charge within the component until it is needed. Now that you understand the basic working of capacitor components, we will now discuss the most common types that one may procure.

A paper capacitor is the most simplistic type of capacitor, featuring conductive plates in the form of aluminum foil and waxed paper as the dielectric. By rolling the assembly into a cylinder and placing metallic caps on both ends, a large-cross sectional area is established. Paper capacitors are capable of storing electrical charges, but their performance and reliability often falls below other various options.

For another simplistic option in terms of construction, ceramic capacitors are another common choice. To form a ceramic capacitor, a thin ceramic disc is sandwiched between two metal discs which have terminals soldered onto them. To ensure the safety of the component, an insulated coating is added. Despite their simplicity, ceramic capacitors find use in a plethora of applications, serving for coupling, decoupling, smoothing, and filtering.

While the aforementioned types are all useful capacitors, there are also specialized options for when increased capabilities are desired. For example, the variable capacitor is one that is able to adjust its capacitance through electronic or mechanical means. Generally, these capacitors are useful for LC circuits where resonance frequencies are set or within radios for tuning. Due to their role in certain applications and assemblies, variable capacitors may also be referred to as tuning condensers or tuning capacitors.

Aside from such examples, other capacitor options include the electrolyte, polyester, and polycarbonate capacitor options. When you are narrowing down which is the best for your particular needs, there are a few factors that are important to take note of. Generally, the most optimal way to find a solution is to consider required stability, costs, precision, leakage, target power factors, space restrictions, and other such details. Polarization is also an important determining factor, and capacitors may either be polarized or nonpolarized.

Once you have taken the time to determine your capacitor needs, we encourage you to take advantage of our unparalleled database of parts to fulfill all your operational needs with time and cost savings. Fully dedicated to quality, we only offer capacitor components that have come from leading global manufacturers that we trust. As such, you can rely on our offerings regardless of whether you are purchasing an adapter capacitor component, base capacitor, box capacitor, or other various part types. To get started with a competitive quote for your comparisons, simply fill out and submit an RFQ form as provided on our website. Once received, a member of our staff will reach out to you within 15 minutes to continue the purchasing process.


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