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Types of Capacitors

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There are many different types of capacitors and they each vary in their characteristics and each have their
own advantages and disadvantages.
Some types of capacitors can charge up to higher voltages and, thus, can be used in high voltage
applications. Some capacitors can charge up to very high charges, such as aluminum electrolytic
capacitors. Some capacitors have very low leakage low leakage rates and others have very high leakage
rates. All of these factors determine how and in what application each of the capacitors will be used in
circuits.
Below is a list of the various types of capacitors, as we go over the characteristics that make them up:

Aluminum Capacitors
Aluminum Capacitors are capacitors that are composed of two rolled up strips
of aluminum foil with a strip of absorbent paper between them which is soaked
in an electrolyte solution- all this being sealed in a can.
Electrolytic capacitors cover the capacitance range of 0.1F to 500,000F,
making them one of the largest capacitors in terms of capacitance storage. This
is one of their main advantages, that they store such a high value of charge.
Working voltages range from 10V to 100V. The disadvantages of aluminum electrolytic capacitors is that
they have leakage rates, so they tend to leak out a lot of DC current, which makes them bad in
applications for high-frequency AC coupling. They also have a wide tolerance range, usually 20% or
more. This makes them poor in applications where precise values are needed, such as in timing or filtering
circuits. Thus, they generally are not used in these applications.

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Tantalum Capacitors
Tantalum Capacitors are capacitors that are made of tantalum pentoxide.
Tantalum capacitors, just like aluminum, are electrolytic capacitors, which means they are
polarized. Their main advantages (especially over aluminum capacitors) is that they are smaller,
lighter, and more stable. They have lower leakage rates and less inductance between leads.
However, their disadvantags are they have a lower maximum capacitance storage and lower
maximum working voltage. They are also more prone to damage from high current spikes. For the last
reason, tantalum capacitors are used mostly in analog signal systems that lack high current-spike noise.

Ceramic Capacitors
Ceramic capacitors are capacitors that are composed of materials such as titanium acid barium as
its dielectric. Together with electrolytics, they are the most widely used capacitor around.
Ceramic capacitors have high capacitance values for their size. They are made in the range of 1pF
to 220nF. They come with a working voltage of up to 50V and are manufactured with a wide
range of tolerance values. One main advantage of ceramic capacitors are, internally, they are not
constructed as a coil, so they have low inductance and are well suited for higher-frequency
applications. They are widely used for many purposes, including decoupling.
A NPO ceramic capacitor is one which is an ultrastable or temperature compensating capacitor. It is one
of the most highly stable capacitors. It has very predictable temperature coefficients (TCs) and, in general,
does not age with time. Being so, it is highly suitable for tuning circuits and filter applications.

Polyester Capacitors
Polyester capacitors are capacitors composed of metal plates with polyester film between them, or
a metallised film is deposited on the insulator.
Polyester capacitors are available in the range of 1nF to 15F, and with working voltages from
50V to 1500V. They come with the tolerance ranges of 5%, 10%, and 20%. They have a high
temperature coefficient. They have high isolation resistance, so they are good choice capacitors
for coupling and/or storage applications. Compared with most other types, polyester capacitors
have high capacitance per unit volume. This means more capacitance can fit into a physically smaller
capacitor. This feature, together with their relatively low price makes polyester capacitors a widely used,
popular, and cheap capacitor.

Polypropylene Capacitors
Polypropylene capacitors are capacitors that have a dielectric that is made of polypropylene
film.
Polypropylene capacitors cover the value range of 100pf to 10F. One of their main and key
features is their high working voltage. Polypropylene types with working voltages up to
3000V are made. These features make polypropylene capacitors useful in circuits in which
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operating voltages are typically high. These include power supply circuits, power amplifiers, particularly
valve amplifiers and TV circuits. Another great advantage of polypropylene capacitors are their great
tolerance values. Tolerance is about 1 percent, so it's pretty precisely near their nominal values.
Polypropylene capacitors are used when a better tolerance is needed than what a polyester capacitor can
provide. Polypropylene capacitors also have high isolation resistance, which makes them a good choice
for coupling and/or storage applications. They exhibit stable capacitance for frequencies below 100KHz.
These capacitors are used for noise suppression, blocking, bypassing, coupling, filtering, timing, and
handling pulses.

Polystyrene Capacitors
Polystyrene capacitors are capacitors that have a dielectric made up of
polystyrene.
They come only in low values, usually 10pF to 47nF. Normally, their tolerance is 5% to 10% but high
precision polystyrene capacitors are also available with tolerances of 1% and 2%. Working voltages for
polystyrene capacitors are 30V to 630V. Polystyrene capacitors are advantageous in that they have high
isolation resistance, so they are good for use in coupling and storage applications. The precision types are
suitable for timing, tuning and filter circuits.
One of their disadvantages are they are constructed like a coil inside, so they are not suitable for
high-frequency applications. (This is because coils create inductance, and inductance blocks
high-frequency signals from passing through.) Another disadvantage is that polystyrene capacitors exhibit
a permanent change in value should they ever be exposed to temperatures much over 70C; they do not
return to their old value upon cooling.

Polycarbonate Capacitors
Polycarbonate capacitors are capacitors that have a polycarbonate dielectric. They come in the
capacitance value range of 100pF to 10F, and have working voltages up to 400V DC. They're
advantageous in the area that they have fairly good temperature coefficients, so they don't vary
much with changes in temperature. This makes them preferred to polyester capacitors. They are
disadvantageous in that they have fairly high tolerance levels, 5% and 10%, making them not so
great for high-precision applications.

Silver Mica Capacitors


Silver Mica Capacitors are capacitors that are made from depositing a thin layer of silver on a
mica dielectric.
Silver Mica Capacitors are very stable with respect to time. They are advantageous in that they
have tolerances of 1 percent or less. They also have a good temperature coefficient and
excellent endurance. However, they don't come in high capacitance values and can be
expensive.
Silver mica capacitors are used in resonance circuits and high-frequency filters, due to good stability with
temperature. They are also used in high-voltage circuits, because of their good insulation.

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Paper Capacitor
Paper capacitors are capacitors that are made of flat thin strips of metal foil conductors
separated by a dielectric of waxed paper.
They have a capacitance range of 500pF to 50F and a high working voltage, so, thus, they are
used mainly in high-voltage equipment.
The downside of paper capcitors are that they have high leakage rates, making them unsuitable
for AC coupling, and their tolerances are no better than 10 to 20 percent, making them unsuitable for
precision timing circuits.
These are many of the different types of capacitors. This isn't an exhaustive but the main types are all
covered here.

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(Nov 6, 2013) Anonymous said:
what about air spaced?

(Nov 6, 2013) Anonymous said:


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(Nov 6, 2013) Anonymous said:


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(June 24, 2013) techgeneric said:


Nice article.
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Types of Capacitors

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(Apr 30, 2013) Ashwani Kumar Dubey said:


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(Apr 22, 2013) Amandeep singh said:


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(Jan 6, 2013) ahmedakter said:


Nice & knowledgeable article, thanks

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