## Capacitor Tutorial – Symbol, Parameters, Connections

# Capacitor Tutorial – Symbol, Parameters, Connections

Table of Contents

**Capacitor**

**Capacitor** – a fundamental **passive electronic component** (next to **Inductor **and **Resistor**), which is made of at least two electrical conductors (plates) and a dielectric separating them (the insulator). After applying voltage to the plates, the gathering of the **electric charge begins**.

Depending on the construction, parameters and the type of system in which capacitors are applied, they can **collect energy**,** engage** (energy transfer),** filter and block the signals**. **Filters **and RC timers took its name from the combination of Resistor and Capacitor in one single system – and similarly in the RLC system Resistor and Capacitor were used but with the addition of the **Coil**.

**The capacity of a capacitor** (the amount of charge that capacitor can store) is expressed in Farads **[F]**. Despite the fact that 1 Farad is a large unit, the commonly produced capacitors are with capacitance values of pico [**pF]**, nano [**nF**] and micro [**µF**] farads.

**C** – capacitance of the capacitor **[F** – **F**arad]

* Q – electric charge on one plate [C–Coulomb]*

**V**– voltage between plates [**V**–**V**olt]**Capacitors – Division**

**electrolytic**– they operate only at low frequencies, have considerable capacity and the amount of leakage,**ceramic**– usually operate at high frequencies, trimmers, which are variable-capacitance capacitors, are also made of this material,**polymer**– (plastic) – they are suitable for the operation at high currents and characterized by high voltage resistance.

**Capacitor – Main technical parameters**

**Rated capacity**– the value provided by the manufacturer, it determines the capacity of this element,**Capacitance tolerance**– it’s given in percentage [%], the maximum deviation of the actual value of the item from its nominal value,**Rated voltage**– the maximum permisible voltage value for the corresponding component, it’s generally given as the sum of the voltage and the peak value of the alternating voltage,**Test voltage**– the voltage value that the capacitor is able to “withstand” in a short time,**Temperature coefficient of capacitance**(**TCC**)- it describes the maximum change in capacitance in the given range of temperatures,**Leakage**– responsible for self-discharge of the capacitor, dependent on the insulation resistance,**Resistance to voltage pulses**– described the optimal frequency of charging and discharging the capacitor,**Capacitor dissipation factor (tan δ)**– it is dependent from the temperature and frequency, the higher value, the worse quality of the capacitor.

**Capacitors – Series and Parallel connections**

As it is in the case of both inductors and resistors, capacitors can be connected in parallel and in series.

**Series connection:**

Capacity of capacitors connected in series (unlike the resistors) can be described by the following formula:

** Parallel connection**

Capacitance of capacitors connected in parallel are given by the formula:

The electric charge of capacitors connected in parallel are the sum of the charges gathered on them – as the relation above indicates.

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Also we remember from the last tutorial that with a polarised electrolytic capacitor, the positive lead must go to the positive connection and the negative lead to the negative connection otherwise it may again become damaged.

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Capacitors that have both of their respective terminals connected to each terminal of another capacitor are said to be connected in Parallel.