7 Different Types of Capacitors [PDF]

If you’re familiar with capacitors and curious to learn about various types, this article delves into popular capacitor types, providing detailed insights. Keep reading to expand your knowledge.

Different Types of Capacitors

To understand how capacitors work, let’s start with understanding the basic structure: two conducting plates separated by an insulating layer. Designed for specific purposes, capacitors play diverse roles. Small value ones assist in electronic filters, tuned circuits, and signal coupling, while larger ones serve energy storage or power factor correction in electrical circuits.

Following are the two main types of Capacitors:

Fixed Capacitors
Belonging to the major capacitor types, these have set capacitance values.

Variable Capacitors
In contrast, these capacitors feature adjustable capacitance values, making them tunable.

fixed and variable capacitors diagram and symbol

While some may emphasize the significance of fixed capacitors, variable ones also prove invaluable in various situations.

Fixed Capacitors are further classified into the following main types:

  1. Ceramic capacitors
  2. Film and paper capacitors
  3. Electrolytic capacitors
  4. Glass, air-gap, vacuum, silicon, silver mica capacitors
  5. Super capacitors

Capacitors are used for applications like motor, suppression, power, DC-link, audio crossover, snubber, lighting ballast, coupling, bypassing, or decoupling capacitors.

They fall into two main groups:

  • Polarized
  • Non-Polarized

For instance, film and ceramic capacitors are non-polarized, while super and electrolytic capacitors are polarized.

Ceramic capacitor

Ceramic capacitors, a popular type, find use in various applications like audio and RF. Their affordability and reliability make them stand out. Capacities range from a few pico-farads to 0.1 micro-farads, and their loss factor, dependent on the dielectric, remains generally low.

Ceramic capacitor

Electrolytic capacitor

This polarized capacitor is excellent for low-frequency applications like audio coupling and power supplies, offering high capacitance values typically above 1μF.

Electrolytic capacitor

Film and paper capacitors

Various film capacitors, including polystyrene and metalized polyester, are tailored for specific needs. Polystyrene film capacitors, economically priced, offer limited frequency response up to a few hundred kHz and provide close-tolerance capacitors for specific applications. Polyester film capacitors have a low tolerance of 5% or 10%, but their cost is economical. Metalized polyester film capacitors, created from metalized polyester film, are notably smaller than regular polyester film capacitors due to thin electrodes, making them fit into smaller packages efficiently.

Film and paper capacitors

Super capacitors

The super capacitor, also called “supercap” or “ultra-capacitor,” is a popular type known for its exceptionally large capacitance values, reaching several thousand Farads. It finds widespread use in automotive applications and systems requiring a memory hold-up supply.

Super capacitors

Silver Mica capacitor

This capacitor type ensures higher stability, with excellent accuracy and low loss. Silver mica capacitors, typically employed in RF applications with maximum values of 1000 pF, are not as popular as other capacitors mentioned in this article, despite their utility.

Silver Mica capacitor

Glass capacitor

This capacitor, named for its dielectric material, utilizes glass, ensuring high performance with low loss. Notably, glass capacitors have a high RF current capability, contributing to their reputation as expensive capacitors in the market.

Glass capacitor

Tantalum capacitor

Considered polarized, this capacitor type delivers a very high capacitance level. While effective for high capacitance, they are unsuitable for handling high ripple currents or voltages beyond their working voltage.

Tantalum capacitor

Polycarbonate capacitor

With a very high tolerance, these capacitors are ideal for systems requiring exceptional reliability and performance. Designed to retain their capacitance value over time, polycarbonate capacitors exhibit stability in a wide temperature range from -55°C to +125°C. Similar to silver mica capacitors, polycarbonate capacitors are relatively less popular.

Polycarbonate capacitor

Conclusion

That was all about the detailed explanation of the types of capacitors. If you have any questions let us know in the comments below.

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