Capacitor components store and release electrical charge.
- 2 close together but separated conductive areas (plates) store a charge when a voltage is placed across them.
- The amount of stored charge depends on it’s capacitance in Farads (Symbols: F and the Greek letter µ (mu)) and the voltage that is charged too. Q = CV (Charge equals capacitance times voltage).
- The coulomb is the unit of electric charge with the symbol C.
- The voltage limit must not be exceeded.
More capacitance can be obtained by connecting capacitors in parallel. The capacitance simply adds up. The capacitors do not have to have equal capacitance. The larger value ones will simply accept and deliver more current. The voltage applied to them however can never exceed the lowest voltage capacitor being used. They will all charge/discharge to the same voltage.
- Parallel – More capacitance, voltage spreads evenly across capacitors no matter their value.
More voltage can be applied than the rated value of a capacitor by connecting them in series. It is important that the capacitors are of equal value and that there is balancing circuitry to ensure that they share the voltage equally. Likely dangers of unbalanced series capacitors are either more voltage across one or more capacitors than expected or even reverse voltage.
- Series – Can accept a higher voltage than a single capacitor. Series capacitors must be of equal value and the capacitors must be constantly balanced.
Most capacitors are rated at much less than a Farad (millifarad, microfarad, nanofarad, picofarad). Millifarad is typically not used but instead is represented as thousands of microfarads (uF). Supercapacitors are capacitors that are rated at about 1 Farad or more.
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