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Published 04/11/2023

Electrolytic capacitors are commonly used in printed circuit board (PCB) design, as they provide high capacitance values in a compact size. However, when designing PCBs with electrolytic capacitors, there are certain factors that must be taken into consideration to ensure proper performance and reliability.

One important factor to consider is the polarity of the electrolytic capacitor. Unlike other types of capacitors, electrolytic capacitors have a polarity, which means they must be connected in the correct orientation in the circuit. The negative lead of the capacitor should be connected to the negative side of the circuit, and the positive lead to the positive side. Connecting an electrolytic capacitor in reverse can cause it to fail or even explode, which can damage the PCB and other components.

Another factor to consider is the mounting of the electrolytic capacitor. Electrolytic capacitors are typically mounted on the surface of the PCB, either through-hole or surface mount, depending on the design requirements. Through-hole mounting involves drilling holes in the PCB and inserting the leads of the capacitor through the holes, while surface mount mounting involves attaching the capacitor directly to the surface of the PCB using solder or adhesive.

When mounting electrolytic capacitors on the surface of the PCB, it is important to ensure that the leads are properly aligned and spaced to prevent short circuits. The PCB layout should also take into consideration the size of the capacitor and the space required for proper heat dissipation. Improper placement or mounting can result in overheating and reduced performance of the capacitor, as well as damage to the PCB and other components.

In addition to proper polarity and mounting, it is also important to consider the specifications of the electrolytic capacitor when designing a PCB. This includes the capacitance value, voltage rating, and operating temperature range. Choosing a capacitor with the correct specifications for the application can help ensure proper performance and reliability of the circuit.

Another consideration is the lifetime of the electrolytic capacitor. As mentioned in the previous blog, electrolytic capacitors have a limited lifespan compared to other types of capacitors due to the possibility of the electrolyte drying out. This must be taken into consideration when designing the PCB, as the lifespan of the capacitor will affect the lifespan of the overall circuit. Choosing a capacitor with a longer lifespan or implementing a maintenance schedule can help ensure proper performance and reliability over time.

Designing a PCB with electrolytic capacitors requires careful consideration of several factors, including polarity, mounting, specifications, and lifespan. Proper design and placement of the electrolytic capacitor can help ensure reliable performance and prevent damage to the PCB and other components. Careful consideration of these factors can help ensure a successful PCB design with electrolytic capacitors.

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Fenghan Electronics (Fencon®️) is an ISO certified professional global manufacturer of electronic components. We offer our customers the wide range of selection of capacitors which are including SMD types, radial types, snap-in types, screw types.




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