Automotive capacitors

Automotive capacitors: All you need to know

Capacitors are an essential part of any vehicle’s electrical system. They perform a number of functions, including smoothing out the flow of electricity and reducing voltage drops. Capacitors are also used in many other applications including computers, telecommunications equipment, and industrial machines. Capacitors come in two types: aluminum electrolytic (AE) and tantalum (Ta). Both have similar characteristics but are slightly different when it comes to price point and performance requirements.

How do capacitors work?

Capacitors store energy in their capacitance, which is the amount of charge they can hold. This means that when a capacitor is connected to a power source and that power source discharges through it, a charge appears on either side of the capacitor. The amount of energy stored in this form is called its “voltage.”

Capacitors are often used in automotive applications because they allow for faster charging times than batteries do—but there’s more to it than just speed. A battery charges up quickly but only stores enough charge for one-time use; if you want to keep using your car after recharging, you’ll have to plug it into another battery charger or take out another set of jumper cables from your trunk! This isn’t an option if your car breaks down at night with no lights on the road ahead and no way back into town because there aren’t any shops open late at night where they might sell replacement parts like fuses or batteries (and even if they were open).

What are automotive capacitors used for?

  • Filtering the power supply: automotive capacitors are used to filter the power supply, which is why they’re often referred to as “DC-to-DC converters.” These devices filter out AC ripple and noise from your battery, which can cause problems with charging or discharging rates. You’ll need a DC-to-DC converter with an input voltage range of 16V–30V (for example) in order for your car’s alternator to properly function. Without one, you’ll get erratic charging and discharging rates that result in overheating batteries or even catching fire!
  • Regulating voltage: automotive capacitors regulate voltage by shifting it between two rails—one for high current applications like lights and gauges on dashboards or instruments on dashboards themselves (such as tachometers), and another rail for low current applications such as headlights/brake lights/hazard lights/turn signals…the list goes on! This allows them greater flexibility than standard capacitors because they can be used for different tasks without having any significant impact on overall performance levels since both rails operate independently from each other; however, there may still be some differences in charging speeds depending upon how much charge was already stored within those systems before being switched over onto different rails.”

What are the different types of automotive capacitors?

There are many different types of automotive capacitors, and each type has its own advantages and drawbacks. You can choose from the following:

  • Electrolytic—These are the most common type of automotive capacitor, used in most modern cars. They offer high reliability, excellent temperature performance, and low-cost manufacturing. Unfortunately, they tend to be slow to charge (taking several hours) compared to other types of automotive capacitors; however, this isn’t as big an issue if you always charge your battery at night before going to bed!
  • Ceramic—Ceramic capacitors are more expensive than electrolytic ones but they have higher energy density (more power per unit volume). However they’re also more sensitive than other types so you need to make sure that your circuit doesn’t overheat them by not connecting too many components together at once – e.g., don’t put too much current through one ceramic capacitor when using it as part of a DC motor controller circuit!

Which is best for you: aluminum electrolytic or tantalum?

Aluminum electrolytic capacitors are cheaper and more readily available, but they’re also less reliable. They can be damaged by high temperatures, for example, so you may want to avoid using them in your car if you live in a hot climate or drive on rough roads regularly.

Tantalum capacitors have a longer lifespan than aluminum electrolytic types—up to 5 times longer, according to some estimates. This makes them ideal for applications where the capacitor might be exposed to extreme temperatures or vibration such as those found in electric power plants and aerospace vehicles (though beware: these devices still need regular maintenance).

However, there is one major drawback with tantalum capacitors: they cost more than typical aluminum ones do!

What do I need to know before selecting a capacitor?

Before selecting a capacitor, it is important to know the following:

  • What are the voltage (in volts) and current draw? This will help you determine if you need a low-voltage, high-amperage unit or a high-voltage, low-amperage unit.
  • What is ripple current? You may want to consider this when choosing between two different types of capacitors because some models can produce more ripple than others. For example, electrolytic capacitors have higher ripple currents than film types do; however they also have lower voltages and higher rated capacities compared with those same film types with similar ratings on both sides of their performance envelope curve—so they might not be ideal for your application if these factors are important factors in its design requirements!

Final thoughts on automotive capacitors

  • Aluminum electrolytic capacitors are the most common type of automotive capacitor, and they come in a wide variety of physical sizes.
  • Tantalum capacitors are more expensive but have a longer life expectancy than aluminum electrolytics.
  • Aluminum electrolytic capacitors can fail over time due to their composition; that’s why it’s important to use them sparingly.

Don’t buy the cheapest option, or the most expensive one; do your research and ask for advice.


We hope this article has helped you get a better understanding of what types of automotive capacitors are available and how they work. If you’re still unsure, we recommend speaking with an expert in the field to help you choose the right capacitor for your needs.