What is an Electrical Capacitor?

electrical maintenance

About Electrical Capacitors

A capacitor is an essential part of some electronic components. It temporarily stores energy and reduces energy spikes to make our devices work better and more safely.

What Does a Capacitor Do?

A capacitor stores electric energy while it’s connected to a battery or other source of energy. When the energy is shut off, the capacitor stores the power supply without power and without a battery.

Why Do We Need Capacitors?

A capacitor prevents the device from completely losing power and memory when it is unexpectedly shut off. It’s particularly useful when the power comes back on. A capacitor can smooth out variations in the voltage of the energy it receives, so that when it releases that energy, it is in a safe form that won’t overpower the device.

A capacitor can only hold power for a short time. The term capacitance describes how much storage the capacitator has. The higher the capacitance, the more energy it can hold.

What Is an Electrical Capacitor Used For?

Capacitors have many uses. A smartphone or computer may have hundreds or even thousands of capacitors. They are found in the motors of washing machines, refrigerators, televisions, and air compressors. Here are some examples of how they’re used in everyday electronics.

Camera flash: A camera flash uses a lot of energy in a quick span of time. Using a battery is not an efficient way to gather that much energy, so a capacitor stores the energy until it’s needed, and it is then released when you push the button.
Computer safety: If your computer shuts down unexpectedly, the capacitors store enough energy to give you time to save your important files and shut the computer down safely. Capacitors get turned on every time you turn your computer on.
Sensors: Most sensors use capacitors to analyze the input they get from the outside world and convert it into action.
Ceiling fan: Many ceiling fans have capacitors in their engines that apply torque to make the fan blades turn.

Types of Capacitors

• Axial electrolytic: A small, low-voltage capacitator used for a variety of devices.
• High-voltage disk ceramic: A small capacitator designed for more rugged use.
• High-voltage electrolytic: A small capacitator used in power supplies.
• Metalized polypropylene: A medium-sized capacitator with double the capacitance of an axial electrolytic.
• Multi-layer: A large, high-capacitance capacitator.

Understanding Electricity

We hope you found this touch of electricity education helpful. At SESCOS, we are here to help with all your electrical concerns. Whether you need a ceiling fan mounted or a whole-house generator installed, call us.

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