• sachleen

MemberJan 15, 2011

## Capacitor Positive and Negative

Hello friends, I'm curious to understand the concept of polarity in capacitors. Specifically, why is one plate referred to as positive and the other as negative? How can we determine which plate has which polarity?

Additionally, could you explain why ceramic capacitors seem to have no defined polarity?

Thank you!

Answer:

The question at hand is multifaceted and pertains to the concept of polarity in capacitors, with a particular emphasis on why ceramic capacitors are often considered non-polarized.

The positive and negative polarity in capacitor is determined by markings on the capacitor or through the datasheet provided by manufacturer.

Let's break down the answer into the relevant points:

## 1. Basics of Capacitor Polarity

A capacitor is a passive two-terminal electrical component used to store energy electrostatically. It consists of two conductive plates separated by an insulator or dielectric.

Polarized Capacitors: Some capacitors are polarized, meaning they have a positive and a negative plate. Electrolytic and tantalum capacitors are common examples. The polarity must be observed in a circuit, or the capacitor may be damaged.

- Positive Plate: The positive plate is usually the anode. In polarized capacitors, this plate has an insulating oxide layer that acts as a dielectric. Connecting it in the reverse direction may cause this oxide layer to break down, leading to a short circuit.

- Negative Plate: The negative plate, or cathode, must be connected to a lower voltage. Misconnecting a polarized capacitor can lead to failure or even explosion.

Non-Polarized Capacitors: Other capacitors, like ceramic or film capacitors, are non-polarized, meaning they can be connected either way in a circuit without concern for polarity.

## 2. Determining Polarity

- Markings: Many polarized capacitors will have markings to indicate the positive or negative terminal. For example, the negative terminal may be marked with a minus sign or a stripe.

- Datasheets: If visual markings are unclear, you can refer to the manufacturer's datasheet for the specific capacitor.

## 3. Ceramic Capacitors and Non-Polarity

Ceramic capacitors are typically non-polarized. Here's why:

- Construction: Unlike polarized capacitors, ceramic capacitors do not have an oxide layer on one of the plates, so there's no inherent polarity.

- Applications: Since they are non-polarized, ceramic capacitors can be used in AC applications where the voltage changes direction, as well as in DC applications where the voltage remains constant.

## Conclusion

Understanding the polarity of a capacitor is essential, particularly for polarized types, to ensure correct usage and prevent potential damage. The nature of ceramic capacitors makes them versatile, being non-polarized and suitable for both AC and DC applications. Always refer to visual markings or datasheets if you're uncertain about the polarity of a specific capacitor.

Howdy guest!
Dear guest, you must be logged-in to participate on CrazyEngineers. We would love to have you as a member of our community. Consider creating an account or login.
Replies
• MemberJan 19, 2011

<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrolytic_capacitor" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Electrolytic Capacitor</a>
this may help u
Are you sure? This action cannot be undone.
• MemberJan 19, 2011

The positive & negative polarities in a capacitor can be generalized in a way that it consists of two plates separated by a dielectric medium in which the charges get stored. Now the theory says that when you pass electric current through the dielectric medium, there is an electric field generated due to accumulation of charges. Now due to electric induction an equal charge but opposite polarity is said to exist on the the other plate. In this way the capacitor plate assume their positive & negative polarity.
Are you sure? This action cannot be undone.
• MemberJan 21, 2011

i donot to know but ceramic capacitors are not having any polarity
Are you sure? This action cannot be undone.
• MemberJan 22, 2011

thanks shreyasm........
Are you sure? This action cannot be undone.