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How to Read Capacitor Codes




Large capacitors have the value printed plainly on them, such as 10.uF (Ten Micro Farads) but smaller disk types along with plastic film types often have just 2 or three numbers on them?

First, most will have three numbers, but sometimes there are just two numbers. These are read as Pico-Farads. An example: 47 printed on a small disk can be assumed to be 47 Pico-Farads (or 47 puff as some like to say)

Now, what about the three numbers? It is somewhat similar to the resistor code. The first two are the 1st and 2nd significant digits and the third is a multiplier code. Most of the time the last digit tells you how many zeros to write after the first two digits, but the standard (EIA standard RS-198) has a couple of curves that you probably will never see. But just to be complete here it is in a table.

Third digit

Multiplier (this times the first two digits gives you the value in Pico-Farads)

0

1

1

10

2

100

3

1,000

4

10,000

5

100,000

6 not used

 

7 not used

 

8

.01

9

.1

Now for an example: A capacitor marked 104 is 10 with 4 more zeros or 100,000pF which is otherwise referred to as a .1 uF capacitor.

Most kit builders don't need to go further, but I know you want to learn more. Anyway, Just to confuse you some more there is sometimes a tolerance code given by a single letter. I don't know why there were picked in the order they are, except that it kind of follows the middle row of keys on a typewriter.

So a 103J is a 10,000 pF with +/-5% tolerance

Letter symbol

Tolerance of capacitor

D

+/- 0.5 pF

F

+/- 1%

G

+/- 2%

H

+/- 3%

J

+/- 5%

K

+/- 10%

M

+/- 20%

P

+100% ,-0%

Z

+80%, -20%

 

 















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