Capacitor Code: ColorCapacitor color band coding resembles the one used in resistors, where each band color represents a different value. This capacitor color coding follows the spectral order, and there can be up to five bands per capacitor. The first and second colors denote the initial capacitance digits. But the third indicates the multiplier, while the last two show the tolerance and voltage, respectively. Some capacitors don’t have tolerances, meaning they will have four colored bands. Here’s a summary of the data the color codes imply.
Capacitance Capacitor Color Coding Table
|Band Color||1st Digit||2nd Digit||Multiplier||Tolerance (>10pf)||Tolerance (<10pf)||Temperature Coefficient|
- Dipped tantalum capacitors are Type J
- Mica capacitors are Type K
- Polystyrene and polyester capacitors are Type L
- Electrolytic 4-band capacitors are Type M
- Electrolytic three-band capacitors are Type N
Different capacitor typesThe last color band of the four or five bands in a capacitor indicates the voltage, and the color coding refers to these values.
|Voltage Rating Per Type|
|Band Color||Type J||Type K||Type L||Type M||Type N|
Capacitor Color Code ExampleHere’s an example for better understanding. Let’s say you have a polyester or polystyrene capacitor with five color bands in this order.
A summary of the capacitor color coding
Capacitor Code: Alphanumeric CharactersIf you look at most modern circuit boards, they don’t have color-coded capacitors. This labeling system became obsolete many years ago, so you will probably only find such components in old electronics. Modern capacitors use alphanumeric character coding, which consists of three digits and one letter at the end.
Ceramic disc capacitors with 3-digit codesBut some have the capacity printed directly on the case. For instance, you might see 1000µF 6.3V. This labeling implies it has a 1000µF charge capacity and can operate safely at voltages not exceeding 6.3V. However, if you encounter the alphanumeric code, here’s what the characters mean.
- 1st and 2nd numbers give the capacitance in pF
- 3rd number is the multiplier (usually in the range of 0-6)
- The last letter indicates the tolerance
An electrolytic capacitor with the capacitance and voltage printed on the wallsLet’s say you have a capacitor written 404J. The first two numbers indicate the capacitance, which is 40pF. The third number (4) is the multiplier. So the value so far is 40x104=400,000pF (400nF or 0.4µF). And J is the tolerance, which is +/-5%.
Letter Tolerance Code TableThe most typical tolerance coding is the following.
Voltage CodeUnlike color coding, this alphanumeric value does not cover the voltage. So if not indicated, you might notice the alphanumeric code underlined, usually on brown-colored capacitors. This mark means the maximum voltage is 50/100V. If not underlined, the voltage rating is 500V. But if the component does not have this capacitor voltage code, check the documentation to get the exact figure.
Operating Temperature Range CodeIn addition to the 3-digit capacitor code, some ceramic disc capacitors have black marks at the top. This code denoted the component’s operating temperature range, usually -25 to 85°C.
PolarityMost capacitors don’t have polarities except the electrolytic type. So you must check the positive and negative labeling on the case before soldering or connecting it to your circuit.
An electrolytic capacitor