jb Summary of Capacitor Types

The table below gives and overview of the main characteristics of the various types of capacitor.

Capacitor types Capacitance range Accuracy Temperature stability Leakage Comments
Electrolytic 0.1 µF - ~1 F V poor V poor Poor Polarised capacitor - widely used in power supplies for smoothing, and bypass where accuracy, etc is not required.
Ceramic 10 pF - 1 µF Variable Variable Average Exact performanceof capacitor depends to a large extent on the ceramic used.
Tantalum 0.1 µF - 500 µF Poor Poor Poor Polarised capacitor - very high capacitance density.
Silver mica 1 pF - 3000 pF Good Good Good Rather expensive and large - not widely used these days except when small value accurate capacitors are needed.
Polyester (Mylar) 0.001 µF - 50 µF Good Poor Good Inexpensive, and popular for non-demanding applications.
Polystyrene 10 pF - 1 µF V good Good V good High quality, often used in filters and the like where accuracy is needed.
Polycarbonate 100 pF - 20 µF V good V good Good Used in many high tolerance and hash environmental conditions. Supply now restricted.
Polypropylene 100pF - 50 µF V good Good V good High performance and low dielectric absorption.
Teflon 100 pF - 1 µF V good V v good V v good High performance - lowest dielectric absorption.
Glass 10 pF - 1000 pF Good Good V good Excellent for very harsh environments while offering good stability. Very expensive.
Porcelain 100 pF - 0.1 µF Good Good Good Good long term stability
Vacuum and air 1 pF - 10 000 pF       Often used as variable capacitors in transmitters as a result of their very high voltage capability.

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