## jb Capacitors in Series with Mains & in Parallel

For capacitors in parallel

Capacitors in a parallel configuration each have the same applied voltage. Their capacitances add up. Charge is apportioned among them by size. Using the schematic diagram to visualize parallel plates, it is apparent that each capacitor contributes to the total surface area.

Several capacitors in parallel.

For capacitors in series

Connected in series, the schematic diagram reveals that the separation distance, not the plate area, adds up. The capacitors each store instantaneous charge build-up equal to that of every other capacitor in the series. The total voltage difference from end to end is apportioned to each capacitor according to the inverse of its capacitance.

Several capacitors in series.

The entire series acts as a capacitorsmaller than any of its components.

Capacitors are combined in series to achieve a higher working voltage, for example for smoothing a high voltage power supply. The voltage ratings, which are based on plate separation, add up. In such an application, several series connections may in turn be connected in parallel, forming a matrix. The goal is to maximize the energy storage utility of each capacitor without overloading it.

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## jb Coupling Capacitors in Series and Parallel

In theory, capacitors can be coupled both in series and parallel. If you need a 100MF cap and have two at 50MF, you can connect them in parallel, and that will give you 100MF (and same voltage rating as each). If you couple them in series, you get half the capacitance, and double voltage rating. But coupling electrolytic capacitors in series to get higher voltage rating must generally be discouraged. For this to work, you must be sure that the two (or more) caps share the voltage load properly; a resistor network can augment this, but if leakage currents are markedly different or the capacitors age differently, you are looking at a potential disaster, so do this only as a last resort, if at all.