July 24, 2024

The Different Applications of Capacitors in Series vs Parallel

Capacitors are electronic devices which are used to store electricity as energy. Some people confuse capacitors with batteries because they both store energy in a similar fashion. However, capacitors are much lighter and smaller than batteries. Not only that, but capacitors can charge devices with electrical power a lot faster than batteries. Most of the electronic devices that we use contain capacitors.

So, how is the energy stored in a capacitor? First, you have to visualize in your head what a capacitor looks like. Imagine two metal plates that are close together but not touching each other. When electricity is sent into the circuit and passes through the capacitor, an electrical field is created between the two metal plates. This electrical field represents the location where the energy is stored.

A small electric charge requires the metal plates to have a lot of space available. That is why they’re usually shaped into a cylinder, although some metal plates have other shapes too. The application determines the type of capacitor that is utilized. There are many sizes of these capacitors to choose from. Some capacitors are made to be the size of a trash can while others are made to be the size of a bug.

Two connections exist in every capacitor. They could be either a series connection or a parallel connection. Let’s go over these two types of capacitor connections now.


Capacitors with a series connection will store less electricity in total than any one of these series capacitors by themselves. In other words, if you have two capacitors connected as a series, the total electricity it can store will be the equivalent of one capacitor. If you increase the space of the plates, that’ll only cause it to store less electricity.


Capacitors with a parallel connection can store more electricity in total than an individual capacitor can store by itself. This is the exact opposite of what capacitors with a series connection can store. When you have two capacitors or more with a parallel connection, you can figure out the total amount of electricity that can be stored by adding the individual value of each capacitor together.

Types of Capacitors

There are at least three types of capacitor that are found in our electronic devices. A supercapacitor is just how it sounds. It is a capacitor that can store a lot more electricity than a standard capacitor. Since batteries don’t discharge electricity fast enough for major electrical devices, such as motors, a supercapacitor emits a bigger charge very quickly. Polystyrene film capacitors are not commonly found in high-frequency circuitry. Since they’re comprised of coils, the polystyrene film capacitors serve as filter circuits that require no more than a few hundred kilohertz of power.

Electrolytic capacitors consist of liquid electrolyte that has a conducting surface within it. These capacitors have a positive lead and a negative lead. Some of these capacitors have the leads attached to both ends while others have the leads attached to only a single end. The manufacturer of the electrolytic capacitor prints the voltage rating and capacitance (electricity storage) rating on the outside. Of course, you have to have electrical knowledge to understand what these printed values mean.

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The series and parallel connections of capacitors offer the opposite results of the same connections found in resistors. For instance, a resistor with a series connection allows for more electricity to pass through rather than less. Just like a resistor with a parallel connection will restrict electricity more. These same types of connections in capacitors do the opposite as you have now learned from the above content.

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