How to Combine Nonpolar Capacitors

Capacitors are essential electronic components used to store and release electrical energy. They consist of two conductive plates separated by a dielectric material. The capacitance of a capacitor determines its ability to store charge, with higher capacitance indicating a greater charge storage capacity. Capacitors have various applications such as smoothing power supplies, filtering signals, controlling timing in circuits, and serving as essential elements in electronic devices like amplifiers and oscillators.

Types of Non-polar Capacitors

Non-polar capacitors differ from their polarized counterparts as they lack a specific positive and negative pole. Understanding the various types of non-polar capacitors is essential to harness their capabilities. Let’s delve into three common types of non-polar capacitors:

1. Tantalum Capacitors

Tantalum capacitors are renowned for their high capacity and reliability. With their compact size, they are ideal for use in electronic devices where space is limited. Unlike electrolytic capacitors, tantalum capacitors are less prone to leakage, making them suitable for long-term usage.

2. Ceramic Capacitors

Ceramic capacitors, including multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCC), offer versatility and are available in various styles. MLCCs are widely used in electronic circuits due to their high capacitance values and small form factor. However, they can exhibit piezoelectric effects under specific conditions, affecting their performance.

3. Mica Capacitors

Mica capacitors excel in high-frequency applications, providing excellent stability and minimal signal distortion. These capacitors, manufactured from mica and metal layers, offer a reliable option for circuits that require precision and minimal signal distortion.

Now that we have explored the different types of non-polar capacitors, let’s dive into the essential knowledge of combining them effectively.

The Basics of Combining Non-Nonpolar Capacitors

Nonpolar capacitors, unlike their polarized counterparts, can be connected in any orientation. However, combining non nonpolar capacitors in series or parallel configurations is necessary to achieve the desired capacitance value.

Series Connection

When connecting nonpolar capacitors in series, the positive terminal of one capacitor is connected to the negative terminal of the next capacitor. The total capacitance in a series connection can be calculated using the formula:

1/C_total = 1/C1 + 1/C2 + 1/C3 + …

In a series connection, the individual capacitance values are reciprocal to the sum of the reciprocals of the individual capacitances. This configuration is useful when a single capacitor is not readily available to provide the desired total capacitance.

Parallel Connection

In a parallel connection, the positive terminals of all capacitors are connected, as well as the negative terminals. The total capacitance of a parallel combination is simply the sum of the individual capacitances:

C_total = C1 + C2 + C3 + …

Connecting capacitors in parallel increases the total capacitance of the circuit. This configuration is beneficial when a higher capacitance value is required or when distributing the load over several capacitors.

Advantages and Applications of Non-Nonpolar Capacitor Combinations

Combining non-nonpolar capacitors offers several advantages and enables customization to meet specific circuit requirements.

Increased Voltage Handling

By combining nonpolar capacitors, you can achieve increased voltage handling capabilities in your circuit. Series connections of capacitors with lower voltage ratings can handle higher voltages when combined.

Customized Capacitance

Combining nonpolar capacitors allows you to tailor the capacitance to your specific needs. By selecting capacitors with different capacitance values and connecting them in series or parallel, you can create a customized capacitance that suits your circuit requirements.

Efficient Space Utilization

Nonpolar capacitors are available in various sizes, and combining them enables efficient space utilization in electronic circuits. By selecting capacitors with smaller physical footprints, you can save valuable space on your PCB while still achieving the desired capacitance.


Combining nonpolar capacitors can also be a cost-effective solution. Instead of purchasing a single capacitor with the exact capacitance required, you can combine multiple capacitors with lower capacitance values, which may be more readily available and less expensive.

Non nonpolar capacitor combinations find applications in various electronic circuits, including audio amplifiers, power supplies, and switching applications. By strategically combining nonpolar capacitors, you can improve circuit performance, enhance signal integrity, and meet the specific requirements of your applications.

Step-by-Step Guide for Combining Non-Nonpolar Capacitors

To effectively combine non nonpolar capacitors, follow these steps:

Gather the Required Material

Before starting, gather the necessary materials:

  • Non nonpolar capacitors of desired capacitance values
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • Breadboard or Printed Circuit Board (PCB)
  • Connecting wires
  • Multimeter (optional, for measuring capacitance)

Determine the Desired Capacitance

Identify the required capacitance for your specific application. Evaluate the capacitance values needed to meet the circuit’s specifications. Calculate the total capacitance by adding up the individual capacitance values of the capacitors selected for combination. Ensure that the combined capacitance aligns with the intended purpose and performance criteria of your circuit.

Check Voltage Ratings

Verify the voltage ratings for the capacitors to confirm compatibility with your application. Ensure that the combined voltage across the capacitors does not exceed their voltage ratings. This precautionary step is essential to prevent potential overvoltage issues and ensure the safe operation of the capacitors within their specified limits.

Series or Parallel Connection

Decide whether to connect the nonpolar capacitors in series or parallel, depending on your circuit requirements. For a series connection, connect the positive terminal of one capacitor to the negative terminal of the next capacitor. Use the formula mentioned earlier to calculate the total capacitance of the series combination.

For a parallel connection, connect the positive terminals of all capacitors, as well as the negative terminals. The total capacitance of the parallel combination is the sum of the individual capacitances.


Once the capacitors are arranged in the desired configuration, solder the connections to make them permanent. Ensure that the solder joints are secure and free from any shorts. Follow proper soldering techniques, such as precise terminal alignment, even solder application, and the use of a temperature-controlled soldering iron to prevent damage.

Testing the Combined Capacitor

Measure the capacitance of the combined capacitors using a multimeter to verify that it matches the calculated or desired value. This step ensures the accuracy of the combined capacitance and helps identify any issues with the connections or individual capacitors.

Application Considerations

Consider physical size and space requirements when using the combined capacitor in a compact circuit. Take note of the equivalent series resistance (ESR) of the combined capacitors, as it may affect performance in certain applications. For high-frequency circuits, a lower ESR is often preferable for optimal signal integrity. Therefore, when combining capacitors, be mindful of these factors to ensure compatibility and effectiveness within the intended application.

Installation on a Circuit Board

Install the combined capacitor in your circuit, observing proper polarity if applicable, and ensuring that it meets the voltage and capacitance requirements. Securely mount the capacitor on the circuit board, avoiding any mechanical stress. Inspect the soldered connections post-installation to ensure proper bonding and the absence of shorts.

Common Faults with Non-polar Capacitors

To ensure smooth operation, it is essential to avoid common mistakes when working with non-polar capacitors. Let’s explore pitfalls to avoid and how to troubleshoot common capacitor problems:

Avoiding Common Pitfalls

Common mistakes with non-polar capacitors include neglecting voltage readings, incorrect polarization, and ignoring the effect of temperature on performance. Being aware of these pitfalls facilitates smoother work with non-polar capacitors.

Troubleshooting and Solutions

If problems arise, troubleshooting capacitor-related issues involves checking connections, ensuring proper polarization, and verifying capacitor readings. Understanding common challenges empowers you to address them effectively and maintain circuit integrity.

By avoiding common mistakes and being prepared to troubleshoot, you can confidently integrate non-polar capacitors into your electronic projects.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: What is the use of nonpolar capacitors?

Nonpolar capacitors find applications in circuits for coupling, decoupling, feedback, compensation, and oscillation. Their ability to be connected in any orientation makes them versatile components in circuit design.

Q2: What do capacitors on a circuit board do?

Capacitors on a circuit board store energy, smooth voltage fluctuations, stabilize power supplies, decouple circuit components, set frequencies in oscillators, couple AC signals while blocking DC components, and contribute to signal processing, voltage regulation, and motor starting.

Q3: How to choose between series and parallel connections for a circuit?

The choice between a series or parallel configuration depends on the specific requirements of your circuit. Opt for a series connection when you need to increase the overall voltage rating while maintaining capacitance. Choose a parallel connection when seeking to increase overall capacitance while keeping the voltage rating constant.

Q4: What are Printed Circuit Board Capacitors?

Printed Circuit Board (PCB) capacitors are capacitors used on PCBs. The selection of capacitors for PCBs depends on circuit needs, space constraints, and considerations for cost and performance. Common types used include ceramic capacitors for compact and stable performance in decoupling and filtering and electrolytic capacitors for power supply applications.


Non-polar capacitors are fascinating components with unique properties that expand circuit design possibilities. From understanding the types of non-polar capacitors to exploring effective combinations and applications, this comprehensive guide equips you with the knowledge to master the intricacies of non-polar capacitors. Whether you are a seasoned electronics enthusiast or a novice in the field, the power of non-polar capacitors awaits your exploration. Embrace the world of capacitor combinations and unleash their potential in your electronic projects.

By following these step-by-step instructions, you can efficiently combine non nonpolar capacitors to achieve desired capacitance values and optimize the performance of your electronic circuits.


Leave a Comment