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Circuit Notes

How to Read a Capacitor

How to decipher capacitor codes

When working with electronics, one of the more daunting and tedious – yet necessary – tasks is figuring out. There are many different types of capacitors, but typically most do not have color coding like resistors. Some capacitors will have their capacitance and voltage ratings printed directly on the component, but some may have a three or four digit code. Here's a clear explanation of what these codes mean and how to read them. Resistor

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Electrolytic Capacitor

These polarity-sensitive capacitors are the easiest to decipher because their value and maximum voltage ratings are listed directly on the metal component "can". The negative side (-) is usually clearly marked with the negative side being the shorter lead and the positive side (+) being the longer lead.
Tantalum Capacitor

Tantalum Capacitor

These brightly colored "gumdrop" capacitors are polarity-sensitive, where the positive lead (+) is longer than the negative (-). Tantalum capacitors usually have the capacitance value, maximum voltage rating and polarity printed right on the component.

Monolithic Capacitor

Monolithic Capacitor

These non-polar capacitors have equal length leads that can be installed in either direction and come in many colors. The chart illustrates how to determine their value using the three-number and letter code found on most monolithic capacitors.

General Capacitor Codebreaker


Common Capacitor Code PicoFarad (pF) NanoFarad (nF) MicroFarad (mF/.µF/mfd)
102 1000 1 or 1n 0.001
152 1500 1.5 or 1n5 0.0015
222 2200 2.2 or 2n2 0.0022
332 3300 3.3 or 3n3 0.0033
472 4700 4.7 or 4n7 0.0047
682 6800 6.8 or 6n8 0.0068
103 10000 10 or 10n 0.01
153 15000 15 or 15n 0.015
223 22000 22 or 22n 0.022
333 33000 33 or 33n 0.033
473 47000 47 or 47n 0.047
683 68000 68 or 68n 0.068
104 100000 100 or 100n 0.1
154 150000 150 or 150n 0.15
224 220000 220 or 220n 0.22
334 330000 330 or 330n 0.33
474 470000 470 or 470n 0.47


Capacitor Code Chart with Tolerances


Value (First and Second significant figures) Multiplier Letter Tolerance
0 1 B ±0.1pF
1 10 C ±0.25pF
2 102 D ±0.5pF
3 103 F ±1%
4 104 G ±2%
5 105 H ±3%
6 N/A I ±5%
7 N/A K ±10%
8 0.01 M ±20%
9 0.1 Z ±80% / -20%