Combining Non-polar Capacitors
Combining Non-polar Capacitors

In the world of electronics, capacitors play a crucial role in circuit design and functionality. Non-polar capacitors, in particular, offer unique advantages and can be combined in various ways to meet specific circuit requirements. This comprehensive guide will explore the methods and best practices for combining non-polar capacitors, ensuring optimal performance in your electronic projects.

What Are Non-Polar Capacitors

Non-polar capacitors, unlike their polar counterparts, do not have a designated positive or negative terminal. This feature allows them to be used in AC (alternating current) applications and in scenarios where the polarity of the voltage they are subjected to might change.

Why Combine Non-Polar Capacitors?

Combining non-polar capacitors can increase total capacitance or adjust the voltage rating of a circuit. This is particularly useful in custom or specialized electronic designs where specific capacitance or voltage requirements must be met.

Combining in Parallel for Increased Capacitance

a. The Basics

When non-polar capacitors are connected in parallel, their capacitances add up. This means that the total capacitance is the sum of the individual capacitances of the capacitors used.

b. Practical Application

Parallel combination is used when a higher capacitance is required in the circuit without changing the voltage rating.

Combining in Series for Higher Voltage Rating

a. The Basics

Connecting non-polar capacitors in series increases the overall voltage rating of the combination. In this setup, the reciprocal of the total capacitance is the sum of the reciprocals of the individual capacitances.

b. Practical Application

This method is useful in applications where the circuit needs to withstand higher voltages.

Mixed Combination: Best of Both Worlds

a. Increased Voltage and Capacitance

A mixed combination of series and parallel connections can be used to simultaneously increase both the voltage rating and the capacitance.

b. Selecting the Right Capacitors

It’s crucial to select capacitors that can effectively handle the intended increase in voltage and capacitance.

Important Considerations

a. Voltage Ratings

Always consider the voltage ratings of the capacitors being combined to ensure that they can handle the required voltage without failure.

b. Capacitor Quality

The quality and type of non-polar capacitors are vital factors in their performance and suitability for certain applications.

Troubleshooting and Common Issues

a. Mismatched Capacitances

Mismatched capacitances in a series combination can lead to uneven voltage distribution, potentially damaging the capacitors.

b. Voltage Overload

Exceeding the voltage rating of capacitors in a parallel combination can lead to capacitor failure.

Safety Precautions

Always ensure that the capacitors are discharged before working with them to avoid the risk of electric shock. Additionally, double-check the wiring and polarity, even with non-polar capacitors, to ensure correct circuit functionality.


Combining non-polar capacitors can be an effective way to tailor the capacitance and voltage rating to specific needs in electronic circuits. Understanding the principles of parallel and series combinations, along with mixed combinations, allows for flexibility and precision in circuit design.


Q1: Can non-polar capacitors be used in DC circuits?

Yes, non-polar capacitors can be used in both AC and DC circuits due to their lack of polarity.

Q2: How does combining capacitors in series affect the voltage rating?

Combining capacitors in series increases the overall voltage rating, allowing the combination to withstand higher voltages.

Q3: What happens if you exceed the voltage rating of a capacitor?

Exceeding the voltage rating can lead to capacitor failure and potential damage to the circuit.

Q4: Is it better to combine capacitors in series or parallel?

The choice depends on the circuit requirements. Parallel increases capacitance, while series increases voltage rating.

Q5: Can mixed combinations be used for any type of non-polar capacitor?

Not all non-polar capacitors are suitable for mixed combinations. It’s important to select capacitors that can handle the increased voltage and capacitance​​​​​​​​​​.

Eric Chan

Hi! I’m Eric and I work on the knowledge base at  You can see some of my writings about technology, cellphone repair, and computer repair here.

When I’m not writing about tech I’m playing with my dog or hanging out with my girlfriend.

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