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Solid capacitors: what are they?

FeaturedSolid capacitors: what are they?

Some motherboards bundle this concept of capacitor, placing a notice that says “solid capacitors” like an advantage. So, are they different from conventional capacitors? Electrolytic capacitors are one of the main causes of electronic waste because their lifetime is defined with two parameters: temperature and hours of use. Higher temperature, more damage and then, your beloved electronic device fails. That permits to develop an equation of expected life since the manufacturer normally provides interrelated data.

For discovering what's all about with solid capacitors, perhaps it's a good idea to check Nichicon Corporation datasheets, one of the main world providers of capacitors, based in Japan.

As expected, Nichicon has a great variety of solid capacitors to choose from. However, the first warning to electronic waste appears: “Load life of 2000 hours at 105°C”. It's clearly shown in the datasheet of one the cheapest solid capacitors, the Nichicon CF series.

Any avid reader could be thinking how easy is for manufacturers to schedule a last day for your electronic device! Some of them even strategically place the capacitors within little ovens (heat-sinks, voltage regulators, transformers, …) at the printed circuit board.

Let's continue with manufacturer specifications, this time with the CS series of solid caps. Nichicon specifies long lifetime for this series, and then looking other time in the datasheet says: “Load life of 5000 hours at 105°C”. The surprise comes reading the datasheet of another new “long life” series (CP) of Nichicon electrolytic capacitor, it clearly states: “Load life of 10000 hours at 105°C”.

Gigabyte, other top manufacturer in its field, could have some observations. It asseverates that solid capacitors have 6x longer lifespan, higher tolerance for high frequencies and temperature and avoid potential risks to the board because these don't explode like electrolytic ones.

This article should be old, nevertheless the interesting information is the different performance of solid and electrolytic capacitors at low temperatures. They could stand higher ones similarly, although the electronic board usually operates at temperatures below 65ºC.

Conclusion: this area is constantly developing new products, and in some situations an electrolytic capacitor could be better than a solid one. Anyway, in general terms, a solid capacitor should imply much better lifespan of the electronic device.

We always suggest that if the electronic device fails, the main suspects might be the capacitors. Then, as they are relatively cheap and easy of installing, contacting a technician could give you another years of use and less electronic waste for the planet.

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