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Understanding the color code of a capacitor

In the design of capacitors today, almost all of them have their actual values of capacitance, voltage, or tolerance marked onto their body in form of alphanumeric characters. Today you’ll get to know the color codes of a capacitor in tabular and also the voltage color code of a capacitor.

capacitor color code

Read more: Understanding capacitor

Capacitor color codes

The color codes of capacitors are marked on their body so that they can be easily characterized and understand by electricians. These color codes indicate the value of capacitance, voltage, and tolerance of the capacitor. When a value of capacitance is marked as a decimal value, the decimal point will not be easily noticed. This will result in a misreading of the actual capacitance value. Instead of letters like p (pico) or n (nano), decimal points are used to identify the position and the weight of the number.

Let take for instance, a capacitor can be marked as, n47 = 0.47nF, 4n7 = 4.7nF or 47n = 47nF and so on. Also, capacitors are sometimes marked with the capital letter K to signify a value of one thousand pico-Farads, so, a capacitor of 100K would be 100 x 1000pF or 100nF. The confusion of the labeled letters, numbers, and decimal points can reduce by using the international color-coding scheme. It was developed many years ago as a simple way of identifying capacitor values and tolerances. It consists of a color band, that is in spectral order, known as the capacitor color code system.

Capacitor color code table

The table below shows the color code of capacitors:

Band Colour Digit A Digit B Multiplier D Tolerance (T) > 10pf Tolerance (T) < 10pf Temperature Coefficient (TC)
Black 0 0 x1 ± 20% ± 2.0pF
Brown 1 1 x10 ± 1% ± 0.1pF -33×10-6
Red 2 2 x100 ± 2% ± 0.25pF -75×10-6
Orange 3 3 x1,000 ± 3% -150×10-6
Yellow 4 4 x10,000 ± 4% -220×10-6
Green 5 5 x100,000 ± 5% ± 0.5pF -330×10-6
Blue 6 6 x1,000,000 -470×10-6
Violet 7 7 -750×10-6
Grey 8 8 x0.01 +80%,-20%
White 9 9 x0.1 ± 10% ± 1.0pF
Gold x0.1 ± 5%
Silver x0.01 ± 10%

Read more: Understanding capacitance in AC circuits

Capacitor Voltage Color Code Table

Band Colour Voltage Rating (V)
Type J Type K Type L Type M Type N
Black 4 100 10 10
Brown 6 200 100 1.6
Red 10 300 250 4 35
Orange 15 400 40
Yellow 20 500 400 6.3 6
Green 25 600 16 15
Blue 35 700 630 20
Violet 50 800
Grey 900 25 25
White 3 1000 2.5 3
Gold 2000
Silver

Read more: Understanding the charge in a capacitor

Capacitor Voltage Reference

Type J – Dipped Tantalum Capacitors.

K – Mica Capacitors.

L – Polyester/Polystyrene Capacitors.

M – Electrolytic 4 Band Capacitors.

N – Electrolytic 3 Band Capacitors.

The use of capacitor color code is given as:

Metalized Polyester Capacitor

Disc & Ceramic Capacitor

Disc & Ceramic Capacitor

Read more: Understanding Capacitor Voltage Divider

However, the capacitor color code system is not present in use. It was employed a long time ago on unpolarized polyester and mica molded capacitors. But there are still many old capacitors around which is why the color code system is still necessary. Nowadays, capacitors such as disk and film types conform to the BS1852 standard and its new replacement, BS EN 60062. The color system has been replaced by a latter or number-coded system.

Normally, the code is of 2 or 3 numbers and an optional tolerance letter code to identify the tolerance. When two number code is used, the value of the capacitor is given in picofarads, for example, 47 = 47pF and 100 = 100pF, etc. For a three later code, it consists of two value digits and a multiplier just like the resistor color codes in the resistors section. Let take for instance, the digits 471 = 47*10 = 470pF. You should know that three-digit codes are often accompanied by an additional tolerance latter code.

Capacitor Tolerance Letter Codes Table

The table below shows the capacitor tolerance latter codes:

Letter B C D F G J K M Z
Tolerance C <10pF ±pF 0.1 0.25 0.5 1 2
C >10pF ±% 0.5 1 2 5 10 20 +80 -20

Consider the capacitor below, it is a ceramic disc type that has the code 473J labeled on its body. So, the 4 is the 1st digit, 7 is the 2nd digit, and the 3 is the multiplier in pico-Farads, pF, and the letter J is the tolerance. This can be translated to 47pF * 1,000 (3 zero’s) = 47,000 pF or 0.047uF and the J represents tolerance of +/- 5%.

ceramic capacitor diagram

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Read more: Understanding the dielectric of a capacitor

Now you can see using numbers and letters as codes on the body of capacitors makes it easy to determine their value. Their capacitance values are either in pico-Farad’s, Nano-farads, or Micro-farads. All of these international codes are given in the following table and their equivalent capacitance.

Capacitor Letter Codes Table

The table below shows the international codes for pico-Farad’s, Nano-farads, or Micro-farads and their equivalent capacitance.

Picofarad (pF) Nanofarad (nF) Microfarad (uF) Code Picofarad (pF) Nanofarad (nF) Microfarad (uF) Code
10 0.01 0.00001 100 4700 4.7 0.0047 472
15 0.015 0.000015 150 5000 5.0 0.005 502
22 0.022 0.000022 220 5600 5.6 0.0056 562
33 0.033 0.000033 330 6800 6.8 0.0068 682
47 0.047 0.000047 470 10000 10 0.01 103
100 0.1 0.0001 101 15000 15 0.015 153
120 0.12 0.00012 121 22000 22 0.022 223
130 0.13 0.00013 131 33000 33 0.033 333
150 0.15 0.00015 151 47000 47 0.047 473
180 0.18 0.00018 181 68000 68 0.068 683
220 0.22 0.00022 221 100000 100 0.1 104
330 0.33 0.00033 331 150000 150 0.15 154
470 0.47 0.00047 471 200000 200 0.2 254
560 0.56 0.00056 561 220000 220 0.22 224
680 0.68 0.00068 681 330000 330 0.33 334
750 0.75 0.00075 751 470000 470 0.47 474
820 0.82 0.00082 821 680000 680 0.68 684
1000 1.0 0.001 102 1000000 1000 1.0 105
1500 1.5 0.0015 152 1500000 1500 1.5 155
2000 2.0 0.002 202 2000000 2000 2.0 205
2200 2.2 0.0022 222 2200000 2200 2.2 225
3300 3.3 0.0033 332 3300000 3300 3.3 335

Read more: Understanding the dielectric of a capacitor

Watch the video below to learn the color code of capacitors:

That is all for this article where the color codes of capacitors have been discussed. I hope you get a lot from the reading, if so, kindly share with other students. Thanks for reading, see you around!

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