The technical Wikipedia definition of a capacitor is “a passive two-terminal electrical component used to store energy in an electric field”. A simple translation of that is a storage tank. If you put a voltage across it a capacitor will store your voltage even after you’ve removed the voltage source. As it turns out this behavior can be used in a lot of applications but we’ll mainly be using it to smooth out power supplies in our projects.
For our basic needs we really only need to know 3 stats on our capacitors
|Voltage Rating||The maximum working voltage that you can apply to the capacitor. Do not exceed this. It’s best to give yourself some room and not push it to the limit.|
|Capacitance||The storage capacity of the capacitor.|
|Polarity||If polarized a capacitor will have some marking or symbol to indicate which lead is which. Always refer to the datasheet.|
One additional stat that is important to know for more advanced applications is the type of capacitor. There are many different types of dielectric materials that can be used in capacitors and each have their strengths and weaknesses. This makes certain kinds of capacitors better for certain applications than others. When that’s important to know we’ll be sure to point it out but for this introduction just be aware that there are different types of capacitors.