How To Test A Capacitor With A Multimeter ( 5 Step Guide)

Want to Learn How to test a capacitor with a multimeter?  Superb you have landed in the right place!

In this ToolGaloreHQ.com blog, we will show you:

  • Different Capacitors and Testing Methodology
  • Equipment required to Test
  • Step by Step Guide
  • And So Much More!
Test Capacitor With Multimeter

Before we carry on and show you how to Test A Capacitor With A Multimeter. Read the table below. 

Why It Matters Testing Capacitor With Multimeter

You may want to learn how to use a multimeter to test a capacitor if you are having problems with your electronic device.

For example, if your device is not turning on, or if it is not working properly, there may be a problem with the capacitor. By testing the capacitor, you can determine if it is the source of the problem and whether or not it requires replacement.

Common Challenges People Face

One of the most common challenges people have when trying to test a capacitor is understanding how to use a multimeter in the first place.

This is further exasperated by then also grappling with how to test each of the different kinds of capacitors and how to adequately interpret the results of each measurement.

If you are not familiar with how to use a multimeter, you may not be able to properly test the capacitor at all. But no need to worry, I have compiled an article that shows you how to use a multimeter effectively

Another challenge people face is knowing what to look for when testing a capacitor. There are several things you can check, such as the voltage and the capacitance, so it is important to know what each of these values means.

Finally, some people find it difficult to determine if there is a problem with the capacitor, and whether or not it needs to be replaced. By understanding how to test a capacitor using a multimeter, you can avoid these common challenges.

In this guide, we will break down all of the above for you step by step so that you are well equipped to test a capacitor with a multimeter.

Before we go into the nitty gritty I know how you feel. You're already overloaded with a lot of information and you don't have time to read another long article on How To Test A Capacitor With A Multimeter.

However I believe this one will be worth your time. In fact, by the time you finish reading this article, you'll be much better equipped with everything you need to test a capacitor with a multimeter.

So please, bear with me for just a few more paragraphs. I think it will be worth it in the end.

What You Need To Know About How To Test A Capacitor With A Multimeter

Different types of capacitors

There are several different types of capacitors, and each one has its own pros and cons. Here is a brief overview of some of the most common types of capacitors. 

Electrolytic capacitors

These capacitors are generally used in high-power applications, such as DC to AC converters. They have a high capacitance value, and they are also relatively cheap. However, they also have a high loss rate, which means they dissipate a lot of energy. They are also prone to failure due to over-voltage or over-current conditions.

Read More>>> Learn About the History of Multimeters

Ceramic capacitors

These capacitors are usually used in low-power applications, such as radios or digital circuits. They have a low capacitance value, but they are also very stable and reliable. They can handle large voltage spikes without easily failing.

Film capacitors

These capacitors are typically used in high-frequency or AC applications. They have a very low loss rate, and they can handle large voltage surges without failing. However, they also have a relatively low capacitance value.

Glass capacitors

These capacitors are usually used in high-voltage applications, such as power supplies. They have a very high capacitance value, but they are also very fragile and can be damaged easily.

Testing Overview - Are All Capacitors Tested The Same Way

No, the way you test a capacitor with a multimeter depends on the type of capacitor. Some capacitors, such as electrolytic capacitors, can be tested with a simple continuity test. Others, such as ceramic capacitors, will need to be tested for capacitance. Film and glass capacitors will need to be tested for impedance. It is important to know which type of capacitor you are testing, and how to test it properly with your multimeter.

How to test capacitor safely

When testing a capacitor, it is important to take proper safety precautions. This means using the correct settings on the multimeter, and making sure that you do not touch any exposed wires or terminals. Also make sure that you are reading the manual of your multimeter before conducting any tests.

It is also important to discharge the capacitor before testing it, to avoid getting shocked. This is critically important as capacitors can store significant amounts of current and can discharge this current very rapidly when short circuited, creating a loud bang or fire hazard in the form of rapid current discharge. This can be very dangerous and harmful, so always make you discharge the capacitor correctly.

capacitors were called condensers


Equipment You Will Need To Effectively Learn How To Test A Capacitor With A Multimeter

To test a capacitor effectively, you will need a couple of items as listed below.

  • Multimeter
  • Capacitor
  • Test leads
  • Alligator clips

Step by Step Guide on How To Test A Capacitor With A Multimeter

Now that you know the basics of testing a capacitor with a multimeter, let's go over a step-by-step guide on how to do it.

Step 1 – Organize all the equipment

You will need to gather all of the necessary equipment. This includes a multimeter, a capacitor, test leads, and alligator clips. Ensure that the alligator clips are large/small enough to grab onto the capacitor terminals.

Step 2 – Connect the multimeter terminals correctly

Fixate the alligator clips onto the terminals of the capacitor. Make sure that they are tightly fastened before taking any readings.

Step 3 – Set your multimeter to the correct setting

Once the multimeter is connected to the capacitor, you will need to set it to the correct settings.

For most capacitors, you will need to set the multimeter to the "capacitance" setting. However depending on your capacitor type this value could be something else as well (see section below “Specific Tests For Specific Capacitors”).

Step 4 – Read and Record the Value

Finally, you will need to take a reading from the multimeter. The reading should be in Farads (F) – if you are measuring in capacitance, and there you go - that simple. But for quality purposes there is one last step.

Step 5 – Sanity Check Results

Once you have taken a reading from the multimeter, you can compare it to the manufacturer's specifications for the capacitor. If the reading is within the specified range, then the capacitor is most likely working correctly.

However, if the reading is outside of the specified range, then the capacitor may be faulty.

Specific Tests For Specific Capacitors

Testing a Capacitor for Continuity

Electrolytic capacitors, can be tested for continuity with a multimeter. To do this, you will need to set the multimeter to the "resistance" or "ohm" setting.

Once the multimeter is set to this setting, you will need to connect one lead of the multimeter to one terminal of the capacitor, and connect the other lead of the multimeter to the other terminal of the capacitor.

If the multimeter reads "0 ohms" or "1", then the capacitor is most likely working correctly. However, if the multimeter reads "infinity" or "-1", then the capacitor may be faulty.

Testing a Capacitor for Capacitance

Ceramic capacitors, will need to be tested for capacitance.

In order to implement this test correctly, you will be required to set the multimeter to the "capacitance" setting.

Once the multimeter is set to this setting, you will need to touch one lead of the multimeter to one terminal of the capacitor, and touch the other lead of the multimeter to the other terminal of the capacitor.

The reading on the multimeter should be in Farads (F). The Farad reading should correlate with the specific rating of the capacitor itself, any value way out of range may indicate a faulty capacitor.

Testing a Capacitor for Impedance

Film and glass capacitors, will need to be tested for impedance.

To do this, you will need to set the multimeter to the "impedance" or "Z" setting. Once the multimeter is set to this setting, connect both leads of the multimeter to the terminals of your film or glass capacitor. The reading on the multimeter should be in Ohms (Ω).

Testing a Capacitor for Leakage

Finally, some capacitors will need to be tested for leakage. To do this, you will need to set the multimeter to the "leakage" or "L" setting. Once the multimeter is set to this setting similar to the previous examples connect the leads to the capacitor.

The reading on the multimeter should be in Microsiemens (µS). If the reading is not in Microsiemens, you may need to consult the manual for your specific model of multimeter.

If you follow these steps, you should be able to test any capacitor with a multimeter. If you encounter any troubles the user manual is always your friend.

It could potentially be that a specific manufacturer records outputs in a specific manner. However this is highly unlikely. The measurements above should generally suffice.

Read More:>>> Find High Quality Pocket Multimeters

Final Thoughts on How To Test A Capacitor With A Multimeter

Testing capacitors is an important step in ensuring that electronic devices are working properly.

By testing a capacitor for continuity, capacitance, impedance, and leakage, you can catch any potential problems before they cause damage to the device. In this article, we have shown you how to test a capacitor with a multimeter.

We have also explained what each of these tests entail and what the results may mean. If you follow these steps, you should be able to test any capacitor with a multimeter.

FAQ

How do I test a capacitor without a multimeter?

If you don't have a multimeter, you can still test a capacitor by using a simple circuit. To do this, you will need a power supply, a resistor, and an LED. First, connect the power supply to the terminals of the capacitor.

Then, connect the resistor to one terminal of the capacitor, and connect the other end of the resistor to the positive lead of the LED. Finally, connect the negative lead of the LED to the other terminal of the capacitor. If the LED lights up, then the capacitor is working correctly. However, if the LED does not light up, then the capacitor may be faulty.

Can I test a capacitor with a multimeter without removing it from the circuit?

Yes, you can test a capacitor without removing it from the circuit. However, you should be aware that this may cause damage to the multimeter. Therefore, it is always best to remove the capacitor from the circuit before testing it.

Can I test a capacitor with an ohmmeter?

No, you cannot test a capacitor with an ohmmeter. An ohmmeter measures resistance, not capacitance. Therefore, it will not give you an accurate reading of a capacitor's value.

Can I test a capacitor with a digital multimeter?

Yes, you can test a capacitor with a digital multimeter. However, the process is slightly different than testing with an analog multimeter. With a digital multimeter, you will need to set the multimeter to the "capacitance" or "C" setting.

Once the multimeter is set to this setting, you will need to touch one lead of the multimeter to one terminal of the capacitor, and touch the other lead of the multimeter to the other terminal of the capacitor. The reading on the multimeter should be in Farads (F).

If the reading is not in Farads, you may need to consult the manual for your specific model of multimeter.

I tested my capacitor and the reading was 0.00, is this normal?

Yes, this is normal. A reading of 0.00 means that the capacitor is working correctly.

My capacitor tested fine, but now it's not working in the circuit. What could be the problem?

There are a few possibilities. First, make sure that you have connected the capacitor in the correct orientation. If the polarity is reversed, the capacitor will not work properly.

Second, make sure that you are using a capacitor with the correct voltage rating for your circuit. If you are using a capacitor with too high of a voltage rating, it may not work properly.

Finally, make sure that your power supply is providing enough current to the circuit. If the power supply is not providing enough current, the capacitor may not receive enough charge and will not work properly.

Mogale Modisane

Mogale Modisane

Mogale is a qualified B(Eng): Electrical Engineer. With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

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Mogale Modisane

Mogale Modisane

Mogale is a qualified B(Eng): Electrical Engineer. With experience working on large-scale Solar, Wind, and Hybrid Projects. He has been exposed to multiple tools throughout his career and has a keen interest in breaking down the often murky world of power tools, machines, and measurement equipment making them more accessible and understandable to everyone.

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