Last Updated on October 22, 2023 by Kevin Chen
Radial vs Axial Capacitor: What’s The Difference?
Are you in the market looking for electrolytic capacitors? There are two options that you are likely to come across: radial capacitor and axial capacitor. From a general outlook, you will easily assume that the only thing that differentiates them is their shape and structure.
Other than the physical features, how do these two capacitor types compare in terms of performance? Are they interchangeable and which one should I choose?
To find the answer, we are going to break down the differences between radial capacitors vs axial capacitors. We will also advise you on which capacitor type to choose and for which application.
Whether you are seeking to buy capacitors for a personal project or you are in the business and would want to buy capacitors in bulk, this is a perfect guide for you. We will also give you tips on where to buy radial and axial capacitors in China.
Overview of radial capacitors
Image source Retroamplis
Radial capacitors are types of electrolytic capacitors whose leads extend from the bottom end of the capacitor outwards or radially. This capacitor is quite common in applications where you want to achieve high capacitance without spending too much.
In terms of structure and design, radial capacitors have two poles, positive and negative. Their designs allow them to be suitable for both through-hole and surface-mount packaging types on the PCBs. They feature an aluminum foil which acts as the electrode and an electrolyte which serves as the cathode.
Radial capacitors come in a wide range of capacitance values and hence are suitable for a wide range of applications. Their compact size and designs make them suitable to be used in audio amplifiers. A major complaint about radial capacitors is they are prone to electrolyte leakage.
Overview of axial capacitors
Image source Vishay Technologies
Axial capacitors are named so because of the way their leads are attached to their bodies. The leads come out through both ends of the caps in parallel directions. The axial alignment of the leads gives these capacitors compact designs hence can fit into small spaces.
When it comes to installing these capacitors into electric circuits, you must take note of the leads so as to ensure they are safely connected.
Axial capacitors feature a cylindrical design with two terminals extending at the ends of the two sides. They also come in different capacitance and voltage ratings; a feature that makes them suitable for a wide range of applications.
Radial vs axial capacitors: Leads
The main feature that separates radial capacitors from radial capacitors is the way their leads are connected to their bodies.
For a typical radial capacitor, its leads are evenly spaced such that they are connected on the same side of the capacitor’s body. The leads run outwards off the capacitor body. The fact that these leads are spaced apart gives enough room for you to attach the capacitor on the PCB.
For the axial capacitor, the leads are attached to the ends of the capacitor and end up forming parallel-like lines. These leads are designed to be very close and they allow you to connect the capacitor on the PCB through holes.
Physical dimensions: Radial vs axial capacitors
In terms of electronics, we cannot conclude that one type of capacitor is larger than the other. This is because both radial and axial capacitors come in different sizes. Keep in mind that the size of any capacitor will depend on its energy capacity.
However, there is a slight difference in the dimension of the two capacitors. Radial capacitors are generally shorter than their axial counterparts. They also tend to be wider. On the other hand, axial capacitors are narrower than radial capacitors. They are also longer.
The physical attributes of a capacitor come in handy when you are designing an electric circuit. If the circuit will be on the PCB, you will have to analyze whether the capacitor will perfectly fit onto the surface of the PCB. Given their dimensions and shapes, either radial or axial capacitor will be a perfect choice depending on the circuit design and the desired results.
Configuration: Radial vs axial capacitor
The two types of capacitors differ in terms of the placement of the leads and how their bodies are oriented. For the radial capacitors, the leads are on the same side of the capacitor’s body. The body orientation of this capacitor allows it to be installed on the PCB at the vertical position. Such a type of configuration gives circuit designers maximum flexibility.
On the other hand, the leads connected to the axial capacitors are connected from the opposite ends of the capacitor. The body orientation of the axial capacitor ensures that it is installed horizontally on the printed circuit board.
By comparing the two configurations, it is clear that radial capacitors are easier to work with than axial capacitors.
Price: Radial vs axial capacitor
If you are planning either of these capacitors, then it will be prudent to compare their price tags.
Radial capacitors are cheaper than axial capacitors. The price difference mainly stems from the nature of the components used in the two.
Regardless of the price difference, where you buy will also determine the cost of the capacitor.
Which capacitor should I choose? Radial vs axial
At this point, we have looked at all the critical areas of comparison between radial capacitors vs axial capacitors. To make the right choice, you simply need to compare the advantages and disadvantages of all the capacitor types.
For example, radial capacitors are easy to work with thanks to their configuration. They are also cheaper than axial capacitors. Axial capacitors on the other hand tend to be more refined and hence have better precision than radial capacitors.
Regardless of the capacitor type that you choose, ensure that it is of high quality. It should be made of premium components and materials. The surest way of getting such quality capacitors is by buying from reputable capacitor suppliers and distributors in China. You should also ensure that the capacitors are sourced from the best manufacturers.
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