Car Audio Capacitors Are a Waste of Money

After you have discharged the capacitor due to heavy power draw, the capacitor will need to recharge. How does it recharge? Well, the capacitor sits in between your battery and your amplifier. Once the capacitor is discharged, it will attempt to charge itself by drawing power from your battery. Then, when the amp needs power, the capacitor will supply current from the battery as well as any “extra” current it has saved up. Once its discharged, the vicious cycle continues.

Most common car audio capacitors are rated at 1 farad, while I’ve seen some reach as high as 5, 10, 20, and higher. No matter how high the rating, a capacitor will still hamper performance. This is because capacitors cannot supply the needed current for any extended duration of time. When your amplifier needs current, it will suck the capacitor dry in less than one second, leaving your capacitor to use your battery to charge up again. Once the capacitor is charged, that extra current can then be transferred onto the amp.

See where I’m going now? If a capacitor can only hold a charge for less than one second, while drawing substantial amounts of current from your battery in an attempt to charge back up while delaying power the amp, then what is the point? There is none. Capacitors are known in the car audio community as a marketing ploy to make people think they need something, when in reality, they really don’t. Take your money and invest it in a second battery. A capacitor these days runs between $50-$80. Add a few more dollars and you can get a second battery, which will supply your amplifier with much more power than a capacitor ever could, while not straining your electrical system.

Pros and Cons of Non Audio and Audio Capacitors

What Are Capacitors?

Capacitors, or condensers, can be defined as a electrical components which are used for storing charge in an electrical field. In professional terms, this is a device which simulates the functions of battery at micro level in an electrical circuit.

How Capacitors works?

In basic terms, the common audio capacitor manufactures produces components which works on the concepts of potential difference. When there is difference in electrical potential of two conductors, the electric field develops. Due to this, the positive charge deposits on one conductor, leaving negative charge on another. This makes it to store energy which is utilized in various ways in electrical & electronic circuits.

Types of Common Conductors

The commonly used capacitors are described here briefly along with pros & cons.

Metalized Film Capacitor

In Metalized Film Capacitor, thin metal film is used as the capacitor through which current is passed.

Pros – These are smaller in size as thin film is used in place of conducting plates.

Cons – Thin films reduces current carrying capacity to a remarkable extend, thus limiting its capabilities.

Aluminium Electrolytic Capacitor

Bi-Polar Aluminium Electrolytic Capacitor Manufacturers produce capacitors with aluminum electrolyte in order to improve efficiency.

Pros – Durable, stable electrical parameters, Lower ESR

Cons – Low Voltage & Limited transient, lower reverse voltage tolerance, can burst in extreme parameters

Non Polar Electrolytic Capacitor

None Polar Electrolytic Capacitor Suppliers often adds special chemical to improve performance of capacitors. However, they still suffer from certain major disadvantages.

Pros – Size is smaller, good for long term use, stable on voltage fluctuations

Cons – can’t tolerate extreme voltage, current carrying capacity is limited, can explode upon excessive heating

Audio Capacitor

Audio Capacitor is not a special category of division. Instead, it is a commercial name for those capacitors which are used for audio circuits. One can fit any suitable capacitor as per the needs & purpose of circuit.

Film Capacitor

Film Capacitor is a special type in which thin film is used to replace solid conductor plates of traditional style capacitors. This makes size extremely portable & increases the durability as well. However, certain drawbacks are still attached with it.

Pros – size is small, fit for micro size circuits, predictable & stable behavior in various cases

Cons – self hearting, overheating on high voltage, limited current carrying ability

Electrolytic Capacitors

In broad terms, electrolyte capacitor plays a vital role. This is used as the standard to test other capacitors. Also, it is basic level capacitor which is commonly used in labs for elementary experiments.

Pros – Large voltage carrying capacity, reliable results, stable behavior, cost effective

Cons – Leakage in most cases, require care & maintenance, overheating on wrong polarization, failure on wrong use

Speaker Capacitor

Speaker Capacitor is more an application than being a specific type. So, no specific pros & cons can be talked about. However, they are limited in their action of current carrying. Applying excessive voltage may lead to failure.