How To Discharge Capacitors

A capacitor is very important in most of your electric devices. It serves the devices by storing enough energy to power the tools up. However, there always come a time that a capacitor is removed or uninstalled from its components. When this happens, the electrical currents stored in it are not discharged automatically. Hence, a fatal accidental electrocution can happen. To avoid this from occurring, it is important that a capacitor is discharged correctly when removed from its device. To help you do this, check out this following guide:

  • Know the safety precautions when dealing with a capacitor. A mishandled capacitor can be deadly to you. Hence, it is not at all a good idea to work on discharging it without the proper gears. This is especially true if you are discharging a capacitor that has a high voltage. Therefore, before you go on with the task, make sure you are wearing protective goggles and highly insulated gloves. Also, make sure you use the right tools to do this task and do not try to improvise materials unless they are very trusted and efficient.
  • Use screwdrivers that have insulated handles. This is one of the easiest ways to discharge capacitors. However, this one is not recommended unless you are an experienced electrician or mechanic. To do this, simply put the tip of two screwdrivers on each lead terminal of the capacitor. This simple step can already discharge a simple capacitor but definitely not the high voltage ones.
  • Remove the power off the capacitor. This is only helpful for low voltage capacitors. Taking the power off the capacitor will already drain the power bit by bit. However, this method is not a quick solution. It can take half an hour or more to drain all what is in inside the capacitor. With this, it is not a safe method to consider.
  • Find materials that can dissipate the energy inside the capacitor. Anything that can dissipate the capacitor's power to heat, sound, or light will help in draining the device. One good item is a 12-volt light bulb. You have to connect this bulb to the capacitor o it can start draining the energy. Once the bulb is powered up, it will easily drain the capacitor. For larger capacitors, it is best to use a tool that needs more power such as an amplifier or an electric motor.
  • Test if the capacitor is already drained. To know if the capacitor is discharged completely, you can use the light bulb testing method. If you touch the terminal of the capacitor with the bulb, the bulb will light up if there is still some energy left. If not, you are good to go. However, a small amount of residual energy in the capacitor is already safe to handle so you do not have to worry much about draining the capacitor up until the last drop.

A capacitor, once not handled correctly, can bring in fatal effects to anyone. Hence, it is very important that it is discharged of its stored energy prior to disposal or when not in use. This way, you can have peace of mind that no one will fall victim to any accident related to a not-properly discharged capacitor.


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