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Capacitor vs Inductor | Difference between Capacitor and Inductor

This page compares Capacitor vs Inductor and mentions difference between Capacitor and Inductor.


The electronic component capacitor is used to store electric charge. In its simplest form, it consists of two parallel metal plates separated by insulator called dielectric. It does not allow direct current to flow through it. It allows alternating current through it.

capacitor symbol

The figure-1 depicts various symbols of capacitor viz. fixed, variable and polarized. Polarized capacitor should be connected such that current enters through its positive terminal. Non-polarized capacitor can be connected in the circuit either way around.
Capacitor basics >>

There are various units of capacitors such as Farads, µF, nF and pF. In practice, capacitance ranges from 1pF to about 150,000 µF. When selecting capacitor for particular job, parameters such as its value, tolerance and stability are considered.


In simple form, an inductor is coil of wire with a core of either air or a magnetic material such as iron. The inductor with magnetic core has much larger inductance compare to air-cored one. More are the turns on the coil, the greater the inductance. Inductors oppose changing current and are said to have inductance denoted by "L".


The various units of inductance measurement are henry, mH(milli-henry) and µH (micro-henry).
Inductor basics >>

Difference between capacitor and inductor

Following table mentions difference between capacitor and inductor.

Capacitor Inductor
It blocks direct current It blocks alternating current
It passes alternating current It passes direct current
Voltage in capacitor can not change instantly. Current in inductor can not change instantly.
Quick voltage change generates large current. Quick current change generates large voltage.
It stores energy in electric field (E). It stores energy in magnetic field (H).
It conducts best at high frequencies. It conducts best at low frequencies.
Unit of capacitor is farads. Unit of inductor is henries.
Major types of capacitor include ceramic capacitor, electrolytic capacitor and tantalum capacitor. Major types of inductor include multilayer inductor, ceramic core inductor and coupled inductor.
In capacitor, voltage lags behind current. In inductor, current lags behind voltage.
Capacitive reactance (XC) = 1/(2*πf*C) Inductive reactance (XL) = 2*πf*L
For multiple capacitors in series, total capacitance, (1/C) = (1/C1) + (1/C2) + ...... + (1/Cn) For multiple inductors in series, total inductance, L = L1 + L2 + ...... + Ln
Assumption: no mutual inductance between them
For multiple capacitors in parallel, total capacitance, C = C1 + C2 + ...... + Cn For multiple inductors in parallel, total inductance, (1/L) = (1/L1) + (1/L2) + ...... + (1/Ln)
Assumption: no mutual inductance between them


Variable capacitor  Variable resistor  Transformer basics and types  Ohm law  Resistor basics  Electrolytic capacitor  Capacitor basics  Inductor basics  Relay  Reed Switch  SCR or thyristor  Halfwave rectifier vs Fullwave rectifier 

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