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Capacitor vs. Inductor: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sumera Saeed || Updated on October 18, 2023
A capacitor stores energy in an electric field between conductive plates, while an inductor stores energy in a magnetic field around a coil.

Key Differences

A capacitor is a device that has the primary function of storing energy in an electric field created between two conductive plates. In contrast, an inductor works on the principle of storing energy in a magnetic field, which is generated around a coil or wire when current flows through it.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 18, 2023
Capacitors tend to oppose a change in voltage, making them vital components in smoothing voltage fluctuations in circuits. Inductors, on the other hand, resist changes in current, proving useful in filtering applications where current stabilization is desired.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 18, 2023
In terms of their impedance in AC circuits, capacitors offer a high resistance (or reactance) at low frequencies and low resistance at high frequencies. In contrast, inductors behave oppositely, with high reactance at high frequencies and low reactance at low frequencies.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 18, 2023
The energy stored in a capacitor is given by the formula 0.5 * C * V^2, where C represents the capacitance and V is the voltage across the capacitor. For an inductor, the stored energy is given by 0.5 * L * I^2, where L stands for inductance and I denotes the current flowing through the inductor.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 18, 2023
While capacitors find extensive use in tuning circuits, timing applications, and voltage stabilization, inductors are prominently featured in transformers, motors, and chokes, primarily leveraging their ability to counteract rapid changes in current.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 18, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Principle

Stores energy in electric field
Stores energy in magnetic field
Sumera Saeed
Oct 18, 2023

Response

Opposes change in voltage
Opposes change in current
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Oct 18, 2023

AC Reactance

High at low frequencies, low at high frequencies
Low at low frequencies, high at high frequencies
Sumera Saeed
Oct 18, 2023

Typical Use

Tuning circuits, voltage stabilization
Transformers, motors, chokes
Janet White
Oct 18, 2023

Capacitor and Inductor Definitions

Capacitor

Used to smooth or filter voltage in circuits.
To prevent voltage spikes, a capacitor was added to the setup.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 18, 2023
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Inductor

A device that opposes changes in current flow.
He noticed the inductor was essential for the circuit's frequency response.
Huma Saeed
Oct 18, 2023

Capacitor

A device for accumulating and holding a charge.
He replaced the faulty capacitor in the radio.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 18, 2023

Inductor

A component that introduces inductance in a circuit.
The inductor was wound tightly to achieve the desired inductance value.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 18, 2023

Capacitor

Two plates separated by an insulator for charge storage.
The capacitor held its charge even after the power was turned off.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 18, 2023

Inductor

A coil that stores energy in a magnetic field.
The inductor in the power supply filters the output.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 18, 2023

Capacitor

An element that opposes voltage changes.
The flashing light's timing relies on the capacitor's charge and discharge rate.
Huma Saeed
Oct 18, 2023

Inductor

Used to transform one voltage level to another.
The step-down transformer utilized an inductor to reduce the voltage.
Sara Rehman
Oct 18, 2023

Capacitor

A component that stores electric energy.
The capacitor in the circuit maintains a steady voltage.
Harlon Moss
Oct 18, 2023

Inductor

A coil or winding that exhibits the property of inductance.
The inductor's core material enhanced its magnetic field.
Janet White
Oct 18, 2023

Capacitor

An electric circuit element typically consisting of two metallic plates separated and insulated from each other by a dielectric, used to store charge temporarily or to filter signal frequencies. Also called condenser.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 07, 2016

Inductor

A device that functions by or introduces inductance into an electric circuit.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 07, 2016

Capacitor

(electronics) An electronic component capable of storing electrical energy in an electric field; especially one consisting of two conductors separated by a dielectric.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 07, 2016

Inductor

The chemical reactant that initiates or accelerates an induced reaction and is consumed in the process.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 07, 2016

Capacitor

A device used in electronic circuits to hold electrical charge, consisting of two conducting plates separated by a nonconducting (dielectric) medium; it is characterized by its capacitance.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 07, 2016

Inductor

(electronics) A passive device that introduces inductance into an electrical circuit.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 07, 2016

Capacitor

An electrical device characterized by its capacity to store an electric charge
Sumera Saeed
Feb 07, 2016

Inductor

(medicine) an evocator or an organizer
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Feb 07, 2016

Inductor

The person who inducts another into an office or benefice.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 07, 2016

Inductor

That portion of an electrical apparatus, in which is the inducing charge or current.
Sumera Saeed
Feb 07, 2016

Inductor

An electrical device that introduces inductance into a circuit
Sumera Saeed
Feb 07, 2016

FAQs

How does an inductor store energy?

An inductor stores energy in a magnetic field around its coil.
Huma Saeed
Oct 18, 2023

What is a capacitor's primary function?

A capacitor primarily stores energy in an electric field.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 18, 2023

Can capacitors and inductors work together?

Yes, they can work together, especially in filters and oscillatory circuits.
Janet White
Oct 18, 2023

What happens when a capacitor fails?

A failed capacitor might not hold a charge, leading to circuit malfunction.
Sara Rehman
Oct 18, 2023

What materials are used for capacitor plates?

Capacitor plates can be made of metal foils like aluminum or tantalum.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 18, 2023

What unit is used for inductance?

The unit of inductance is the Henry (H).
Harlon Moss
Oct 18, 2023

Do inductors have resistance?

Yes, inductors have a resistance due to the wire they're wound from.
Harlon Moss
Oct 18, 2023

Why are capacitors used in power supplies?

Capacitors smooth out voltage fluctuations in power supplies.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 18, 2023

In which devices are inductors commonly found?

Inductors are found in transformers, motors, and chokes.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 18, 2023

What's the unit of capacitance?

The unit of capacitance is the Farad (F).
Sumera Saeed
Oct 18, 2023

How do inductors affect AC signals?

Inductors can either allow or oppose AC signals based on their frequency.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 18, 2023

How can capacitors affect circuit timing?

Capacitors can introduce time delays due to their charge and discharge rates.
Harlon Moss
Oct 18, 2023

Can a capacitor block DC current?

Yes, capacitors block DC current and allow AC to pass.
Sara Rehman
Oct 18, 2023

What's a common use for capacitors in digital circuits?

In digital circuits, capacitors are often used for decoupling.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 18, 2023

How can capacitors affect sound quality in audio systems?

Capacitors can influence frequency response and transient behavior in audio systems.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 18, 2023

Are there any safety concerns with large inductors?

Large inductors can store significant energy and pose a risk if rapidly discharged.
Sumera Saeed
Oct 18, 2023

Why might an inductor get warm?

An inductor might get warm due to resistance and core losses.
Janet White
Oct 18, 2023

Can capacitors and inductors have polarity?

While most capacitors don't have polarity, electrolytic capacitors do. Inductors generally don't have polarity.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 18, 2023

Can inductors work in radio-frequency circuits?

Yes, inductors are essential components in radio-frequency circuits.
Sara Rehman
Oct 18, 2023

Why are inductors used in audio circuits?

Inductors filter out high-frequency noise in audio circuits.
Harlon Moss
Oct 18, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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