Capacitor Colour Codes

Generally, the actual values of Capacitance, Voltage or Tolerance are marked onto the body of the capacitors in the form of alphanumeric characters. However, when the value of the capacitance is of a decimal value problems arise with the marking of the “Decimal Point” as it could easily not be noticed resulting in a misreading of the actual capacitance value. Instead letters such as p (pico) or n (nano) are used in place of the decimal point to identify its position and the weight of the number.

For example, a capacitor can be labelled as, n47 = 0.47nF, 4n7 = 4.7nF or 47n = 47nF and so on. Also, sometimes capacitors are marked with the capital letter K to signify a value of one thousand pico-Farads, so for example, a capacitor with the markings of 100K would be 100 x 1000pF or 100nF.

To reduce the confusion regarding letters, numbers and decimal points, an International colour coding scheme was developed many years ago as a simple way of identifying capacitor values and tolerances. It consists of coloured bands (in spectral order) known commonly as the Capacitor Colour Code system and whose meanings are illustrated below:

Capacitor Colour Code Table

Band
Colour
Digit
A
Digit
B
Multiplier
D
Tolerance
(T) > 10pf
Tolerance
(T) < 10pf
Temperature Coefficient
(TC)
Black 0 0 x1 ± 20% ± 2.0pF  
Brown 1 1 x10 ± 1% ± 0.1pF -33×10-6
Red 2 2 x100 ± 2% ± 0.25pF -75×10-6
Orange 3 3 x1,000 ± 3%   -150×10-6
Yellow 4 4 x10,000 ± 4%   -220×10-6
Green 5 5 x100,000 ± 5% ± 0.5pF -330×10-6
Blue 6 6 x1,000,000     -470×10-6
Violet 7 7       -750×10-6
Grey 8 8 x0.01 +80%,-20%    
White 9 9 x0.1 ± 10% ± 1.0pF  
Gold     x0.1 ± 5%    
Silver     x0.01 ± 10%    

Capacitor Voltage Colour Code Table

Band
Colour
Voltage Rating (V)
Type J Type K Type L Type M Type N
Black 4 100   10 10
Brown 6 200 100 1.6  
Red 10 300 250 4 35
Orange 15 400   40  
Yellow 20 500 400 6.3 6
Green 25 600   16 15
Blue 35 700 630   20
Violet 50 800      
Grey   900   25 25
White 3 1000   2.5 3
Gold   2000      
Silver          

Capacitor Voltage Reference

  • Type J  –  Dipped Tantalum Capacitors.
  • Type K  –  Mica Capacitors.
  • Type L  –  Polyester/Polystyrene Capacitors.
  • Type M  –  Electrolytic 4 Band Capacitors.
  • Type N  –  Electrolytic 3 Band Capacitors.

An example of the use of capacitor colour codes is given as:

Metalised Polyester Capacitor

capacitor colour coding

Disc & Ceramic Capacitor

capacitor colour codes

 

The Capacitor Colour Code system was used for many years on unpolarised polyester and mica moulded capacitors. This system of colour coding is now obsolete but there are still many “old” capacitors around. Nowadays, Small Capacitors such as film or disk types conform to the BS1852 Standard and its new replacement, BS EN 60062, were the colours have been replaced by a letter or number coded system.

Generally the code consists of 2 or 3 numbers and an optional tolerance letter code to identify the tolerance. Where a two number code is used the value of the capacitor only is given in picofarads, for example, 47 = 47 pF and 100 = 100pF etc. A three letter code consists of the two value digits and a multiplier much like the resistor colour codes in the resistors section.

For example, the digits 471 = 47*10 = 470pF. Three digit codes are often accompanied by an additional tolerance letter code as given below.

Capacitor Tolerance Letter Codes Table

  Letter B C D F G J K M Z
Tolerance C <10pF ±pF 0.1 0.25 0.5 1 2        
C >10pF ±%     0.5 1 2 5 10 20 +80-20

Consider the capacitor below:

capacitor markings

The capacitor on the left is of a ceramic disc type capacitor that has the code 473J printed onto its body. Then the 4 = 1st digit, the 7 = 2nd digit, the 3 is the multiplier in pico-Farads, pF and the letter J is the tolerance and this translates to:   47pF * 1,000 (3 zero’s) = 47,000 pF , 47nF or 0.047 uF

 the J indicates a tolerance of +/- 5%

 

Then by just using numbers and letters as codes on the body of the capacitor we can easily determine the value of its capacitance either in Pico-farad’s, Nano-farads or Micro-farads and a list of these “international” codes is given in the following table along with their equivalent capacitances.

Capacitor Letter Codes Table

Picofarad
(pF)
Nanofarad
(nF)
Microfarad
(uF)
Code Picofarad
(pF)
Nanofarad
(nF)
Microfarad
(uF)
Code
10 0.01 0.00001 100 4700 4.7 0.0047 472
15 0.015 0.000015 150 5000 5.0 0.005 502
22 0.022 0.000022 220 5600 5.6 0.0056 562
33 0.033 0.000033 330 6800 6.8 0.0068 682
47 0.047 0.000047 470 10000 10 0.01 103
100 0.1 0.0001 101 15000 15 0.015 153
120 0.12 0.00012 121 22000 22 0.022 223
130 0.13 0.00013 131 33000 33 0.033 333
150 0.15 0.00015 151 47000 47 0.047 473
180 0.18 0.00018 181 68000 68 0.068 683
220 0.22 0.00022 221 100000 100 0.1 104
330 0.33 0.00033 331 150000 150 0.15 154
470 0.47 0.00047 471 200000 200 0.2 254
560 0.56 0.00056 561 220000 220 0.22 224
680 0.68 0.00068 681 330000 330 0.33 334
750 0.75 0.00075 751 470000 470 0.47 474
820 0.82 0.00082 821 680000 680 0.68 684
1000 1.0 0.001 102 1000000 1000 1.0 105
1500 1.5 0.0015 152 1500000 1500 1.5 155
2000 2.0 0.002 202 2000000 2000 2.0 205
2200 2.2 0.0022 222 2200000 2200 2.2 225
3300 3.3 0.0033 332 3300000 3300 3.3 335

The next tutorial in our section about Capacitors, we look at connecting together Capacitor in Parallel and see that the total capacitance is the sum of the individual capacitors.


 

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26 Responses to “Capacitor Colour Codes”

  1. Chris

    Alright. Here is what I have. Any help would be appreciated. Small, light blue ceramic capacitor disc, manufacturer is JTE (is what is on the disc anyway. Also, just below the ‘JTE’ is the number 47 and below that is 6kV. Came off of a Polaroid TV, part is: Backlight Inverter Power Supply Unit. Any help is appreciated.

    Reply
    • Wayne Storr

      Hello Chris, as its a power supply component, check whether its a capacitor or varistor, they can look similar. If its a capacitor the 47 probably means 47pF.

      Reply
  2. Mashood Zackariah

    HI Wayne

    I really like the electronic. Please, I want to know. If the smoke comes out the capacitor, I break it?

    Reply
    • Martin

      To Measure capacitance with a MultiMeter you need to first ascertain that you meter can actually measure capacitance, Not all Multimeter’s do , Now whether it’s an Auto ranging Meter or Manual Setting, Get it to the right setting, Establish what the capacitor reading is expected to be, Establish which Terminals are negative and positive on the capacitor, Hook it up and take the reading. or perhaps google “How to test capacitors”

      Reply
  3. Adebowale Emmanuel

    i really love working with electronics component, and i really want know the symptoms of defect capacitor or faulty ones

    Reply
  4. Brian Phan

    Hi, I need help reading polyester capacitor codes I am really dumb when it comes to this, could you help me?

    1. q1J63 1B1
    2. 0.01 k100
    3. .0033k400
    4. KT1805 6800 100-±10% S2
    5. 15nk100

    Help would be really apreciated

    Reply
    • Wayne Storr

      Its difficult to know without looking at the type of capacitor but best guess is:

      1. q1J63 1B1 ( 630pF +/-5% )
      2. 0.01 k100 ( 0.01uF +/-10% 100VDC )
      3. .0033k400 ( 0.0033uF +/-10% 400VDC )
      4. KT1805 6800 100-±10% S2 ( 6800pF +/-10% 100VDC )
      5. 15nk100 ( 15nF +/-10% 100VDC )

      Note Brian that these values and tolerances are only guesstimates and should not be taken as exact.

      Reply
      • Brian Phan

        Thanks wayne for the information, I figured it out somehow and it works.

        Reply
      • Walter Hunter

        Hi Wayne, you’r quite an expert.
        Please help me with another type of coding:
        (micro sign as prefix) “u”22 J – should this mean 0.22 micro F; 5%
        because from the same supplier other caps. are coded like
        47nM = 47 nano F ; 20% as far as I understand?
        Thanks.

        Reply
        • Wayne Storr

          Hello Walter, without seeing the capacitor its difficult to be sure, but definitely the uppercase or capital “J” relates to a 5% tolerance. As a J is used that would suggest a ceramic or polyester film type in which case the 22 relates to 22pF. However the “u”, which for capacitance signifies microfarads, is being used as a decimal point marker so I would assume u22 means 0.22uF as opposed to 2u2 = 2.2uF or 22u = 22uF. Then the markings possibly mean 0.22uF, 5% tolerance.

          Reply
          • Walter Hunter

            Hi Wayne,
            Thanks for your promt reply,
            Sorry, I neither couldn’t figure out the brand name, but their brand lable looks like a sliced capital “A” or delta wing.
            These retangular shaped polyester caps are well done in a shiny clear blue dip-painting and fitting very well into the PCB grid.
            But anyhow, your answer is quite satisfactory.
            Just for curiosity, is this type of coding common known or is it the habit of some suppliers or countries.
            Sounds silly, but sometimes I have to put unknown caps in a 555 timer circuit to establish their values by the frequency reading.
            Regards WH

          • bruce

            I have a power board from a infrared heater that had a power surge and blew the small ceramic disc capacitor so I cant tell what size it was. the color on the bottom appears to be blue. how do I tell what size to put back in? There is a vr1 printed on the board next to it.

          • Wayne Storr

            Hello Bruce, If the component was damaged due to a power surge, then I would suspect that its not a capacitor but a Varistor. The two clues are: what remains is blue and the lettering on the pcb is vr1, or varistor 1. Replace with a suitable varistor for you supply.

  5. Bill Paul

    Wayne,
    I appreciate all the good info on this page.
    I am trying to build a 30 meter QRP (low power) CW transceiver kit.
    In the VFO ckt the instructions call for the location and installation of:
    two “N80″ 150pf capacitors. The instructions say they are clearly marked “N80 151″

    Two steps later I am instructed to install a 150pf NPO marked “151J”

    I notified the manufacturer that the kit contained two caps marked
    “151J”
    1 K V
    KCK
    (There is no “N80 151″)
    and one marked “151” 100v

    I was told to “use my common sense” and not be picky.
    In the test phase there is no output from the VFO. Are the caps interchangeable?
    My “common sense” suggests there would be three identical caps if that was the case.

    I appreciate you time and interest.
    Bill Paul
    WW1WDP

    Reply
    • Wayne Storr

      Hello Bill, I can not comment on other peoples circuits or designs, or indeed their lack of customer support. But commenting generally on capacitor markings, as they are 150pF capacitors I would assume they are ceramic disc types suitable for resonant and filter applications.

      The 151 relates to the capacitance value, so its 15pf plus one additional zero, 15+0 = 150pF, If for example it was marked 152, then it would be 15pF plus two zero’s or 15+0+0 = 1500pF, etc. The “J” relates to the tolerance band with “J” being +/-5pF. Then the value of the capacitor could be anywhere between 145pF to 155pF.

      All capacitors will change in capacitance value if their ambient temperature changes, which will occur through heating or cooling within an electronic circuit. The N80 value relates to the temperature characteristics of the capacitor which may or may not have a coloured dot or band to identify this. NPO (Negative Positive Zero) is one type of temperature characteristic and N80 is another, but at room temperature or slightly above, there will be very little difference. If you are operating the transciever at -50deg or +200degs then yes there will be a difference.

      Reply
      • Bill Paul

        Your reply greatly appreciated. You confirmed my gut feeling (aided by your web page info) that I should be looking for a sloppy solder bridge rather than a faulty or incorrect component.
        Thanks again.

        Reply
  6. paul griffiths

    Hi – I`m hoping you can give me some advice.I have a pro PA system which I use for a band I manage.The speakers are passive DAS Audio RF215`s.They have a built in circuitry board with the frequency crossover etc on.On this board is a yellow oblong shaped capacitor with the markings Faco K250 v 4,7uF These capacitors control the high frequency drivers

    On both speaker cabs this capacitors `legs` (the bits that solder to the board) have come away from the capacitor.I am quite handy with DIY and have managed to solder a wire from each capacitor to the board to enable them to work but I need to replace them.

    I have tried sourcing theses on the net and despite being `assurred` i was getting the right parts,have twice bought them only to find upon delivery they are wrong.

    Could you please tell me if there is an alternative capacitor or indeed where i could get the correct one.I have photos if this helps.
    Many thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • Wayne Storr

      If the capacitor is marked as K250V 4,7uF then its a 4.7uF, 250VDC, +/- 10% tolerance capacitor. Faco is a Spanish manufacturer (http://www.faco.es) so the comma (,) represents a decimal point (.) to the rest of the world. If its rectangular then probably a radial Polypropylene Film type. There are many online suppliers of this type of capacitor.

      Reply
  7. Cecil Mangrum

    My capacitor in my tv blew out and it was just a solid green disc capicitor with no markings. The sum is not correct, I just filled that in to get the comment posted. This page was very helpful.

    Reply

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