How to Read and Understand SMD Capacitor Codes

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What are SMD Capacitor Codes?

SMD (Surface Mount Device) capacitor codes are a standardized system for identifying the characteristics of surface-mount capacitors. These codes provide essential information about the capacitor’s capacitance value, tolerance, voltage rating, and other properties. Understanding these codes is crucial for anyone working with electronic circuits, as it allows for proper component selection and ensures compatibility within the design.

Why is it Important to Understand SMD Capacitor Codes?

Reading and understanding SMD capacitor codes is important for several reasons:

  1. Correct component selection: By deciphering the codes, you can ensure that you choose the right capacitor for your specific application, considering factors such as capacitance value, voltage rating, and tolerance.

  2. Avoiding circuit failures: Using the wrong capacitor can lead to circuit malfunction, reduced performance, or even complete failure. Understanding the codes helps prevent such issues.

  3. Efficient inventory management: When you know how to read the codes, you can easily identify and organize your capacitor inventory, saving time and reducing the risk of using the wrong component.

  4. Facilitating communication: Being able to interpret SMD capacitor codes allows for clear communication among engineers, technicians, and suppliers, reducing the chances of misunderstandings or errors.

Types of SMD Capacitor Codes

There are several standard coding systems used for SMD capacitors, each with its own format and information. The most common types include:

EIA-96 Standard Code

The EIA-96 standard code is a two-character alphanumeric code that represents the capacitance value and tolerance of the capacitor. The first character is a letter indicating the significant figures of the capacitance value, while the second character is a number representing the multiplier.

Letter Significant Figures
A 1.0
B 1.1
C 1.2
D 1.3
Y 3.5
Z 3.6
Number Multiplier
0 ×1
1 ×10
2 ×100
3 ×1,000
8 ×0.01
9 ×0.1

For example, a capacitor with the code “C5” would have a capacitance value of 1.2 × 100,000 pF = 120 nF.

Metric Coding

Metric coding is a three-digit numerical code that directly represents the capacitance value in picofarads (pF). The first two digits are the significant figures, and the third digit is the multiplier (number of zeros).

For example, a capacitor with the code “104” would have a capacitance value of 10 × 10^4 pF = 100,000 pF = 100 nF.

Voltage Rating

In addition to the capacitance value and tolerance, SMD capacitors also have a voltage rating that indicates the maximum voltage the capacitor can withstand without damage. This rating is often printed on the capacitor using a separate code or as part of the main code.

Common voltage ratings and their corresponding codes include:

Code Voltage Rating
2R5 2.5V
4 4V
6R3 6.3V
10 10V
16 16V
25 25V
35 35V
50 50V

How to Read SMD Capacitor Codes

Now that we’ve covered the basics of SMD capacitor codes let’s go through a step-by-step process for reading and interpreting them.

Step 1: Identify the Coding System

First, determine which coding system is being used on the capacitor. This can usually be inferred from the format of the code (e.g., two characters for EIA-96, three digits for metric coding).

Step 2: Determine the Capacitance Value

Using the appropriate coding system, decode the capacitance value of the capacitor. For EIA-96, use the first character to find the significant figures and the second character for the multiplier. For metric coding, use the first two digits as significant figures and the third digit as the multiplier.

Step 3: Identify the Tolerance

The tolerance of the capacitor, which represents the allowable deviation from the nominal capacitance value, is often indicated by a separate code or as part of the main code. Common tolerance codes include:

Code Tolerance
B ±0.1%
C ±0.25%
D ±0.5%
F ±1%
G ±2%
J ±5%
K ±10%
M ±20%

Step 4: Determine the Voltage Rating

Identify the voltage rating of the capacitor using the separate voltage code or the integrated code, as described in the “Voltage Rating” section above.

Step 5: Consider Additional Information

Some SMD capacitors may include additional information in their code, such as the temperature coefficient, dielectric material, or package size. Consult the manufacturer’s datasheet or specific coding guidelines for more details.

Example: Decoding an SMD Capacitor Code

Let’s practice reading an SMD capacitor code with an example. Consider a capacitor with the following code: “105K 50V”

  1. The coding system appears to be metric, based on the three-digit format.
  2. The capacitance value is represented by “105”. The first two digits (10) are the significant figures, and the third digit (5) is the multiplier. So, the capacitance value is 10 × 10^5 pF = 1,000,000 pF = 1 μF.
  3. The tolerance is indicated by the letter “K”, which corresponds to a tolerance of ±10% according to the table in the “How to Read SMD Capacitor Codes” section.
  4. The voltage rating is explicitly stated as “50V”.

Thus, this SMD capacitor has a capacitance value of 1 μF with a tolerance of ±10% and a voltage rating of 50V.


1. What is the difference between EIA-96 and metric coding for SMD capacitors?

EIA-96 coding uses a two-character alphanumeric code to represent the capacitance value and tolerance, while metric coding uses a three-digit numerical code to directly represent the capacitance value in picofarads.

2. How do I determine the voltage rating of an SMD capacitor?

The voltage rating is often printed on the capacitor using a separate code or as part of the main code. Common voltage rating codes include “2R5” for 2.5V, “6R3” for 6.3V, “10” for 10V, and so on.

3. What is the purpose of the tolerance in SMD capacitor codes?

The tolerance represents the allowable deviation from the nominal capacitance value. It is important to consider the tolerance when selecting capacitors for a circuit to ensure proper performance and compatibility.

4. Can I use an SMD capacitor with a higher voltage rating than required in my circuit?

Yes, you can use an SMD capacitor with a higher voltage rating than required, as long as it meets the other specifications (capacitance value, tolerance, etc.) of your circuit. However, using a capacitor with a significantly higher voltage rating than needed may result in a larger physical size and higher cost.

5. What should I do if I encounter an SMD capacitor code that I cannot decipher?

If you come across an SMD capacitor code that you cannot interpret, consult the manufacturer’s datasheet or contact their technical support for assistance. Some manufacturers may use proprietary coding systems that deviate from the standard formats discussed in this article.


Understanding SMD capacitor codes is essential for anyone working with surface-mount components in electronic circuits. By learning to read and interpret these codes, you can ensure proper component selection, avoid circuit failures, and streamline your workflow. This article has provided a comprehensive guide to the most common SMD capacitor coding systems, including EIA-96 and metric coding, as well as information on voltage ratings and tolerances.

By following the step-by-step process outlined in this article, you should now be able to confidently decode SMD capacitor codes and make informed decisions when selecting components for your projects. Remember to always refer to manufacturer datasheets for specific details and additional information, and don’t hesitate to seek assistance if you encounter any challenges along the way.

With a solid understanding of SMD capacitor codes, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle a wide range of electronic projects and contribute to the ever-evolving world of electronics engineering.