How To Test Capacitor Using Analog Multimeter

Are you having trouble determining how to test a capacitor with an analog multimeter? Testing capacitors is critical for any electronic enthusiast or professional, and it can be challenging when using an analog multimeter. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to use analog meter properly for this purpose, don’t worry; this guide will provide you with essential information on the tools, resources, and steps required to test a capacitor accurately. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know to determine if your capacitor is working correctly and confidently!

How To Test Capacitor Using Analog Multimeter

Common problems testing capacitors

Low C-V Test Voltage:

If the voltage applied during Capacitance and loss factor testing is too low, accurate results may not be obtained.

High Charge Error:

Charge errors can occur when a capacitor has been overcharged with current due to higher test voltages or a long duration of testing.

High Loss Factor:

Loss factors can increase if a capacitor’s internal insulation resistance (IR) is degraded or charged enough before measuring its capacitance value.

Internal Shorting:

If the dielectric material inside a capacitor has eroded and caused an internal short circuit, this will lead to inaccurate readings in both capacitance and loss factor tests.

Inductance Measurement Error:

Some multimeters use to charge and discharge measurements to calculate Capacitance, adding inductance into the equation and producing inaccurate results.

Intermittent Contact:

If a capacitor’s contact points are intermittently connected or disconnected during testing, this may result in incorrect readings.

Reverse Polarity:

Reversing the polarity of a capacitor when testing it can cause damage and inaccurate readings in both capacitance and loss factor tests.

Low Test Voltage Stability:

If a multimeter’s test voltage fluctuates during testing, this will affect the accuracy of the results.

Lead Length Changes:

Longer leads can cause capacitance and loss factor readings to be affected as the charges pick up stray Capacitance.

Inadequate Power Supply Regulation:

A multimeter’s power supply regulation can also affect accuracy, as it needs to provide a steady voltage for testing to ensure accurate results.

For these reasons, you must choose a quality Analog Multimeter with good power supply regulation when testing capacitors. Doing so will help ensure that your test results are precise and reliable.

How to safely discharge a capacitor

Discharging a capacitor properly ensures safety when working with electrical equipment. There are two main ways of discharging a capacitor – thermal and mechanical.

Thermal Method:

Unplug the capacitor from its power source and touch a metal object – such as a screwdriver or alligator clip – to each of the capacitor’s two leads. This will create an electrical arc that rapidly discharges the energy stored in the capacitor.

Mechanical Method:

Use a resistor across both terminals of the capacitor with a resistance equal to 10 times its capacitance value, measured in Farads (F). Allow the resistor to discharge any current stored by the capacitor before handling it. It’s important to remember that when using either method, you must be cautious and never touch any exposed wires or terminals while performing this procedure. Additionally, always wear safety equipment such as rubber gloves and protective eyewear.

How To Test A Capacitor Using An Analog Multimeter

When testing a capacitor, the measurement range on an analog multimeter must be set. Select the capacitance range that is appropriate for the capacitor being tested. Typically, this is done by turning a dial or selecting a setting from the multimeter’s display.

  • Discharge the capacitor by connecting a resistor across the terminals of the capacitor for a few seconds before beginning your test.
  • Connect the black lead of your multimeter to one end of the capacitor and the red lead to the other.
  • If applicable, turn on the power switch or set the range selection knob on your multimeter.
  • Read off the capacitance value from your multimeter display; this is usually given in microfarads (uF).
  • Compare this reading with that specified by the manufacturer or printed on its body if available and ensure it matches within an acceptable tolerance level as mentioned in the datasheet/specification sheet/manufacturer website etc., depending upon application requirement and user discretion.
  • Disconnect the multimeter’s leads and remove the resistor to discharge the capacitor before proceeding with other tests or tasks.

Testing a capacitor with an analog multimeter is quick and easy, allowing you to determine whether your capacitor has retained its charge quickly. The process described above should be followed when testing all types of capacitors, regardless of size or material composition. With careful attention to safety precautions, you can test any capacitor using an analog multimeter to ensure it is in good working order. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for correct usage and operation details.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the three most common capacitor faults?

The three most common capacitor faults are open circuit/short circuit, decreased capacitance value, and failure to hold a charge. An open circuit/short circuit fault occurs when the capacitor has a broken connection or is not connected correctly. A decreased capacitance value indicates that the capacitor’s ability to store electricity has been compromised. Lastly, a capacitor may fail to hold its charge if it is subjected to a high-voltage surge or overcharged.

How can you tell if the capacitor is working?

You can tell if a capacitor is working by testing its Capacitance using an analog multimeter and measuring the resistance between two points on the device. If you measure no resistance, then the capacitor is functioning correctly. If there is resistance, the capacitor may be faulty.

What should you do if the capacitor fails to test?

If your capacitor fails to test, it is likely to become damaged or compromised in some way and needs to be replaced. It would help if you replaced any capacitors that fail a test as soon as possible to prevent further damage or inconvenience. Additionally, if you are unsure how to test the capacitors properly, seek professional help from an electronics engineer who can advise on best practices for testing and maintenance.


Finally, testing capacitors with an analog multimeter is a reasonably simple procedure. The most important parts of the process are correctly setting the multimeter, connecting it, and correctly interpreting the readings. If you follow these steps, you should have no trouble testing and determining the condition of your capacitor. Before attempting any repair or diagnosis on electrical components, always take safety precautions and ensure that you are experienced in working with electronics. With this knowledge, you can confidently test capacitors using an analog multimeter.

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