How to discharge a capacitor?
Capacitors are found in a number of electrical appliances and pieces of electronic equipment. They store excess electrical energy during power surges and discharge it during power lulls to provide the appliance with a constant, even supply of electricity. The larger the capacitor, the more charge it can store per unit voltage, even after the appliance is turned off. This is not to say however that smaller capacitors cannot be dangerous. Before working on an appliance or electronic device, you must first discharge its capacitor; here are instructions to discharge a capacitor safely.
How to discharge a capacitor
1.Learn and use proper techniques and equipment for working on live electrical equipment. Don't let your unprotected hands near anything involved.
2.Disconnect the device with the capacitor from electric current. Alternating current will flow through a capacitor until the source of the current is removed. That current can add to the shock you'll get if you mishandle the capacitor, and may keep recharging it.
3.Look for the capacitor. Most capacitors are constructed of 2 conductive plates separated by an insulating plate; more complex capacitors feature multiple layers of metalized plastic. Big capacitors, the kind most likely to be dangerous, are usually cylindrical and look roughly like battery cells.
4. Disconnect the capacitor from the system, if it is not permanently installed. This may prevent damage to the circuitry the capacitor was connected to when you discharge it.
- If it is removable, it is probably very large and potentially very dangerous.
5.Touch a device to the capacitor leads for several seconds. Doing this will provide a path for the electricity to go and discharge the capacitor. You can use a 5- to 10-watt resistor, voltmeter, test light or ordinary light bulb.
- Using a meter or light will show the progress of the discharging, either with a digital display or a progressively dimming bulb.
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