Difference between Capacitor and Inductor | Inductor vs Capacitor

A capacitor and an inductor are distinct passive components in electronics, which have opposite effects on voltage and current changes. A capacitor stores energy in an electric field and opposes any voltage changes, while an inductor stores energy in a magnetic field and opposes any current changes.

There are many differences between Capacitor and Inductor but the main difference between Capacitor and an inductor is that a Capacitor doesn’t allow sudden variation of voltage across its terminals whereas an Inductor doesn’t allow a sudden change in current through it. Capacitor stores energy in an electric field whereas the inductor stores energy in a magnetic field. In this article, we will learn more about the differences between capacitors and inductors.

Capacitor vs Inductor

FeatureInductorCapacitor
DefinitionA passive component that stores energy in a magnetic field when current flows through itA passive component that stores energy in an electric field when voltage is applied across it
Basic formulaL = N^2 * (μ * A)/l, where N is the number of turns, μ is the permeability of the core material, A is the cross-sectional area of the core, and l is the length of the coreC = ε * A/d, where C is the capacitance in farads, ε is the permittivity of the dielectric material, A is the surface area of the plates, and d is the distance between the plates
Unit of measurementHenry (H)Farad (F)
Core materialCan be made of air, iron, ferrite, or other materials with high magnetic permeabilityCan be made of metal, paper, ceramic, plastic, or other materials with high dielectric strength
Winding materialWireNone
Form and sizeCan be cylindrical, rectangular, or other shapes, and can be made in different sizesCan be cylindrical, rectangular, or other shapes, and can be made in different sizes
ReactanceThe reactance of an inductor is the opposition it offers to alternating current (AC). It is given by the formula: X_L = 2πfL, where X_L is the reactance in ohms, f is the frequency of the AC signal in Hz, and L is the inductance in henrys. The reactance of an inductor increases with the frequency of the AC signal and the inductance value.The reactance of a capacitor is the opposition it offers to alternating current (AC). It is given by the formula: X_C = 1/(2πfC), where X_C is the reactance in ohms, f is the frequency of the AC signal in Hz, and C is the capacitance in farads. The reactance of a capacitor decreases with the frequency of the AC signal and the capacitance value.
ImpedanceThe impedance of an inductor is the total opposition it offers to the flow of current in an AC circuit. It is given by the formula: Z = √(R^2 + X_L^2), where Z is the impedance in ohms, R is the resistance of the inductor in ohms, and X_L is the reactance in ohms. The impedance of an inductor increases with the frequency of the AC signal and the inductance value.The impedance of a capacitor is the total opposition it offers to the flow of current in an AC circuit. It is given by the formula: Z = √(R^2 + X_C^2), where Z is the impedance in ohms, R is the resistance of the capacitor in ohms, and X_C is the reactance in ohms. The impedance of a capacitor decreases with the frequency of the AC signal and the capacitance value.
Q factorThe Q factor of an inductor is a measure of the quality of the inductor, which is a measure of how well the inductor stores energy in its magnetic field. It is defined as the ratio of the inductive reactance to the resistance of the inductor. A high Q factor indicates a high quality inductor with low losses.The Q factor of a capacitor is a measure of the quality of the capacitor, which is a measure of how well the capacitor stores energy in its electric field. It is defined as the ratio of the capacitive reactance to the resistance of the capacitor. A high Q factor indicates a high quality capacitor with low losses.
AdvantagesHigh impedance at high frequencies, ability to store energy in a magnetic fieldSmall size, low cost, widely available, ability to store and release energy rapidly
DisadvantagesLarge size, high cost for high inductance valuesFixed value, can cause instability in some circuits
ApplicationsFiltering, coupling, choking, transformer actionFiltering, coupling, oscillation, energy storage

In summary, inductors and capacitors are two important passive components that have unique characteristics and are used in a variety of applications in electrical and electronic circuits. Inductors have a high impedance at high frequencies and are used for filtering and coupling applications, while capacitors have a low impedance at high frequencies and are used for filtering and oscillation applications. Inductors store energy in a magnetic field, while capacitors store energy in an electric field. Both components have advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of which component to use depends on the requirements of the user.

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