**Limiting Current Loads**

A capacitor can act as an AC resistor, coupling AC voltage and AC current between two points. Every AC current flow through a capacitor generates heat inside the capacitor body. These dissipation power loss is caused by and is the squared value of the effective (RMS) current

The same power loss can be written with the dissipation factor as

The internal generated heat has to be distributed to the ambient. The temperature of the capacitor, which is established on the balance between heat produced and distributed, shall not exceed the capacitors maximum specified temperature. Hence, the ESR or dissipation factor is a mark for the maximum power (AC load, ripple current, pulse load, etc.) a capacitor is specified for.

AC currents may be a:

- ripple current—an effective (RMS) AC current, coming from an AC voltage superimposed of an DC bias, a
- pulse current—an AC peak current, coming from an voltage peak, or an
- AC current—an effective (RMS) sinusoidal current

Ripple and AC currents mainly warms the capacitor body. By this currents internal generated temperature influences the breakdown voltage of the dielectric. Higher temperature lower the voltage proof of all capacitors. In wet electrolytic capacitors higher temperatures force the evaporation of electrolytes, shortening the life time of the capacitors. In film capacitors higher temperatures may shrink the plastic film changing the capacitor's properties.

Pulse currents, especially in metallized film capacitors, heat the contact areas between end spray (schoopage) and metallized electrodes. This may reduce the contact to the electrodes, heightening the dissipation factor.

For safe operation, the maximal temperature generated by any AC current flow through the capacitor is a limiting factor, which in turn limits AC load, ripple current, pulse load, etc.

Read more about this topic: Types Of Capacitor, Electrical Characteristics

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