Building a Capacitor Kit

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Many game consoles and related electronics are failing due to capacitors going bad either from age or from being part of the capacitor plague. This guide walks you through how to create a capacitor kit.

Taking Inventory

  1. Download this Excel spreadsheet template.
  2. Desolder a single electrolytic capacitor. In the spreadsheet, note:
    • The part identifier written on the board (i.e. C13).
    • The voltage rating written on the capacitor (i.e. 16V).
    • The capacitance value written on the capacitor (i.e. 47uF or 0.5uF.
  3. Repeat these steps for every electrolytic capacitor on the board.
    • Also mention if you find any extra capacitors on the board such as one in place of a resistor and do your best to describe the position (i.e. 100uF capacitor from R13 south pad to D4 north pad).
  4. If you can find a service manual for your exact model, find the capacitor list in it and write down the values listed in the service manual in the spreadsheet. This will allow you to compare the values side-by-side and see if there are any differences.
    • Differences can indicate that a service bulletin may have been published after the service manual that makes corrections or improvements. The different capacitors may have been put in at the factory or by a repair technician servicing the unit.
  5. If you want to be complete and extra helpful to others, mark down all other capacitors and their types that you can find on the board such as film and ceramic capacitors. You may not be able to see values on them, but just the capacitor type is useful to know as there may be differences from what is mentioned in the service manual.

Picking Capacitors

Choose your favorite part supplier website. Recommended ones are Digikey or Mouser as they have an extensive filtering system and you can share capacitor kits as a project and share the link.

  1. Use your chosen site's search feature to search for "electrolytic capacitor" and narrow down searches for each capacitor as follows:
    • Check the box for "In Stock".
    • Capacitance value MUST EQUAL the capacitance value of original capacitor.
    • Voltage rating must be GREATER THAN OR EQUAL TO the voltage rating of the original capacitor.
    • Choose a trusted brand. Some highly recommended brands are Nichicon, Rubicon, Panasonic, United Chemi-Con, or Würth Elektronik.
    • Choose 105°C and greater maximum operating temperature. This option alone extends the life of the capacitor by magnitudes more than the the "Life" hour count.
    • If you still have options, you can weigh your options of price versus life hours. See the "Temperature Rating vs Rated Life Hours" section below for more information.
  2. Other factors you may want to take into consideration:
    • Physical size and lead pitch. Generally, you can bend the leads of a capacitor to fit your needs, but if it's a cramped device you may not have the physical space to fit a tall capacitor with bent leads.
    • ESR. If you are replacing capacitors on a switching power supply, you may want to get low ESR capacitors. If replacing capacitors on a linear power supply, you may want to avoid low ESR capacitors.
  3. When you've chosen all of your capacitors, save the cart as a project and share it here!

Temperature Rating vs Rated Life Hours

Often times, people make the logical mistake of thinking the most important value for the estimated lifespan of a capacitor is the rated "life hours". However, the temperature rating is a more important factor to determine lifespan as outlined in this article.

Using this calculator you can estimate the lifespan of any given capacitor and easily see how big of a difference the temperature rating makes in lifespan.

For instance, at an ambient house temperature of 23°C (73.4°F) with a 16V capacitor running at 16V:

Temperature Rating vs Rated Life Hours
Hour Rating °C Rating Expected Lifetime
1000 85°C 73k hours (~8 years)
2000 85°C 147k hours (~17 years)
5000 85°C 367k hours (~42 years)
1000 105°C 294k hours (~34 years)
2000 105°C 588k hours (~67 years)
5000 105°C 1.4 million hours (~167 years)
1000 125°C 1.1 million hours (~134 years)
2000 125°C 2.4 million hours (~269 years)
5000 125°C 5.9 million hours (~671 years)

In reality, these capacitors will vary in temperature during use and likely their lifespans will be shorter than the given ratings, but higher temperature rated capacitors will still last longer than their counterparts.


  • Always replace capacitors with the same type (electrolytic, ceramic, film) unless otherwise noted in a service bulletin or are completely aware of the ramifications of changing them.
  • If you are presented with multiple seemingly-equal options, check if the lead spacing is different on the capacitors. One may fit your capacitor footprint better — though you can bend the legs to make a capacitor fit any footprint.