How to Test & Check Capacitor Without Desoldering

It is somewhat tricky examining any part ‘in circuit’, not simply capacitors.

You have to get some notion of the surrounding circuit so that you can decide what things to anticipate when you apply your own test.

This leads into a different stage, if you are using a multimeter to probe both sides of the part you want to comprehend the way the multimeter is interacting with all the circuit.

In your circumstance I’d at the very least begin with my multimeter at VDC manner, begin in the low voltage side of this power inlet and assess correct voltages are found both when the unit is functioning properly and particularly when it’s in failure mode.

Work downstream into the computer system.

You might well require an oscilloscope in case your DVM does not disclose anything.

But don’t do any of this when there is mains voltage entering the machine and you have some uncertainty about which pieces are high voltage!!!

Electrolytic capacitors have a tradition of neglecting over time, assess for domed heads, or if they’re increased in the PCB surface take a look between their legs to determine whether the sealing cap has pushed out – a certain indication of a collapsed cap.

Cable interconnects are also a weakness, so make sure they are all pushed home completely.

When there’s a chip from the machine anywhere check to get a clock signal.

That is enough to consider today.

Evaluation a capacitor with no desoldering it

Let only face it.

You simply are not able to examine a terrible capacitor inside or out a circuit board by simply measuring its capacitance value using a capacitor meter or a multimeter.

Because in this situation mentioned apparatus lead you to false studying and also you might not have the ability to really tell whether the capacitor you analyzed was really a poor or appropriate one.


The main reason is, even when a capacitor is within the circuit board, there are a whole lot of different elements in parallel or series with it.

So you receive the equal reading, maybe not the real one.

After the capacitor is beyond the plank, sometimes a poor capacitor may provide you a suitable capacitance value on the multimeter or capacitor meter.

Without a doubt, a multimeter or capacitor meter is utilized to quantify capacitances.
They simply can’t be trusted to let you know if the capacitor is bad or great if it’s outside or within the circuit board.

So, how do I test this?

There left one option we could use to check a capacitor, and that’s by measuring its equivalent series resistance (ESR).

In conclusion, the ideal way to check a capacitor without really desoldering it’s using an ESR meter or clever tweezers.
Both work the exact same and are all fine to use.
However, the ESR meter is favored for through-hole capacitors, and the latter is favored to check SMD capacitors.

In the remaining part of the guide, I provide more information on what will be the mentioned apparatus, and the way they examine in-circuit capacitors.

The ESR meter

The expression ESR stands for equivalent series resistance, measured in Ohms, meaning ESR meter is a device used to ascertain the equivalent series resistance of a true capacitor without desoldering it by a circuit.

This device can’t measure the capacitance, and may simply be used to check a capacitor.

An great capacitor has an ESR value equals to zero, but in fact, it’s very less; near the perfect value.
A high ESR value is the initial indication of a capacitor’s collapse.

The gain in the ESR value increases both voltage drops within the capacitor and the warmth.
The heat produces from the capacitors is because of heat and this warmth causes the capacitor to escape.

If you don’t examine the electrolytic capacitor for ESR value with an ESR meter, then you might not have the ability to tell whether the capacitor is a good or bad one.

The Way to test a capacitor using ESR Meter?

Listed here are the quick actions to check any in-circuit capacitor using ESR meter.

Discharge the below examination capacitor first.

This is indeed important and essential, in the event that you inadvertently forget that step, you might wind up ruining your ESR meter.

To get additional expertise, constantly release a capacitor before measuring some parameter of it.

Discharging of a capacitor could be carried out by shorting its legs by any available means.

But do not just brief the legs with low resistance cable, a fantastic practice would be to utilize a high resistance material.

Switch on the ESR meter, also brief its prospects till you get 0 studying on its own display.

If the display is currently revealing 0 studying, then there’s not any need to brief the outcomes.

Set the red lead of ESR meter into some beneficial and black lead to the negative terminal of the capacitor under test.

Notice that the readings on ESR meter.

Evaluate the reading using the table provided on the entire body of ESR meter.

If the ESR value is at the specified range the capacitor is great and requires no changes, or even then it’s a poor one and requires replacement.

If the entire body of ESR isn’t giving any dining table, use the datasheet of this capacitor to see its ESR value.

The datasheet of each capacitor has recorded its ESR value in the frequency of 100kHz and voltage rating.

Deviation from this respect helps us to determine either the capacitor has to be altered or not.

Normally, the ESR of a poor capacitor increases.

What’s more, a fantastic capacitor would quantify almost like a brief circuit, and the rest of the parts attached in parallel using it will have minimum impact on the end dimension.

This is the quality that makes an ESR meter an irreplaceable instrument for troubleshooting electronics.

Consequently, in the event that you truly would like to learn and fix your bad capacitors on your devices you will need an adequate ESR meter.

You are able to discover decent ESR anywhere.

Smart Tweezers

Normally, an ESR meter may perform all of the job for you but in regards to SMD parts it does not arrive as easy as a wise tweezer.

In case you choose to choose ESR, you’ll be fine but intelligent tweezer (Amazon link) is enjoyable and a superb tool to have on your laboratory, in my estimation.

The actual issue with smart tweezers is they are costly.

The last time I checked its own cost was about $300.

But apart from using it merely to check capacitors, it may function as amazing portable LCR meter also.

All of the measuring measures are exactly the same as I talked previously for ESR meter.

Visually seeing a poor capacitor

Rather than using ESR meter or tweezers, we could even test a capacitor with no desoldering it by overall review.

A poor electrolytic capacitor gets consumed in the other hand, you see these one from the circuit: simply replace it without wasting your time analyzing it.

The capacitance value could be in great value range when you examine it off the circuit using a multimeter or capacitor meter, but nonetheless, it’s a lousy one.


You simply are not able to examine a terrible capacitor either indoors or out a circuit board by capacitance meter or multimeter.

The main reason is.

They can lead you to false outcomes.

The only remedy to check capacitor with no desoldering is by measuring its equivalent series resistance (ESR).

This worth is measured by ESR meter.

An ESR meter transmits a 100kHz frequency alternating current to the capacitor under test.

The current generates a voltage throughout the capacitor and then using a math the ESR is calculated and displayed on the monitor.

You obtain a drifted ESR value after comparing it with an ESR graph, you get a bad capacitor.

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