Shelf Life Of Aluminium Electrolytic Capacitors

6 min read Jun 26, 2024
Shelf Life Of Aluminium Electrolytic Capacitors

Shelf Life of Aluminium Electrolytic Capacitors


Aluminium electrolytic capacitors are widely used in electronic circuits due to their high capacitance, low cost, and compact size. However, like all electrochemical components, they have a limited shelf life, which can affect their performance and reliability over time. In this article, we will discuss the shelf life of aluminium electrolytic capacitors, the factors that affect it, and the methods to extend their shelf life.

What is Shelf Life?

Shelf life refers to the period during which a component remains usable and meets its specified performance requirements when stored under recommended conditions. Aluminium electrolytic capacitors are sensitive to environmental factors, and their shelf life is influenced by various parameters, including temperature, humidity, and storage conditions.

Factors Affecting Shelf Life

Several factors can affect the shelf life of aluminium electrolytic capacitors:


High temperatures can accelerate chemical reactions within the capacitor, leading to a reduction in its capacitance and increasing its equivalent series resistance (ESR). Prolonged exposure to temperatures above 40°C (104°F) can significantly reduce the shelf life of aluminium electrolytic capacitors.


High humidity can cause moisture to penetrate the capacitor, leading to corrosion and oxidation of the electrode and electrolyte. This can result in a significant reduction in the capacitor's capacitance and an increase in its ESR.

Storage Conditions

Improper storage conditions, such as stacking or compressing the capacitors, can cause physical damage and lead to a reduction in their shelf life.


Aluminium electrolytic capacitors, like all electrochemical components, have a natural aging process. Over time, the electrolyte can evaporate, and the capacitor's performance can degrade.

Typical Shelf Life

The typical shelf life of aluminium electrolytic capacitors varies depending on the manufacturer and storage conditions. However, as a general guideline, it is recommended to follow these storage periods:

  • 6 months to 1 year: Ideally, aluminium electrolytic capacitors should be used within 6 months to 1 year of receipt. During this period, the capacitors will retain their specified performance characteristics.
  • 1 year to 2 years: If stored properly, aluminium electrolytic capacitors can maintain their performance for up to 2 years. However, their capacitance and ESR may start to degrade slightly.
  • Beyond 2 years: After 2 years, the capacitors' performance may degrade significantly, and their use is not recommended.

Methods to Extend Shelf Life

To extend the shelf life of aluminium electrolytic capacitors, follow these guidelines:

Store in a Cool, Dry Place

Keep the capacitors in a cool, dry place with a temperature range of 15°C to 30°C (59°F to 86°F) and relative humidity below 60%.

Avoid Physical Damage

Handle the capacitors carefully to prevent physical damage, such as bending, compressing, or stacking.

Use Desiccant Packaging

Store the capacitors in desiccant packaging or use silica gel to absorb moisture and maintain a dry environment.

Monitor Storage Conditions

Regularly check the storage conditions and ensure that the capacitors are not exposed to excessive temperatures, humidity, or physical stress.


The shelf life of aluminium electrolytic capacitors is critical in ensuring the reliability and performance of electronic circuits. By understanding the factors that affect shelf life and following proper storage and handling guidelines, you can extend the shelf life of these critical components and maintain the integrity of your electronic designs. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations and guidelines for storing and handling aluminium electrolytic capacitors.