High Voltage Capacitors: Markets and Technologies: 2012

08.08.2012 // Dennis M. Zogbi // Passives

Introduction - to High Voltage Capacitors

This MarketEye article discusses the global market for high voltage capacitors. The reader should understand that within each major capacitor dielectric, high voltage has a different definition. To summarize, the overwhelming majority of capacitors consumed for high voltage applications are electrostatic plastic film capacitors, and even then there is a focus on the polypropylene type film capacitor dielectrics only. Polypropylene capacitors are applicable to the hundreds of thousands of and are truly separate from other dielectrics in that respect. Ceramic capacitors - also electrostatic, can be manufactured to withstand up to 100,000 volts. Aluminum electrolytic capacitors are also included in this discussion, especially the screw terminal and snap in types that are manufactured to operate up to 500 volts per cell. Other capacitors consumed in high voltage circuits include tantalum wet capacitors, reconstituted mica capacitors, glass dielectric capacitors and diamond-like carbon capacitors, however, these dielectrics are considered small with respect to overall global dollar sales when viewed in comparison to the much larger dollar markets for high voltage plastic film, high voltage ceramic capacitor and high voltage aluminum electrolytic capacitors in 2012.

High Voltage Capacitor

Figure 1: High Voltage Capacitor by Dielectric and Applicable Voltage Range: 2012.
Source: Paumanok Publications, Inc. Compiled From Company Literature

High Voltage Plastic Film Capacitors

High voltage plastic film capacitors include a variety of sub-categories that are largely defined by application and include high voltage power transmission and distribution capacitors; high voltage motor run capacitors; high voltage industrial power factor correction capacitors; high voltage microwave oven capacitors; high voltage magnetic ballast capacitors and high voltage specialty power film capacitors for commutation, filtering, snubbering and burst power. These capacitors are available from 300 VAC to 1,000,000 VAC (1,000 kV) and represent the broadest product offering for line voltage equipment in the world. The primary dielectric material consumed in the construction of high voltage film capacitors is polypropylene, which may be rolled by itself, or with Kraft paper or with aluminum or tin foil to create the finished high voltage capacitor. In addition to the standard large and small can capacitors previously mentioned, there are also radial leaded, board level components manufactured from polypropylene that are considered offshoots of the power film capacitor market and include the AC and Pulse Radial Leaded Capacitor markets for circuit applications in CRT TV set degaussing circuits and in some specialty power supplies. Another product of note is the PTFE plastic film capacitor which is consumed in 200 degree C applications and also at high voltage - from 300 volts to 1 kV, as well as the traditional metallized PET film capacitors, some of which are also consumed at high voltages. In addition to covering the majority of capacitor applications for power factor correction, snubbing, filtering and burst power in line voltage equipment, we also see unique uses of plastic film capacitors in mission critical environments such as defense, medical and oil and gas services industries because of the self-healing aspect of plastic film capacitors (whereby should a microscopic hole or tear form in the plastic film dielectric, it can “self-heal” and minimize the opportunity for the capacitor to short out or fail catastrophically). Plastic film capacitors represent the largest market by dielectric for high voltage capacitor applications in 2012.

High Voltage Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors

A portion of the global aluminum electrolytic capacitor market can be considered high voltage. This includes the snap-mount and screw terminal aluminum electrolytic capacitors which are applicable in circuits from about 100 to 500 volts. These electrolytic type capacitors are consumed primarily in inverters and drives for filtering applications. The aluminum capacitor cannot handle the same type of high voltages as their electrostatic capacitor counterparts; however they offer a significant amount of capacitance compared to both plastic film and ceramic type electrostatic capacitors, which makes them unique for power electronics applications. In fact, many screw terminal aluminum capacitors for inverter applications can have capacitance values from 380 to 25,000 microfarad. They can also be mounted in parallel or in series to increase the overall voltage and capacitance required to operate an inverter, drive or power supply.

High Voltage Ceramic Capacitors

In the area of high voltage ceramic capacitors, we generally include only those capacitors 500 volts and above that can be considered truly high voltage in nature. This is a true representation of the high voltage ceramic capacitor market and includes the high voltage multilayered ceramic capacitors, the high voltage single layer ceramic capacitors and the high voltage ceramic “doorknob” capacitors. High voltage ceramic capacitors are generally applicable from 500 volts to 100,000 volts and can be found primarily in specialty power supplies and related power electronics; as well as in defense, medical and downhole pump applications worldwide.

Other High Voltage Capacitors

To be fair to other dielectrics, we note that some products can also be considered high voltage and should not be entirely excluded and are mentioned here.

  • Tantalum Wet Slug Capacitors

    Tantalum wet slug capacitors consumed in medical implants are applicable rom 600 to 1 kV. Tantalum wet slug capacitors are also electrolytic in nature; and the unique construction offers high capacitance at high voltage, similar to aluminum electrolytic designs, but the tantalum has a longer shelf life.

  • Mica Paper Capacitors

    Reconstituted mica paper capacitors are also a small market; but their unique construction offers the consumer two specific attributes, high temperature operation to 200 degrees C and high voltage operation from 1 kV to 30 kV. Mica capacitors are consumed almost exclusively in defense electronic applications for detonation circuits and in jet engine ignition circuits.

  • Glass Capacitors

    Specialty glass capacitors are manufactured exclusively to military specifications- qualified to MIL-C-11272. These glass capacitors are rated at 500 volts and are used in both defense applications and for downhole pump applications.

  • Diamond Like Capacitors

    Diamond Like Capacitors are unique in their design and construction and offer the end-user a high energy density at high voltages (to 1.2 kV). Applications are almost exclusively defense related.

High Voltage Capacitors as a Sub-Set to the Total Capacitor Market: 2012

One primary finding of this report is that the 2012 market size for high voltage capacitors on a global annualized basis is approximately 16% of the global value for all capacitors. This is a large global market with demand coming primarily from applications in line voltage equipment, but also for applications in specialty end-use markets, such as defense, oil and gas related electronics and medical devices.

Global Capacitor Market Value

Figure 2: High Voltage Capacitors as a Subset to the Worldwide Capacitor Industry: 2012
Source: Paumanok Estimates

High Voltage Capacitor Markets by Component Configuration (Small Cans, Large Cans, Throughole and SMD Chips): 2012

Individual capacitor “cans” make up the largest portion of the high voltage capacitor markets by configuration and account for a combined 74% of global consumption value, while traditional components (chips, axial and radial leaded parts) account for 26% of the market in terms of dollar value for 2012. The capacitor “can” business includes the power transmission and distribution capacitors, the motor run capacitors, the power film capacitors, the industrial power factor correction capacitors, the magnetic ballast capacitors, the microwave oven capacitors; the screw terminal aluminum capacitors and the snap-in aluminum capacitors. Components include the AC and Pulse film capacitors (Radial), the ceramic capacitors (MLCC, SLC, axial and radial and doorknob) the tantalum wet slug capacitors (axial), the Mica capacitors (axial) and the glass capacitors (radial).

The chart below breaks out the high voltage capacitor “can” business by type- and includes the small can business (i.e. motor run, industrial PFC, magnetic ballast, microwave oven and snap in aluminum capacitors- 45% of consumption value) from the “large can” business (i.e. power T&D capacitors and screw terminal aluminum capacitors- 29% of high voltage capacitor consumption value).

The chart also shows the surface mount chip business (all MLCC) consumed for high voltage applications (9% of consumption value); as well as the “throughole” business, which combined the axial and radial leaded components such as the radial leaded AC -and Pulse capacitors (17% of consumption value for high voltage capacitors by configuration); the throughole ceramic capacitors, the tantalum wet capacitors, and the mica capacitors.

Global Consumption Value by Component Configuration

Figure 3: High Voltage Capacitors: Global Consumption Value by Component Configuration: 2012
Source: Paumanok Publications, Inc. Estimates

High Voltage Capacitors: Demand by End-Use Market Segment: 2012

The following chart illustrates consumption of high voltage capacitors by end-use market segment. In this chart we illustrate the aggregated consumption of capacitors, regardless of dielectric. The reader should note that many of these end markets consume more than one type of high voltage capacitor. The key end markets are power supplies; utility grade power transmission and distribution; industrial drives and inverters, motors, defense electronics, industrial PFC and other line voltage markets. Also of keen interest is the smaller specialty end-use market segments where high voltage requirements are also pared with additional requirements that may include high temperature (200 Degrees C and above), high frequency (greater than 1 Ghz), radiation hardening, corrosion resistance or extremely high vibration for extended period of time. Such markets include defense, oil and gas electronics, medical electronics, semiconductor manufacturing and other exotic markets which collectively account for about 13% of high voltage capacitor consumption in 2012.

High Voltage Capacitor Consumption Value by End-Use Market Segment

Figure 4: High Voltage Capacitor Consumption Value by End-Use Market Segment: 2012
Source: Paumanok Estimates

Forecasts: 2017 Outlook for High Voltage Capacitors by End-Use Market Segment

Key growth markets for high voltage capacitors will be industrial drives and inverters; PSC motors; oil -and gas electronics, and medical electronics. Declining markets will be in TV sets (degaussing), microwave ovens (serious downward pricing pressure) and in lighting ballasts (replaced by LEDs). Significant markets for high voltage capacitors are expected to remain in all three primary regions of the world, including Asia-Pacific, the Americas and Europe over the next five years. Growth by capacitor type will favor the large can aluminum electrolytic capacitors, the high voltage MLCC, as well as the wet slug tantalum capacitors; mica capacitors and glass capacitors. Growth in plastic film capacitors will still be healthy, but certain segments will decline i.e. ballast capacitors; microwave oven capacitors and degassing capacitors, making plastic film capacitors grow at a slower rate compared to the aluminum and ceramic capacitor lines. Overall, high voltage capacitors will continue to represent a significant portion of the global capacitor industry and account for segments of the market will remain significantly profitable for component vendors, especially when the high voltage requirement is matched with the need for the capacitor to also withstand high temperature, high frequency, high vibration, corrosives, radiation or other aspects of a truly harsh environment.

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Featured Contributor:
Dennis M. Zogbi

Dennis M. Zogbi

Dennis M. Zogbi is the author of more than 260 market research reports on the worldwide electronic components industry. Specializing in capacitors, resistors, inductors and circuit protection component markets, technologies and opportunities; electronic materials including tantalum, ceramics, aluminum, plastics; palladium, ruthenium, nickel, copper, barium, titanium, activated carbon, and conductive polymers. Zogbi produces off-the-shelf market research reports through his wholly owned company, Paumanok Publications, Inc, as well as single client consulting, on-site presentations, due diligence for mergers and acquisitions, and he is the majority owner of Passive Component Industry Magazine LLC.

Paumanok, Inc.

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