Tantalum cap?

I have a schematic I want to use to create a device. It shows the inclusion of a tantalum capacitor. Considering the cost of this cap, I’m wondering if I can replace it with a aluminum electrolytic.

All the information I can find is that tantalum is “usually” preferred because of space constraints. This schematic is rather old, so I think that may be the case.

This cap is 10uF at 10V. In the BOM included with this schematic, it shows this cap at 98 cents but the current price is now shown as $4.23.

Looking for opinions.


Hello Bart,

We have a previous post on this. Here is the link: Features of Tantalum Capacitor

I know the tantalum capacitors have better stability. I know cost is more. Yet I would recommend that you would use the tantalum if that is what they have recommended. You could test with an electrolytic to see if there is any performance issues. Though the previous post attached does give the differences.

It seems there is an update with a new schematic that is being released with an electrolytic cap in place of the Tantilium cap. I’ll wait on it to do my project. But, at least I learned something. So that’s a good thing!


You are welcome Bart. . Yes I agree it is nice to learn new things.

Tantalum capacitors use a dry electrolyte that should last for a century. Electrolytic capacitors use a wet electrolyte that will dry out over time and need replacement. From my experience at work, were we routinely repair 20 to 50 year old models of our products, no tantalum has ever died from age, and all electrolytics over 20 years old are marginal in performance or actually bad.

The first 25+ of these in stock 10uF 10V tantalum capacitors are less than $0.50 for a single piece.

However the current 2020s trend is to use 10uF 10V ceramic capacitors because they also have a very long life and are even less expensive.

As an FYI, be careful not to fall for the many myths about tantalum capacitors. When I started designing them into circuits 40 years ago many engineers made design errors that led to persistent myths of explosions, fires, and not being suitable for any application. On forums in the 90s I was repeatedly told my designs with a 5 year warranty would bite my employer and I because I used tantalums instead of aluminum electrolytics. Sadly although tantalums have been very successfully deployed in billions of good designs over the last 40 years, I still occasionally encounter the old myths on the net.

What started all this was looking up the part in the schematic.
The part called for, is 399-4545-ND. The single price is $4.23.

Ah, it’s in an ancient through hole package that from the data sheet is:

molded solid tantalum capacitors designed specifically for high-speed automatic insertion applications.

Through hole parts are getting vastly more expensive than surface mount. Add in an oddball package variation made specifically to facilitate insertion with automobile priced assembly gear and you have a recipe for outrageously priced parts. Those who absolutely need them because they can’t abandon their assembly machine will pay the price, everybody else should choose a different lead style. Or even better switch to SMT.

Here’s through hole 10uF 10V to 25V parts, more expensive than SMT but mostly less than $1.00.

NOTE: with through hole, 10V is more expensive, all through hole parts are destined for ever increasing prices since they are sold in miniscule, and ever shrinking, quantities.