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How dangerous are capacitors from inside a computer when removed from the power source?

How dangerous are capacitors from inside a computer when removed from the power source?

Postby haydn » Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:02 pm

My partner wants to use the capacitors from inside an iMac to make a bunch of models. He's concerned about the possibility of shocks etc. How likely is it that something will go wrong if they're un powered? The computer hadn't been turned on for about 4 months.
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How dangerous are capacitors from inside a computer when removed from the power source?

Postby burnel56 » Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:04 pm

very unlikely to get any kind of zap from a capacitor that's been unpowered for 4 months, but if you want to be 1000% sure about it, you can pass a screw driver or anything metal against the connections on the circuit board to short out any residual charge there may be. from my experience computers don't have capacitors that would deliver a fatal charge; in fact I've never been shocked by a computer capacitor and been working on repairing computers and electronics for about 20 years.

A camera flash capacitor on the other hand is extremely dangerous and could definitely kill someone if they didn't take precautions (I have been shocked by one of those and i thought I was dying! wow! they pack a hell of a punch)

so in either case, always discharge any electronics with capacitors by shorting out the circuit after disconnecting the power source(AC outlet). just to be that 1000% sure.

oh and the possible "ooze" leaking out is made of a compound with electrolytes and water, unless they are from before 1980s (they used PCB back then and is known to be a toxic substance). Modern capacitors contain nothing of extreme hazard, just wash your hands with soap and warm water and avoid contact with eyes and mouth.
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How dangerous are capacitors from inside a computer when removed from the power source?

Postby laoidhigh » Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:08 pm

It depends on the type of capacitor: the storage capacity and rate of discharge. A sufficiently large capacitor can pack quite a wallop if accidentally discharged and can, indeed, cause death. Believe it or not, a charge of 50mA is enough to cause cardiac defibrillation and kill a person.

From http://www.squidoo.com/power-supply-failure-symptoms:
"Keep in mind when opening a power supply unit, the capacitors can still have a charge. Thus said, they can be fatal (death) if one were to zap you just right, otherwise it might taz you to the ground, or simply shock you real good. Excercise caution when opening a power supply unit."

After four months, the odds are good that the capacitors no longer have that much of a charge. But since capacitors are designed to store electricity, one must never ASSUME that a capacitor is safe.

The other thing to be aware if is that capacitors are filled with a gel or liquid and, over time, the capacitors can bulge and break, causing this liquid to leak. I wouldn't want to handle a model with a bunch of nasty, leaky capacitors on it!
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How dangerous are capacitors from inside a computer when removed from the power source?

Postby cambeul » Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:10 pm

They do hold a charge but once the charge is depleted they ok as long as they are not punctured, could have poisons, within, carcinogenic, but they should be old hat by now, but just to be safe?
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How dangerous are capacitors from inside a computer when removed from the power source?

Postby krisoijn » Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:18 pm

Capacitors won't hold a charge for that long, and there probably aren't any in there that will give you more than a little shock.
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How dangerous are capacitors from inside a computer when removed from the power source?

Postby jermaine » Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:21 pm

They won't hold nearly enough charge to harm you.
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