I am making an unregulated dual rail power supply for an audio chip amp from a center tapped step down transformer and bridge wave rectifier. There are capacitors between the ground and the positive, negative rails. Is there any problem with putting capacitors between the positive and the negative rails besides the above mentioned capacitors? If not what are some pros and cons.

I have never seen such implementation. I thought it would be beneficial as it would store more energy at higher voltage.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ It would be helpful if you could identify what you are trying to achieve, sometimes it makes sense to do what you propose, but usually not. \$\endgroup\$
    – crasic
    Nov 19, 2020 at 15:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is your power supply regulated or unregulated? if regulated it can have issues of false/non start of one of the regulators, it also depends on the size of the capacitor, a small bypass cap shouldn't have any issue. \$\endgroup\$
    – S.s.
    Nov 19, 2020 at 16:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Please simulate it! Say you have +-12 V. Do a step load on +12 V of them to ground and you’ll see you will probably make the situation worse for -12 V. Do a symmetrical between +12 V and -12 V and your capacitor is improving the situation. \$\endgroup\$
    – winny
    Nov 19, 2020 at 16:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is your load between the amplifier output and ground or is it like a bridging amplifier where most of the load is between one rail and the other? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 19, 2020 at 16:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I will connect it to a tda2050 chip amp. The positive, negative and the ground rails needs to perform their typical duties. The purpose of the capacitors is to minimize the DC ripple voltage. \$\endgroup\$
    – Likhon
    Nov 19, 2020 at 16:18

1 Answer 1


Caps between +V and -V rails will only decouple/smooth for devices that are being referenced to one of those rails rather than 0V (like an opamp between the positive and negative rail with no third pin dedicated to ground).

Caps from either +V or -V to 0V most effectively decouples devices are referenced to 0V. Although caps in this manner will decouple devices connected between +V and -V with no connection to GND, they will not be as effective at this as they otherwise could be. This is because you could arrange those same capacitors in parallel between the +V and -V rail to achieve an effective capacitance four times larger, but the price you pay is that those caps will no longer decouple for devices referenced to 0V.

NOTE: Some bipolar voltage devices, such as comparators or opamps, with digital inputs for auxilliary functions may have a ground pin that is only there to provide a reference potential for the logic digital inputs (so you don't have to do something weird like connect your MCU ground pin to -V so it can drive the logic input), and is not involved with the return currents for the bipolar voltage output. These do not count as a ground referenced devices as far as the return currents at the output are concerned.

For something like bipolar output switching converters, you may need a cap between +/-V to 0V even if your load is only connected across +V and -V because if the converter operates with two halves (as would likely be the case if it were regulated or not isolated), both halves would need independent smoothing. If the architecture doesn't operate as two halves (i.e. unregulated converter with a tapped transformer output) then it possibly won't have that same need.

It should be evident by now that it is just safer to connect between each power rail to 0V. You cover more scenarios that way, especially on a supply where the load is unknown.


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