I have electronic devices from 1990 (SNES, CRT TVs.) I know that these devices that have not been used for a long time can develop faults and depolarization in the electrolytic capacitors.

Is it necessary to use these devices in the interval of once a month to prevent the electrolytic capacitors from failing due to disuse?

These are used electrolytic capacitors manufactured since 1990 and assembled in electronic circuits.

Is it necessary to use the devices once a month to avoid damage to the electrolytic capacitors? What do you recommend?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Depolarization in context of capacitors? Are you sure? \$\endgroup\$ May 19 at 12:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ You're probably talking about "re-forming" the capacitors, which does not seem to be an issue with relatively modern (last 40 or 50 years) electrolytic capacitors. \$\endgroup\$ May 19 at 12:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Mario, I've been an EE for 10 years and never heard of "depolarization". A much more common failure mode for old caps is that the electrolyte "dries" out and the capacitor fails. Using the capacitor periodically does not assist in longevity. Old caps sometimes just need replacing. \$\endgroup\$
    – pgvoorhees
    May 19 at 12:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you're over-worrying about some issue that does not apply to modern (1990's is still "modern, I mean, it doesn't use valves) equipment. Using or not using a device generally make no difference. Most devices work flawlessly after not being used for decades. Some devices might have developed an issue. There is no way to prevent that. But there are no guarantees. Powering up a device every month might "save it" but it could just as well break it. There is no way to tell. \$\endgroup\$ May 19 at 12:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Mario Snes - Welcome :-) As I wrote below one of your (now deleted) answers, please stop using the box labeled "Your Answer" below. Stack Exchange is not like a forum and has different rules. If you have new information as part of your question, then please Edit the question. Do not use the "Your Answer" box to add that information. You can see more site rules in the tour and help center. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – SamGibson
    May 19 at 13:08

No. Yes. Maybe?

There are several degrading effects of electrolytes, that often act against each other, so witch one that eventually kills the capacitor is impossible to know.

A similar analogy would be car engine; If unused eventually rust and corrosion would seize up the engine. That can be counteracted by running it for a bit every once in a while. But for how long? Just starting the engine can lead to a buildup of soot and oil, something that can also result in a seized up engine. So while starting the engine prevents one issue, you instead create another. Same thing with electrolytes.

The differences in technology, usage, stress and ratings vary wildly, but electrolytes has a finite lifetime.

The only thing that certainly kills an electrolyte faster is temperature, so store the electronics in a cool environment. In other words: Keep them out of the sun, away from ovens, and such. (the obvious question is "Can I store them in an refrigerator", but due to condensation I would advice against that)


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