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General Information

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General Information

Definition of Component Tolerance

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Definition of Component Tolerance

Tolerance is defined as the total allowance for error in a specified figure, in other words, the sum of the absolute values of the positive and negative limits by which the nominal figure may be allowed to vary.

In practice, a low (negative) limit of -10% applied to a 10F capacitor implies that it could have a capacitance as low as 9F while a high (positive) limit of +10% implies it could rise as high as 11F. The sum of the limits is 20% and the total range of the discrepancy from the nominal figure is 2F - that is 20% of the nominal 10F. 

The entire scope of the limits -10% to +10% gives us a tolerance of 20%, but common usage has adopted the convention that the (two) limits of 10% be classed (inaccurately) as a tolerance of 10%.

Limits of -0% +10% (or -10% +0%)  equate to a tolerance of 10%  (0+10), so here the tolerance is of the same magnitude as the limits.

As the word tolerance is that normally used for expressions like '10%' we follow that custom, as we do where tolerance is implied, rather than specified with positive and negative limits (e.g. a stated tolerance of 10% implies 10%). We therefore follow that convention in conversation and throughout this publication.

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