Capacitor Management Guide, part 2

The following is part 2 of a guide on ship capacitor management - you can find part 1 here. This content is derived from a syllabus for a class that I teach at EVE University. I wrote the original syllabus in 2010, and it has been improved considerably since then, thanks to revisions and additions from professor Kivena and many other teachers at the UNI - my heartfelt thanks to all of them.

This guide was last updated on December 6, 2014.

Improving Capacitor Performance

CapacitorLogo.png

Improving your ship's capacitor performance is somewhat of an arcane science. For example, you will find items with bonuses simply listed as “capacitor bonus” – this increases the total size of your capacitor, but because the recharge time does not change it also increases your recharge rate, in effect.

You will also find items with a “capacitor recharge rate bonus”. EVE names this bonus rather badly, because it doesn't actually increase your recharge rate, at least not directly. What it really does is reduce the recharge time by the percentage listed – and because the capacitor capacity does not change, it also effectively increases recharge rate.

As you strive to improve capacitor performance, it's best to verify the effects of your actions in a fitting tool like EFT, EVEHQ or Pyfa, just to make sure you understand what is really happening.

There are six ways to improve the performance of your capacitor:

  • Skills - learning capacitor-related skills will have the most effect on your capacitor performance, and higher-level skills will enable you to fit modules that use capacitor power more efficiently.
  • Modules - certain modules modify either your capacitor's capacity or your recharge rate.
  • Rigs - some ship modifications can improve the performance of your capacitor significantly. However, rigs are permanent, and therefore should be considered very carefully before fitting them.
  • Implants - a few implants will enable you to manage capacitor performance better.
  • Booster drugs - some drugs can also temporarily improve your capacitor use, albeit with some potential negative side effects.
  • Management techniques - knowing when and how to engage certain modules on your ship can help to improve your capacitor's usefulness, even if you are not cap stable.

Capacitor-enhancing Skills

Seventeen skills can help the sub-capital ship pilot to manage their capacitor more effectively. Some cap-related skills apply only to very specific sets of modules (for example, Sensor Linking won't help you if you never use sensor dampeners or remote sensor boosters). Some, however, are essential for every capsuleer.

  • Essential capacitor management skills - every pilot should train these to level 4 or higher:
    • Energy Management: 5 percent bonus to total capacitor capacity per level
    • Energy Systems Operation: 5 percent cap recharge rate reduction per level
    • These first two are amazing cap skills.  In the long term, if you fly combat ships a lot, training these to 5 is very worthwhile (although Energy Management has a relatively long training time).
    • Warp Drive Operation: 10 percent reduction per level in capacitor use when initiating warp, which always consumes a large amount of cap
  • Module-related capacitor management skills - depending on the roles you wish to take as a capsuleer, these skills can help greatly in reducing capacitor requirements for certain modules, and should be trained to level 3, at a minimum:
    • Controlled Bursts: 5 percent per level reduced cap use for hybrid and energy turrets (very important for hybrid/laser users, and no use for projectile/missile users)
    • Fuel Conservation: 10 percent reduced cap per level for afterburners (a hefty bonus, together with the duration increase from the Afterburner skill itself, makes it very easy to perma-run an afterburner at level IV or V)
    • High Speed Maneuvering: 5 percent reduced cap per level for microwarpdrives (very useful in PvP engagements)
    • Propulsion Jamming: 5 percent reduction per level to warp scrambler/disruptor and stasis web capacitor need (essential for tacklers)
    • Shield Compensation: 2 percent less capacitor need per level for shield boosters (though in the long run it's good to train for both kinds of tanking, if you only use buffer shield tanks, this may not be useful for you)
    • Jump Drive Operation: 5 percent reduction per level of the capacitor need of initiating a jump (useful only for pilots of capital ships with jump drives)
  • Logistics-related capacitor management modules - remote repair modules require a great deal of capacitor energy, so if you fit any of these modules, consider training the related skill to level 3 or higher:
    • Energy Emission Systems: 5 percent reduced cap per level for energy emission weapons (energy neutralizers and nosferatu energy vampire modules)
    • Remote Armor Repair Systems: 5 percent reduced capacitor need per level for remote armor repair modules (vital if you ever do armor RR work)
    • Shield Emission Systems: 5 percent reduced capacitor need per level for shield emission modules (important if you ever find yourself in a shield logistics ship)
    • Remote Hull Repair Systems: 5 percent reduced capacitor need per level for remote hull repair system modules (not so vital, as RR hull tanking isn't efficient)
  • EWAR-related capacitor management modules - if you fit electronic warfare modules, you will want to train the relevant EWAR capacitor improvement skill(s) to level 4 or higher:
    • Electronic Warfare: 5 percent less cap per level for ECM jammers and ECM bursts (required for Caldari EWAR)
    • Sensor Linking: 5 percent less capacitor need per level for remote sensor boosters and sensor dampeners (useful for Gallente EWAR)
    • Target Painting: 5 percent less capacitor need per level for target painters (useful for Minmatar EWAR)
    • Weapon Disruption: 5 percent less capacitor need per level for tracking disruptors (useful for Amarr EWAR)

Capacitor-related Modules

While all modules use some powergrid to fit, and all active modules draw from the capacitor to operate, some modules also serve to modify and improve your capacitor's recharge rate or available energy amount. Fortunately, modules that affect powergrid, CPU, or capacitor are spared from the usual stacking penalties. For example, you can fit as many Capacitor Recharger I modules as you want, and each will improve cap recharge time by a full 15 percent.

  • Capacitor booster module
    • Cap Boosters - these mid-slot modules use cap booster charges to inject a temporary amount of power into the capacitor. The boosters must be loaded with charges much in the same way that weapons are loaded with ammunition, and activated when required. Booster charges come in several sizes from 25 GJ to 800 GJ, measured in gigajoules (GJ). Cap boosters are most often employed in PvP ship configurations, which are generally not cap stable, to provide a safety margin in combat.
  • Capacitor recharge rate-enhancing modules
    • Cap Rechargers - these mid-slot modules increase recharge rate by 15 percent with the Tech I standard version, up to 20 percent for the Tech II version (requires Energy Grid Upgrades skill at Level III). Cap Rechargers are commonly found in many PvE cap stable ship configurations. (Note that because of the way these things are calculated, this 15 percent bonus to recharge rate actually means a 15 percent reduction to recharge time, which in turn equates to roughly an 18 percent increase in peak recharge rate.)
    • Cap Power Relays - these low-slot modules increase your cap recharge rate, more than Cap Rechargers in general. For example, the basic Capacitor Power Relay I increases recharge rate (i.e. reduces recharge time) by 20 percent. However, power relays also reduce your shield boosting rate - for example, the Tech I version reduces it by 10 percent.
    • Capacitor Flux Coils provide a bonus to the capacitor recharge rate, but also reduce the size of the capacitor. The Capacitor Flux Coil I, for example, increases the capacitor recharge rate by 36 percent, but at the cost of reducing capacitor capacity by 20 percent. Flux Coils take up a low slot.
  • Modules that enhance both capacitor capacity and recharge rate
    • Power Diagnostics Systems - these low-slot modules are the "general purpose" power-enhancement module; they increase cap size and the recharge rate, and also provides bonuses to shield recharge rate and powergrid. For example, the basic Power Diagnostic System I module increases capacitor capacity by 4 percent, improves recharge rate by 7.5 percent, raises powergrid by 5 percent, improves shield recharge rate by 7.5 percent, and increases shield hit points by 4 percent. The Tech II version of this module, which requires Energy Grid Upgrades IV, adds another 1 percent bonus to the benefits of the comparable Tech I version (except powergrid, which increases by 5%).
    • Capacitor Batteries - these mid-slot modules increase cap storage, and because the amount of time to recharge the battery-enhanced capacitor doesn’t change, adding a battery effectively improves the recharge rate as well. Note that the skill Energy Management increases cap capacity by 5 percent, and other percentage effects apply after these batteries, so training this higher makes batteries more effective. Also, cap batteries provide a degree of defense against energy weapons ("nosses" and "neuts") - they will reflect back a portion of the energy neutralizer or vampire effect back on the attacker.

Capacitor-related Rigs

To install ship modifications (a.k.a., "rigs"), you will first need to train Jury Rigging to level III. You will then also have to train additional specialty rigging skills to at least level I to mount various types of rigs on your ship.

Training specialty rigging skills to high levels produces relatively little benefit -- they reduce the impact of drawbacks for using rigs, but those drawbacks are generally not onerous to begin with. To fit Tech II rigs, you must train relevant rigging skills to level IV, but Tech II rigs are extremely expensive and not recommended for any but the most wealthy of capsuleers.

The most commonly used rig for capacitor management is the Capacitor Control Circuit, which increases a ship's capacitor recharge rate by 15 percent. Many pilots fit one or more CCCs to achieve cap stability for PvE missioning.  You can see why this one is more popular (and thus more expensive in the market) - it provides a greater benefit to peak recharge rate than the other primary rig, the Semiconductor Memory Cell - which increases capacitor capacity by 15 percent. 

In some situations, you might find having more initial cap preferable than a faster recharge rate - for certain PvP ships, for example, if combat encounters are expected to be short.

Much like skills, there are many other rigs that decrease the capacitor need for specific modules. The only one of these that's used a lot is the Egress Port Maximizer, which is the only rig to increase your energy neut/vampire effectiveness, but each of these have value in some highly specialized ship fitting configurations:

Cap-improving Implants

Implants are items that you can plug into your character's brain to boost skills and attributes. You have ten slots available in your head for implants. Not all implants can fit an any slot, however. Slots 1-5 are for Attribute Enhancers, and slots 6-10 are for Skill Hardwirings, and certain implants only work in specific individual slot locations.

Implants are similar to rigs because they are also semi-permanent enhancements - they cannot be removed without destroying them. For this reason, pilots should consider the mix of implants in their ten available slots very carefully before plugging them in to their heads.

The main advantage to implants is that their bonuses apply to any ship that you fly, and these bonuses generally do not stack! In other words, if you have a capacitor enhancing implant, and your ship has capacitor enhancing rigs and modules fitted, your implant bonus applies completely, without any stacking penalties. (Note: there are a few exceptions to this - for example, the Snake series of implants does stack to prevent absurdly high speeds from being obtained.)

To use any implant, you need at least Cybernetics trained to Level 1, which itself requires Level 3 in Science. The more powerful and expensive implants require higher levels of training in Cybernetics, and often cost large amounts of ISK, but they can give you very useful improvements in your abilities.

Note that you can keep separate sets of implants in various jump clones, and then jump into whatever clone you need for different purposes. Many pilots maintain separate clones for combat with PvP and ship-enhancing implants, for learning with high attribute improvement implants, and/or for industry with special implants for mining or hauling, for example.

If you want to use implants to improve your capacitor management, the most useful to install are:

  • Inherent Implants 'Squire' Energy Systems Operation EO-60x series - these reduce capacitor recharge time by 1 to 6 percent, depending on the model number. This is an Engineering implant which fits into Slot 6.
  • Inherent Implants 'Squire' Energy Management EM-80x series - these increase capacitor capacity by 1 to 6 percent, depending on the model. This is also an Engineering implant, fitting in Slot 8.

Other capacitor performance enhancing implants include:

  • Eifyr and Co. 'Rogue' Warp Drive Operation WD-60x - reduce warp drive operation capacitor usage (-2 to -12 percent) - Navigation / Slot 6
  • Inherent Implants 'Noble' Repair Systems RS-60x - reduce capacitor need for remote repair (-1 to -6 percent) - Armor / Slot 6
  • Inherent Implants 'Squire' Energy Emission Systems ES-70x - reduce capacitor need for energy emission systems (-1 to -6 percent) - Engineering / Slot 7
  • Inherent Implants 'Lancer' Controlled Bursts CB-70x - reduce turret capacitor usage (-1 to -6 percent) - Gunnery / Slot 7
  • Inherent Implants 'Sergeant' XE4 - reduce energy emission systems capacitor usage (-3 percent) - Special / Slot 7
  • Eifyr and Co. 'Rogue' Fuel Conservation FC-80x - reduce afterburner capacitor usage (-1 to -6 percent) - Navigation / Slot 8
  • Zainou 'Gypsy' Propulsion Jamming PJ-80x - reduce warp disruptor, scrambler or webifier capacitor usage (-1 to -6 percent) - Electronics / Slot 8
  • Zainou 'Gnome' Shield Emission Systems SE-80x - reduce cap usage by shield emission system modules, such as shield transfer array (-1 to -6 percent) - Shield / Slot 8
  • Zainou 'Gypsy' EW-90x - reduce cap usage by electronic warfare modules (-1 to -6 percent) - Electronics / Slot 9
  • Zainou 'Gypsy' Sensor Linking SL-90x - reduce cap usage by remote sensor dampeners (-1 to -6 percent) - Electronics / Slot 9
  • Zainou 'Gypsy' Weapon Disruption WD-90x - reduce cap usage by weapon disruption modules (-1 to -6 percent) - Electronics / Slot 9
  • Zainou 'Gypsy' Target Painting TG-90x - reduce cap usage by target painters (-1 to -6 percent) - Electronics / Slot 9
  • Eifyr and Co. 'Rogue' High Speed Maneuvering HS-90x - reduce microwarpdrive capacitor usage (-1 to -6 percent) - Navigation / Slot 9
  • For capital ship pilots only:
    • Zainou 'Sprite' KXX(500/1000/2000) - reduces capacitor need for capital shield emission system modules (-1/-3/-5 percent) - Special / Slot 6
    • Inherent Implants 'Gentry' ZEX(20/200/2000) - reduced capacitor need for capital remote armor repair system modules (-1/-3/-5 percent) - Special / Slot 7

Cap-affecting Ship Bonuses

Some ships provide capacitor reduction bonuses for starship command skill levels for that ship type. For example, many Amarr combat ships give a 10 percent cap reduction per Amarr Frig/Cruiser/etc. level for lasers, which is probably the most important skill for managing cap on those ships. Select "Show Info" on your ship, and look in the Traits tab to see what kinds of bonuses it provides.

Cap-affecting Booster Drugs

Booster drugs are designed to produce a temporary effect which lasts between 36 minutes and 1 hour, depending on the pilot's Biology skill level. The Mindflood Booster will temporarily increase the pilot's ability to manage ship energy, resulting in an effective capacitor capacity increase of between 3 and 20 percent, depending on the strength of the Mindflood booster taken. They act like a temporary implant.

Boosters have several disadvantages, however:

  • Only the Synth version of Mindflood is legal in Empire space - and it only produces a 3 percent improvement in capacitor capacity. The stronger versions, with higher bonuses - Standard (10%), Improved (15%), and Strong (20%) - are illegal in Empire, difficult to find, and expensive.
  • Except for the legal Synth version, stronger boosters also have the potential for up to four negative side effects. A Mindflood taker could also see one or more penalties for armor repair rate, reductions in missile damage, lower shield boosting, and shorter turret optimal range. The chance for these penalties are determined by the strength of the drug, and the pilot's level of two skills: Nanite Control and Neurotoxin Recovery.
  • Note: Some other booster drugs, such as Blue Pill and Exile, have a potential side effect of capacitor capacity reduction.

Capacitor Management Techniques

Here is some general advice and a few tips about actions you can take to manage your capacitor more effectively - and to help ruin your opponents' day, too.

Fit your ship intelligently.

  • Eve Fitting Tool, or EFT, is your friend. Test various configurations of modules, rigs, and implants using EFT, and you'll be able to better improve your capacitor performance. (EveHQ or Pyfa or your particular favorite fitting tool will work, too.)
  • For PvE: focus on capacitor recharge rate. You want to maintain an active defensive shield or armor tank for a relatively long time in missions, so investing in improving your cap recharge rate will pay off more than maximizing the size of your cap. If you are flying a battlecruiser or battleship, consider fitting Capacitor Control Circuit rigs. Train Energy Grid Upgrades to level III, so that you can fit Cap Recharger IIs in your midslots, to increase your recharge rate by 20 percent for each one that you fit. Adjust the size and types of your weapons to maintain cap stability.
  • For PvP: focus on capacitor capacity. Player versus player engagements rarely last more than a minute or two, so you want to maximize your cap size, so that you can fit the most lethal weapons and maximize your damage dealing capability. Your tank should be designed to buffer you from the enemy, with the intention of killing them quickly, before they can penetrate your defenses - and as a result, your defenses should not be heavily reliant on capacitor energy.

Different flavors of modules can improve your cap usage.

  • Note that some "meta 1" module variants operate with lower cap power needs, compared to standard modules for the same functions - and often at an affordable cost.
  • Tech II fittings for capacitor enhancing modules provide some of the best bonuses, but also at higher prices. However, in general, you get the best cost-to-performance ratios with Tech II modules.
  • Faction, deadspace and officer versions of cap-related modules provide the highest benefits, but usually at extraordinarily high prices. Further, flying with very expensive faction modules makes you a prime target for pirates and gankers, so beware!

Consider how your weapons affect your cap.

  • Lasers: huge cap-drainers, especially beam lasers
  • Blasters: also huge cap-drainers
  • Railguns: more cap efficient, but also lower DPS, on average
  • Drones, missiles and projectile weapons: the capacitor's friends - they use no cap at all!
  • Experiment with different weapon types to manage your cap better. For example, some pilots fly the Punisher frigate, an Amarr ship that is usually fitted with lasers, but with autocannons fitted instead, giving them longer-lasting capacitor with no significant affect on damage output. Ask yourself: how could you adjust your weapons to improve your cap stability or longevity, and still be effective?

Turn off modules that you don't need right away.

  • Post-combat modules can be switched off before you undock: salvagers, tractor beams, remote repper modules (unless you are providing combat support)
  • Remember that turning modules on in space requires a very high percentage of available capacitor (usually 90 percent or more), so don't turn any critical systems off!
  • By pulsing a microwarpdrive (MWD) - that is, turning it on and then off so it only operates for one cycle - you minimize its effect on your cap. Remember that the fitting window calculates your cap stability assuming that all of your modules are turned on and engaged, including your MWD. If you only plan to use your MWD or your afterburner for very short intervals - and most pilots do - turning your MWD or AB off in the fitting window will let you see a more accurate picture of your real cap stability. (Don't forget to turn it back on before you undock, however!)
  • In fact, pulsing can also be used for just about any active module on your ship. Pulsing shield boosters is commonly used on active shield tanked ships to keep cap around 25-30 percent, to take advantage of the greater recharge rate at those values.

In combat, warp out BEFORE you fall below 25 percent of capacitor capacity - remember that the recharge rate falls off dramatically below this level.

Do NOT depend on energy warfare modules to sustain your cap - they are there to make the other person's day miserable, not to make yours easier!

  • Energy destabilizers, also known as neutralizers or "neuts", can be very effective weapons, as they effectively reduce the capacity of your enemy's capacitor.
  • Nosferatu energy vampire weapons (also known as "Nos") indeed look cool - and who doesn't want to suck the capacitor life out of your prey? However, they only reduce the opponent's capacitor to the same relative level of your capacitor - if you have a full cap, your Nos will do nothing! (The exception to this is the Ashimmu, which has a bonus for continual energy draining regardless of capacitor status.) The amount of capacitor energy drained by a Nosferatu is based on relative capacitor charge levels (measured in percent) between the two ships. Energy is only transferred while the capacitor charge percentage of the targeted ship is higher than the charge percentage of the ship that activated the Nosferatu. Therefore, consider Nos weapons as defensive weapons against energy destabilizers ("neuts"), not typically as offensive weapons. Cap boosters can also be used for anti-neut and anti-Nos protection, although their charges are very bulky and take up a lot of cargo space.
  • Neut and Nos weapons generally have short ranges. If you can't get close to your enemy, they are worthless.

Always remember that "cap is life"!

Fly safe! o7