Surfaces with switchable adhesive properties are employed by robots to quickly grip and release objects and thereby to perform dexterous manipulation and locomotion tasks. Robotic grippers with switchable adhesion have been developed using structured polymers and electrostatic mechanisms. However, manipulating delicate items can be challenging as this requires strong, switchable gripping forces that do not damage the target object. Soft nanocomposite electroadhesives (SNEs) were recently introduced as an option for handling such objects. The technology integrates an electrostatic adhesion mechanism into a mechanically compliant surface formed from dielectric-coated carbon nanotubes (CNTs) to ensure soft contact with target objects. In this study we explore the scaling of the electrostatic adhesion of SNEs, toward their potential application in macroscale grasping and manipulation. We measure electroadhesive pressures on millimeter-scale areas of up to ?20 kPa with an on/off adhesion ratio of ?700. Based on the measured forces and simple modeling, we conclude that the maximum achievable SNE adhesion forces are determined by dielectric breakdown in the insulating coating and surrounding air. Consequently, the SNE surface behaves as a parallel capacitor plate placed at an effective distance of 2.9 μm from the target object, despite being in contact with the target and therefore having the contacting CNTs separated from the surface by ?2 nm dielectric coating. This mechanistic understanding of soft nanocomposite electroadhesives outlines the capabilities of the technology and informs their design for advanced manufacturing applications.