Staying Alive While Playing With High Voltages


Introduction: Staying Alive While Playing With High Voltages

About: I'm an engineering student who loves to disassemble and create things, especially electronics. I also love to do projects that are easy for someone on a college budget to accomplish, though hopefully that wi...

Many people are interested in high voltage projects, and there are many great instructables on these types of projects, and for good reason. High voltage experimenting can create some of the most impressive and satisfying results. Whether its the authentic 60's sound coming from the vintage tube amp you built or 8 foot streamers jutting out of your new tesla coil, when one plays with high voltage, great thinks can result.

If you don't take the utmost care when playing with high voltages though, projects can quickly go wrong, and when high voltage projects go wrong they can easily result in death. There are many tips to save yourself from shocks when working with high voltage. Obviously work on circuits with the power off, and make sure that everything is correctly grounded.

Unfortunately sometimes the best of planning won't save you from your one moment of clumsiness, and if that moment occurs with your hands surrounding any high voltage source, like a large tank capacitor which hadn't been correctly discharged, it could be your last move. That is unless you follow this piece of advice.

When possible ALWAYS work with one hand in your pocket, and one hand on the device. Electricity always takes the shortest path to ground, and if its unavoidable to have that path go through your body, you might as well have it go through in a way that won't kill you. With one hand in your pocket electricity will never go through your heart or other vital organs, instead it may find ground through your arm and down your leg, saving your life.

Don't get me wrong, there will likely be damage, and it will hurt to no end, but using this method your chances of surviving electric shock grow exponentially. When you give lighting no path through vital organs you give it no chance to kill, and you can live on to mess with even higher voltages the next day (if you so desire).



    • Oil Contest

      Oil Contest
    • Clocks Contest

      Clocks Contest
    • Creative Misuse Contest

      Creative Misuse Contest

    10 Discussions

    How about chainmail armour (head to toe) like the one for diving? This will make a kind of faraday cage around you. Saw a variant of it being used by an artist to be under electric arc. Used by people who worked on High voltage power line.

    Good advice,but I do have to correct one misconception. You keep you hand in your pocket so that it is difficult to touch two parts of the circuit with both hands. That may allow current to flow thru your chest. Don't count on one hand in your pocket diverting any current. To begin with the cloth lining will act as an insulator with much higher resistance than your body. One of the best ways to prevent corrent flowing down your body is to stand on a DRY insulator sheet such as a rubber mat or plywood sheet. The floors inside large tube transmitters used to be lined with rubber for this very reason. Cheers !

    7 replies

    Well it should divert the electricity but you would get NASTY burns around the wire on your wrist.

    well, when working with tesla coil streamers, i haven't seen an insulator yet that makes a bit of difference in stopping arcs within its range, i have seen it jump straight through pvc, electric tape, and even GTO wire insulation easily

    That is because a tesla coil operates on high frequencies, which, like you said isnt stopped by insulation.

    Ah well thank you, I had always heard this advice thinking it would provide a path to ground going through less vital organs, but I see what you are saying. I think that it will accomplish both things but not having a conductive path hand to hand is more important, and yes anything insulating would definitely help.