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Are Tesla Coils Dangerous? Can Tesla Coils Electrocute?

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An electronic fan who is working in the Huaqiang North Commercial Area which is called China's electronic first street, located in Shenzhen.


Is discharge from a tesla coil harmful to humans? Or is it harmful to touch the arc of a tesla coil when it discharges? In some pictures and articles, there are two quite different views. One is that it is very dangerous to touch and die, and the other is that people can feel it without great discomfort. Which one is right?

Let's see how tesla coils work: Tesla coil is a distributed parameter high-frequency series resonant transformer. It can obtain a high-frequency voltage of millions of volts. It has a two-stage booster coil which made it can take a household 220V voltage up to tens or even hundreds of thousands of volts and discharge it through a discharge terminal.


Skin Effect

Tesla coil is a distributed parameter high-frequency series resonant transformer, which can obtain a high-frequency voltage of millions of volts. And What is the “skin effect”? When there is an alternating current in the conductor (tesla coil), the current inside the conductor is unevenly distributed. The current is concentrated in the "skin" part of the conductor, that is to say, the closer you are to the surface of a conductor, the greater the current density, and the smaller the actual current inside the conductor. The result is an increase in the resistance of the conductor and an increase in its loss of power. This phenomenon is called the skin effect. So the contact of the current is not very harmful to the human body. But only skin effect which is within the acceptable range of the body is meaningful.

Tesla Coil is Not as Danger as The Said In Some Way

The discharge of the tesla coil has produced the high AC voltage and the low current. However, the damage caused by an electric shock is mainly determined by electric current. So according to the definition of “skin effect”, the harm caused by tesla coil won’t be large. The harm mainly occurs in skin burns or severe burns, which are generally not life-threatening.

But the danger of the tesla coil is also relative to a certain extent. As the input power increases, the AC voltage increases. The danger of a tesla coil can skyrocket. For tesla coils powered by batteries or computer power, there is little danger, as the ultimate output is there.

Additionally, the real danger of the tesla coil is that it is a killer of electronics, with its high inductive voltage and powerful electromagnetic radiation that can instantly destroy nearby electronics. The more sophisticated, the more dangerous.

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What determines the danger (safety) of tesla coils?

Firstly, Discharge Form

There are several kinds of discharges, free-electron discharges, and closed-circuit discharges. The latter would be fatal, the displacement of electronic discharge is safe at a certain current rate, and has nothing to do with voltage.

If the electric charge is drifting through the body, it will not harm the body within a certain range of current. Unlike direct electrical currents, which travel only to the surface of an object, electrical currents can damage nerves as a whole.

Electron drift, that is, keeping electrons in a free state, allowing them to move freely.

The tesla coil generates free electrons at very high voltage. Theoretical values can be infinitely high. But because there is a certain distance from the earth, and air discharge, so it is usually impossible to reach infinite high.

So there is no danger of the priority passing through the human body and then starting the tesla coil because if the coil starts first and the human touches it, it will be hit by electrons in the form of lightning. But the premise of all is that you're doing the right tesla coil.

Secondly, High Frequency.

Normally tesla coil discharge frequency of hundreds to thousands of MHz, high-frequency high voltage current has skin effect, leaving only from the surface of the conductor. Exactly, it would be wrong to call a tesla coil an artificial lightning-a powerful burst of electricity, called direct current. The tesla coil is high-frequency alternating current. Small power (dozens of watts) coil can directly feel the arc, high power body wearing a shield suit is fine. If you don't wear it, it usually won't kill you.

Thirdly, Power.

There is little danger of using batteries or computer power - the ultimate output is there. This decision relates to your tesla coil design circuit diagram. When the current frequency exceeds 465LKHZ even higher because of the high-frequency current of the skin effect current will not enter the human body internal and only in the human body surface, the higher the frequency effect more apparent but the current is too large or burn the skin that will have to raise the voltage lower current step-up transformer such as input power is 1000W the safety current is 10 mA, according to the P = UI, the tesla coil output voltage should be 100 kV. It’s seemed can be controlled.

The End

Taken together, the tesla coil is not very dangerous and can be avoided with some attention. But to be on the safe side, a novice must be tested under the supervision of an experienced person or someone else, who can be rescued if something goes wrong. This article mainly talks about the tesla coil safety on the Electricity aspect. And other Tesla coil safety warnings must also be noticed, such as ear protection, RF warning, fire hazard...

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Guo-Coco

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