This article needs additional citations for verification . (July 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The term high voltage usually means electrical energy at voltages high enough to inflict harm on living organisms. Equipment and conductors that carry high voltage warrant particular safety requirements and procedures. In certain industries, high voltage means voltage above a particular threshold (see below). High voltage is used in electrical power distribution, in cathode ray tubes, to generate X-rays and particle beams, to demonstrate arcing, for ignition, in photomultiplier tubes, and in high power amplifier vacuum tubes and other industrial, military and scientific applications.
Electrical energy is energy derived from electric potential energy or kinetic energy. When used loosely, electrical energy refers to energy that has been converted from electric potential energy. This energy is supplied by the combination of electric current and electric potential that is delivered by an electrical circuit. At the point that this electric potential energy has been converted to another type of energy, it ceases to be electric potential energy. Thus, all electrical energy is potential energy before it is delivered to the end-use. Once converted from potential energy, electrical energy can always be called another type of energy.
A particle beam is a stream of charged or neutral particles, in many cases moving at near the speed of light.
A photomultiplier is a device that converts incident photons into an electrical signal.
|IEC voltage range||AC RMS|
|DC voltage (V)||Defining risk|
|High voltage||> 1 000||> 1 500||Electrical arcing|
|Low voltage||50 to 1 000||120 to 1 500||Electrical shock|
|Extra-low voltage||< 50||< 120||Low risk|
The numerical definition of "high voltage" depends on context. Two factors considered in classifying a voltage as "high voltage" are the possibility of causing a spark in air, and the danger of electric shock by contact or proximity. The definitions may refer to the voltage between two conductors of a system, or between any conductor and ground.
In electrical engineering, ground or earth is the reference point in an electrical circuit from which voltages are measured, a common return path for electric current, or a direct physical connection to the earth.
In electric power transmission engineering, high voltage is usually considered any voltage over approximately 35,000 volts. This is a classification based on the design of apparatus and insulation.
Electric power transmission is the bulk movement of electrical energy from a generating site, such as a power plant, to an electrical substation. The interconnected lines which facilitate this movement are known as a transmission network. This is distinct from the local wiring between high-voltage substations and customers, which is typically referred to as electric power distribution. The combined transmission and distribution network is known as the "power grid" in North America, or just "the grid". In the United Kingdom, India, Tanzania, Myanmar, Malaysia and New Zealand, the network is known as the "National Grid".
The International Electrotechnical Commission and its national counterparts (IET, IEEE, VDE, etc.) define[ citation needed ]high voltage as above 1000 V for alternating current, and at least 1500 V for direct current—and distinguish it from low voltage (50 to 1000 VAC or 120–1500 VDC) and extra-low voltage (<50 VAC or <120 VDC) circuits. This is in the context of building wiring and the safety of electrical apparatus.
The International Electrotechnical Commission is an international standards organization that prepares and publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies – collectively known as "electrotechnology". IEC standards cover a vast range of technologies from power generation, transmission and distribution to home appliances and office equipment, semiconductors, fibre optics, batteries, solar energy, nanotechnology and marine energy as well as many others. The IEC also manages four global conformity assessment systems that certify whether equipment, system or components conform to its international standards.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is a multidisciplinary professional engineering institution. The IET was formed in 2006 from two separate institutions: the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE), dating back to 1871, and the Institution of Incorporated Engineers (IIE) dating back to 1884. Its worldwide membership is currently in excess of 168,000. The IET's main offices are in Savoy Place in London, England and at Michael Faraday House in Stevenage, England.
The VDE e. V. is one of Europe’s largest technical-scientific associations with 36,000 members, including 1,300 corporate and institutional members and 8,000 students.
In the United States 2011 National Electrical Code (NEC) is the standard regulating most electrical installations. There are no definitions relating to high voltage. The NEC covers voltages 600 volts and less and that over 600 volts. The National Electrical Manufacturer's Association (NEMA) defines high voltage as over 100 to 230 kV. British Standard BS 7671:2008 defines high voltage as any voltage difference between conductors that is higher than 1000 VAC or 1500 V ripple-free DC, or any voltage difference between a conductor and Earth that is higher than 600 VAC or 900 V ripple-free DC.
The National Electrical Code (NEC), or NFPA 70, is a regionally adoptable standard for the safe installation of electrical wiring and equipment in the United States. It is part of the National Fire Code series published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a private trade association. Despite the use of the term "national", it is not a federal law. It is typically adopted by states and municipalities in an effort to standardize their enforcement of safe electrical practices. In some cases, the NEC is amended, altered and may even be rejected in lieu of regional regulations as voted on by local governing bodies.
British Standard BS 7671 "Requirements for Electrical Installations. IET Wiring Regulations", informally called in the electrical community The "Regs", is the national standard in the United Kingdom for electrical installation and the safety of electrical wiring in domestic, commercial, industrial, and other buildings, also in special installations and locations, such as marinas or caravan parks.
Electricians may only be licensed for particular voltage classes in some jurisdictions. VAC), which carry the highest voltages they normally encounter, to be high voltage.For example, an electrical license for a specialized sub-trade such as installation of HVAC systems, fire alarm systems, closed circuit television systems may be authorized to install systems energized up to only 30 volts between conductors, and may not be permitted to work on mains-voltage circuits. The general public may consider household mains circuits (100 to 250
An electrician is a tradesman specializing in electrical wiring of buildings, transmission lines, stationary machines, and related equipment. Electricians may be employed in the installation of new electrical components or the maintenance and repair of existing electrical infrastructure. Electricians may also specialize in wiring ships, airplanes, and other mobile platforms, as well as data and cable lines.
Mains electricity is the general-purpose alternating-current (AC) electric power supply. It is the form of electrical power that is delivered to homes and businesses, and it is the form of electrical power that consumers use when they plug domestic appliances, televisions and electric lamps into wall outlets.
Voltages over approximately 50 volts can usually cause dangerous amounts of current to flow through a human being who touches two points of a circuit—so safety standards, in general, are more restrictive around such circuits. The definition of extra-high voltage (EHV) again depends on context. In electric power transmission engineering, EHV is classified as voltages in the range of 345,000 - 765,000 volts.In electronics systems, a power supply that provides greater than 275,000 volts is called an EHV Power Supply, and is often used in experiments in physics.
The accelerating voltage for a television cathode ray tube may be described as extra-high voltage or extra-high tension (EHT), compared to other voltage supplies within the equipment. This type of supply ranges from 5 kV to about 30 kV.
In automotive engineering, high voltage is defined as voltage in range 30 to 1000 VAC or 60 to 1500 VDC.
In digital electronics, a high voltage usually refers to something representing a logic 1 in positive logic and a logic 0 in negative logic. It is not used to indicate a hazardous voltage and levels between ICs to TTL/CMOS standards and their modern derivatives are well below hazardous levels. The highest in mainstream use were 15 V for original CMOS and 5 V for TTL but modern devices use 3.3 V, with 1.8 V or lower used in many applications.
Voltages greater than 50 V applied across dry unbroken human skin can cause heart fibrillation if they produce electric currents in body tissues that happen to pass through the chest area. The voltage at which there is the danger of electrocution depends on the electrical conductivity of dry human skin. Living human tissue can be protected from damage by the insulating characteristics of dry skin up to around 50 volts. If the same skin becomes wet, if there are wounds, or if the voltage is applied to electrodes that penetrate the skin, then even voltage sources below 40 V can be lethal.
Accidental contact with any high voltage supplying sufficient energy may result in severe injury or death. This can occur as a person's body provides a path for current flow, causing tissue damage and heart failure. Other injuries can include burns from the arc generated by the accidental contact. These burns can be especially dangerous if the victim's airway is affected. Injuries may also be suffered as a result of the physical forces experienced by people who fall from a great height or are thrown a considerable distance.
Low-energy exposure to high voltage may be harmless, such as the spark produced in a dry climate when touching a doorknob after walking across a carpeted floor. The voltage can be in the thousand-volt range, but the current (the rate of charge transfer) is low.
Safety equipment used by electrical workers includes insulated rubber gloves and mats. These protect the user from electric shock. Safety equipment is tested regularly to ensure it is still protecting the user. Test regulations vary according to country. Testing companies can test at up 300,000 volts and offer services from glove testing to Elevated Working Platform (or EWP) testing.
The dielectric breakdown strength of dry air, at Standard Temperature and Pressure (STP), between spherical electrodes is approximately 33 kV/cm. This is only as a rough guide, since the actual breakdown voltage is highly dependent upon the electrode shape and size. Strong electric fields (from high voltages applied to small or pointed conductors) often produce violet-colored corona discharges in air, as well as visible sparks. Voltages below about 500–700 volts cannot produce easily visible sparks or glows in air at atmospheric pressure, so by this rule these voltages are "low". However, under conditions of low atmospheric pressure (such as in high-altitude aircraft), or in an environment of noble gas such as argon or neon, sparks appear at much lower voltages. 500 to 700 volts is not a fixed minimum for producing spark breakdown, but it is a rule-of-thumb. For air at STP, the minimum sparkover voltage is around 327 volts, as noted by Friedrich Paschen.
While lower voltages do not, in general, jump a gap that is present before the voltage is applied, interrupting an existing current flow with a gap often produces a low-voltage spark or arc. As the contacts are separated, a few small points of contact become the last to separate. The current becomes constricted to these small hot spots, causing them to become incandescent, so that they emit electrons (through thermionic emission). Even a small 9 V battery can spark noticeably by this mechanism in a darkened room. The ionized air and metal vapour (from the contacts) form plasma, which temporarily bridges the widening gap. If the power supply and load allow sufficient current to flow, a self-sustaining arc may form. Once formed, an arc may be extended to a significant length before breaking the circuit. Attempting to open an inductive circuit often forms an arc, since the inductance provides a high-voltage pulse whenever the current is interrupted. AC systems make sustained arcing somewhat less likely, since the current returns to zero twice per cycle. The arc is extinguished every time the current goes through a zero crossing, and must reignite during the next half-cycle to maintain the arc.
Unlike an ohmic conductor, the resistance of an arc decreases as the current increases. This makes unintentional arcs in an electrical apparatus dangerous since even a small arc can grow large enough to damage equipment and start fires if sufficient current is available. Intentionally produced arcs, such as used in lighting or welding, require some element in the circuit to stabilize the arc's current/voltage characteristics.
A high voltage is not necessarily dangerous if it cannot deliver substantial current. The common static electric sparks seen under low-humidity conditions always involve voltage well above 700 V. For example, sparks to car doors in winter can involve voltages as high as 20,000 V. Also, physics demonstration devices such as Van de Graaff generators and Wimshurst machines can produce voltages approaching one million volts, yet at worst they deliver a brief sting. That is because the number of electrons involved is not high. These devices have a limited amount of stored energy, so the average current produced is low and usually for a short time, with impulses peaking in the 1 A range for a nanosecond. During the discharge, these machines apply high voltage to the body for only a millionth of a second or less. So a low current is applied for a very short time, and the number of electrons involved is very small.
The discharge may involve extremely high voltage over very short periods, but, to produce heart fibrillation, an electric power supply must produce a significant current in the heart muscle continuing for many milliseconds, and must deposit a total energy in the range of at least millijoules or higher. Relatively high current at anything more than about fifty volts can therefore be medically significant and potentially fatal.
Tesla coils are not electrostatic machines and can produce significant currents for a sustained interval. Although their appearance in operation is similar to high voltage static electricity devices, the current supplied to a human body will be relatively constant as long as contact is maintained, and the voltage will be much higher than the break-down voltage of human skin. As a consequence, the output of a Tesla coil can be dangerous or even fatal.
Electrical transmission and distribution lines for electric power typically use voltages between tens and hundreds of kilovolts, so contact with or close approach to the line conductors presents a danger of electrocution. Contact with overhead wires is a frequent cause of injury or death. Metal ladders, farm equipment, boat masts, construction machinery, aerial antennas, and similar objects are frequently involved in fatal contact with overhead wires. Digging into a buried cable can also be dangerous to workers at an excavation site. Digging equipment (either hand tools or machine driven) that contacts a buried cable may energize piping or the ground in the area, resulting in electrocution of nearby workers. A fault in a high-voltage transmission line or substation may result in high currents flowing along the surface of the earth, producing an earth potential rise that also presents a danger of electric shock.
Unauthorized persons climbing on power pylons or electrical apparatus are also frequently the victims of electrocution.At very high transmission voltages even a close approach can be hazardous, since the high voltage may arc across a significant air gap.
For high voltage and extra-high voltage transmission lines, specially trained personnel use "live line" techniques to allow hands-on contact with energized equipment. In this case the worker is electrically connected to the high-voltage line but thoroughly insulated from the earth so that he is at the same electrical potential as that of the line. Since training for such operations is lengthy, and still presents a danger to personnel, only very important transmission lines are subject to maintenance while live. Outside these properly engineered situations, insulation from earth does not guarantee that no current flows to earth—as grounding or arcing to ground can occur in unexpected ways, and high-frequency currents can burn even an ungrounded person. Touching a transmitting antenna is dangerous for this reason, and a high-frequency Tesla coil can sustain a spark with only one endpoint.
Protective equipment on high-voltage transmission lines normally prevents formation of an unwanted arc, or ensures that it is quenched within tens of milliseconds. Electrical apparatus that interrupts high-voltage circuits is designed to safely direct the resulting arc so that it dissipates without damage. High voltage circuit breakers often use a blast of high pressure air, a special dielectric gas (such as SF6 under pressure), or immersion in mineral oil to quench the arc when the high voltage circuit is broken.
Depending on the prospective short-circuit current available at a switchgear line-up, a hazard is presented to maintenance and operating personnel due to the possibility of a high-intensity electric arc. Maximum temperature of an arc can exceed 10,000 kelvins, and the radiant heat, expanding hot air, and explosive vaporization of metal and insulation material can cause severe injury to unprotected workers. Such switchgear line-ups and high-energy arc sources are commonly present in electric power utility substations and generating stations, industrial plants and large commercial buildings. In the United States, the National Fire Protection Association, has published a guideline standard NFPA 70E for evaluating and calculating arc flash hazard, and provides standards for the protective clothing required for electrical workers exposed to such hazards in the workplace.
Even voltages insufficient to break down air can be associated with enough energy to ignite atmospheres containing flammable gases or vapours, or suspended dust. For example, hydrogen gas, natural gas, or petrol/gasoline vapor mixed with air can be ignited by sparks produced by electrical apparatus. Examples of industrial facilities with hazardous areas are petrochemical refineries, chemical plants, grain elevators, and coal mines.
Measures taken to prevent such explosions include:
In recent years, standards for explosion hazard protection have become more uniform between European and North American practice. The "zone" system of classification is now used in modified form in U.S. National Electrical Code and in the Canadian Electrical Code. Intrinsic safety apparatus is now approved for use in North American applications.
Electrical discharges, including partial discharge and corona, can produce small quantities of toxic gases, which in a confined space can be a serious health hazard. These gases include ozone and various oxides of nitrogen.
The largest scale sparks are those produced naturally by lightning. An average bolt of negative lightning carries a current of 30 to 50 kiloamperes, transfers a charge of 5 coulombs, and dissipates 500 megajoules of energy (120 kg TNT equivalent, or enough to light a 100-watt light bulb for approximately 2 months). However, an average bolt of positive lightning (from the top of a thunderstorm) may carry a current of 300 to 500 kiloamperes, transfer a charge of up to 300 coulombs, have a potential difference up to 1 gigavolt (a billion volts), and may dissipate 300 GJ of energy (72 tons TNT, or enough energy to light a 100-watt light bulb for up to 95 years). A negative lightning strike typically lasts for only tens of microseconds, but multiple strikes are common. A positive lightning stroke is typically a single event. However, the larger peak current may flow for hundreds of milliseconds, making it considerably hotter and more dangerous than negative lightning.
Hazards due to lightning obviously include a direct strike on persons or property. However, lightning can also create dangerous voltage gradients in the earth, as well as an electromagnetic pulse, and can charge extended metal objects such as telephone cables, fences, and pipelines to dangerous voltages that can be carried many miles from the site of the strike. Although many of these objects are not normally conductive, very high voltage can cause the electrical breakdown of such insulators, causing them to act as conductors. These transferred potentials are dangerous to people, livestock, and electronic apparatus. Lightning strikes also start fires and explosions, which result in fatalities, injuries, and property damage. For example, each year in North America, thousands of forest fires are started by lightning strikes.
Measures to control lightning can mitigate the hazard; these include lightning rods, shielding wires, and bonding of electrical and structural parts of buildings to form a continuous enclosure.
High-voltage lightning discharges in the atmosphere of Jupiter are thought to be the source of the planet's powerful radio frequency emissions.
An electrical insulator is a material whose internal electric charges do not flow freely; very little electric current will flow through it under the influence of an electric field. This contrasts with other materials, semiconductors and conductors, which conduct electric current more easily. The property that distinguishes an insulator is its resistivity; insulators have higher resistivity than semiconductors or conductors.
Alternating current (AC) is an electric current which periodically reverses direction, in contrast to direct current (DC) which flows only in one direction. Alternating current is the form in which electric power is delivered to businesses and residences, and it is the form of electrical energy that consumers typically use when they plug kitchen appliances, televisions, fans and electric lamps into a wall socket. A common source of DC power is a battery cell in a flashlight. The abbreviations AC and DC are often used to mean simply alternating and direct, as when they modify current or voltage.
Direct current (DC) is the unidirectional flow of an electric charge. A battery is a prime example of DC power. Direct current may flow through a conductor such as a wire, but can also flow through semiconductors, insulators, or even through a vacuum as in electron or ion beams. The electric current flows in a constant direction, distinguishing it from alternating current (AC). A term formerly used for this type of current was galvanic current.
Static electricity is an imbalance of electric charges within or on the surface of a material. The charge remains until it is able to move away by means of an electric current or electrical discharge. Static electricity is named in contrast with current electricity, which flows through wires or other conductors and transmits energy.
A circuit breaker is an automatically operated electrical switch designed to protect an electrical circuit from damage caused by excess current from an overload or short circuit. Its basic function is to interrupt current flow after a fault is detected. Unlike a fuse, which operates once and then must be replaced, a circuit breaker can be reset to resume normal operation.
A spark gap consists of an arrangement of two conducting electrodes separated by a gap usually filled with a gas such as air, designed to allow an electric spark to pass between the conductors. When the potential difference between the conductors exceeds the breakdown voltage of the gas within the gap, a spark forms, ionizing the gas and drastically reducing its electrical resistance. An electric current then flows until the path of ionized gas is broken or the current reduces below a minimum value called the "holding current". This usually happens when the voltage drops, but in some cases occurs when the heated gas rises, stretching out and then breaking the filament of ionized gas. Usually, the action of ionizing the gas is violent and disruptive, often leading to sound, light and heat.
A substation is a part of an electrical generation, transmission, and distribution system. Substations transform voltage from high to low, or the reverse, or perform any of several other important functions. Between the generating station and consumer, electric power may flow through several substations at different voltage levels. A substation may include transformers to change voltage levels between high transmission voltages and lower distribution voltages, or at the interconnection of two different transmission voltages.
An electric arc, or arc discharge, is an electrical breakdown of a gas that produces a prolonged electrical discharge. The current through a normally nonconductive medium such as air produces a plasma; the plasma may produce visible light. An arc discharge is characterized by a lower voltage than a glow discharge and relies on thermionic emission of electrons from the electrodes supporting the arc. An archaic term is voltaic arc, as used in the phrase "voltaic arc lamp".
An overhead power line is a structure used in electric power transmission and distribution to transmit electrical energy across large distances. It consists of one or more conductors suspended by towers or poles. Since most of the insulation is provided by air, overhead power lines are generally the lowest-cost method of power transmission for large quantities of electric energy.
In an electric power system, switchgear is composed of electrical disconnect switches, fuses or circuit breakers used to control, protect and isolate electrical equipment. Switchgear is used both to de-energize equipment to allow work to be done and to clear faults downstream. This type of equipment is directly linked to the reliability of the electricity supply.
Extra-low voltage (ELV) is an electricity supply voltage in a range which carries a low risk of dangerous electrical shock. There are various standards that define extra-low voltage. The International Electrotechnical Commission member organizations and the UK IET define an ELV device or circuit as one in which the electrical potential between conductor or electrical conductor and earth (ground) does not exceed 50 V a.c. or 120 V d.c.. EU's Low Voltage Directive applies from 50 to 1,000 V a.c. and from 75 to 1,500 V d.c.
An electric spark is an abrupt electrical discharge that occurs when a sufficiently high electric field creates an ionized, electrically conductive channel through a normally-insulating medium, often air or other gases or gas mixtures. Michael Faraday described this phenomenon as "the beautiful flash of light attending the discharge of common electricity".
An arc flash is the light and heat produced as part of an arc fault, a type of electrical explosion or discharge that results from a low-impedance connection through air to ground or another voltage phase in an electrical system.
In an electric power system, a fault or fault current is any abnormal electric current. For example, a short circuit is a fault in which current bypasses the normal load. An open-circuit fault occurs if a circuit is interrupted by some failure. In three-phase systems, a fault may involve one or more phases and ground, or may occur only between phases. In a "ground fault" or "earth fault", current flows into the earth. The prospective short-circuit current of a predictable fault can be calculated for most situations. In power systems, protective devices can detect fault conditions and operate circuit breakers and other devices to limit the loss of service due to a failure.
In electrical engineering low voltage is a relative term, the definition varying by context. Different definitions are used in electric power transmission and distribution, and electrical safety codes define "low voltage" circuits that are exempt from the protection required at higher voltages. These definitions vary by country and specific codes or regulations.
In electrical engineering, earth potential rise (EPR) also called ground potential rise (GPR) occurs when a large current flows to earth through an earth grid impedance. The potential relative to a distant point on the Earth is highest at the point where current enters the ground, and declines with distance from the source. Ground potential rise is a concern in the design of electrical substations because the high potential may be a hazard to people or equipment.
A corona ring, also called an anti-corona ring, is a toroid of conductive material, usually metal, which is attached to a terminal or other irregular hardware piece of high voltage equipment. The role of the corona ring is to distribute the electric field gradient and lower its maximum values below the corona threshold, either preventing corona discharge entirely or transferring its destructive effects from the valuable hardware to the expendable ring. Corona rings are used on very high voltage power transmission insulators and switchgear, and on scientific research apparatus that generates high voltages. A very similar related device, the grading ring is used around insulators.
An electrical burn is a burn that results from electricity passing through the body causing rapid injury. Approximately 1,000 deaths per year due to electrical injuries are reported in the United States, with a mortality rate of 3-5%. Electrical burns differ from thermal or chemical burns in that they cause much more subdermal damage. They can exclusively cause surface damage, but more often tissues deeper underneath the skin have been severely damaged. As a result, electrical burns are difficult to accurately diagnose, and many people underestimate the severity of their burn. In extreme cases, electricity can cause shock to the brain, strain to the heart, and injury to other organs.
Most of the terms listed in Wikipedia glossaries are already defined and explained within Wikipedia itself. However, glossaries like this one are useful for looking up, comparing and reviewing large numbers of terms together. You can help enhance this page by adding new terms or writing definitions for existing ones.