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Tesla Coil Safety

  1. Feb 15, 2012 #1
    On several occasions, I've seen the demonstration where a person holds a fluorescent light bulb up to a tesla coil, and it illuminates. And in general, demonstrators don't seem too worried by the sparks generated. But I was looking at this page,


    and was surprised to see the following:

    Which frankly makes me scared to go near one, and makes me wonder if these people even know what they're doing.

    So, question: Is it possible to design tesla coils that do not have this problem, or to perform the above "tricks" safely, or do I need to tackle the next guy who tries to do that trick in order to save his life?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 15, 2012 #2


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    You shouldn't have to "wonder" if everybody who plays with tesla coils knows what they are doing, unless you are a very trusting or gullible person.

    And you personally don't "need" to tackle every fool you meet to teach them the error of their ways, unless you are planning a career as a saint.

    Is it possible to design tesla coils that are safe? Sure. Just get some proper education and training in high voltage electrial engineering first, so you do understand what you are doing. But most people don't think that is as much "fun" as just horsing around.
  4. Feb 16, 2012 #3
    Well, I wasn't referring to just anybody horsing around. I was mostly surprised because one of the people I've seen do this was someone I would really expect to know what he was doing I'd ask him but I don't know him personally, I just see him around sometimes. Maybe he just had a properly designed coil. It is possible then, to design a coil that doesn't have the specific problem above? I know absolutely nothing about electronics yet, so I wouldn't know. It would be kind of sad if there were no way to do those kinds of demonstrations safely.
  5. Feb 16, 2012 #4
    In general it's unsafe. It's not a function of the coils design but of the site.

    Think of the streamers as wires made of foil and the coil as a big fan that blows them around. Would this be safe under a power line? No. Would it be safe in a room with metal walls and no electrical service? Yes.

    The coil makes threads of plasma that can connect you to a live power line even if you run the coil on a big battery. It's just not safe unless you are encased head to toe in a medevil suit of chain mail that's grounded.
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