ElectroStatic Discharge (ESD) Person Can Feel

It typically takes a ESD discharge greater than 2,000 or 3,000 volts for a person to feel the “zap”.

There is no exact voltage number where a person starts to feel a discharge. The ESD Association addresses this topic three times in the ESD Handbook ESD TR20.20 using these phrases:

  • “greater than 2000 volts”
  • “about 3,000 volts”
  • “exceed 3,000 volts”

The sensitivity of people is different and measuring the voltage is imprecise, so neither 2,000 nor 3,000 is to be an exact number.

Per ESD Handbook ESD TR20.20 Wrist Strap section 5.3.2.1 “Static electricity is a natural phenomenon that occurs in all climates and at all levels of relative humidity year round. Most people cannot feel an electrostatic discharge unless the static voltage is greater than 2000 volts.”

Per ESD Handbook ESD TR20.20 section 2.3 Nature of Static Electricity “The quantity, charge, is difficult for most people to visualize without some reference. As an example, an average person has a capacitance of about 100 picofarads (pF) and can feel a static discharge at their fingertips when the potential difference between their body and a grounded conductive object is about 3,000 volts (3 kV).”

Per ESD Handbook ESD TR20.20 ionizer section 5.3.6.5.3.3 Discharge Time and Product Sensitivity “Most personnel will not notice static discharges from the human body until they exceed 3,000 volts.”

The point, of course, is just because you cannot see or feel an ESD event, it does mean that ESD events are not occurring. Human beings are insensitive unless the ESD is several thousand volts. Many electronic components can be damaged by much smaller discharges.

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Posted on July 30, 2012, in Article, ESD Tips, Question & Answers and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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