Is DC Current Safer Than AC
We all know that electricity is dangerous, but what we’re less sure of is how dangerous specific currents are. The two main types of current flow found in an electrical circuit are alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC). Both of these currents work very differently to the other and, as such, they vary in how dangerous they are.
Understanding AC & DC Current
In order to determine whether DC is dangerous, we first need to understand what AC and DC are:
- AC: the flow of current in AC, as the name suggests, alternates its direction multiple times in a single second. This form of current is typically found in electrical power supplied to homes and businesses to power electrical appliances e.g. lamps, computers and kitchen equipment.
- DC: the main difference with DC is that the flow of current is one-directional. DC is most commonly found in batteries, large power supplies and in the transmission of power between power grids.
Which is more dangerous DC or AC?
Both AC and DC currents are dangerous, but AC is significantly more dangerous. The frequency of cycle changes in AC (up to 60 per second) are the main reason behind this enhanced danger. Muscular contractions are more common with AC, and it also stimulates more sweating, a process which has the effect of lowering the skin’s resistance and making it more susceptible to electrical damage.
How Dangerous is DC Current?
If you compare AC to DC, then studies indicate that AC is around five times more dangerous. The human body is naturally more resistant to DC than AC and it has been proven that letting go – therefore escaping the impact of electrical shock – of live parts in a DC circuit is easier. Nonetheless, the risk of electrical shock remains and can lead to local burns and even disrupt the electrical signals in your heart.
How Can You Work Safely with Electricity?
Regardless of the current you’re working with, it’s crucial that you work safely with electricity. The best ways to achieve this is by practicing the following:
- Use insulated rubber gloves and tools: one of the simplest ways to minimise injuries from electrical shock is to wear insulated rubber gloves when working with electrical circuits. This adherence to insulated equipment should also be applied to any tools you are working with.
- Discard damaged equipment: damaged electrical plugs and power cords represent a real risk to your safety. Therefore, any damaged electrical equipment such as this should be safely disconnected from electrical supplies and discarded.
- Minimise contact with water: if you get water on your hands, then the conductivity of electrical current will rise due to the reduced electrical resistance of your skin. Accordingly, you should always remove liquids from the vicinity of any electrical equipment.
- Never work on energised equipment: one of the most dangerous things you can do is to work on electrical equipment with a live power supply. Instead, make sure that all equipment is fully de-energised by disconnecting it before attempting to work on it.