How Anti-Static Wrist Wraps and Bands Prevent Static Shock and Damages
Did you know that it takes a mere 25 volts to damage an electric circuit? Electronic components are sensitive to electrostatic discharge. Even a small charge can cause damage to an electric circuit component.
In contrast, walking across a vinyl floor can generate up to 12,000 volts of energy. In the event of electrostatic discharge, that amount of voltage will destroy an electronic component. An anti-static wrist strap or band can go a long way to protect your electronic equipment.
So, how do anti-static wrist straps or bands prevent static shock and prevent damages? anti-static straps ground a person working on very sensitive electronic equipment. This leads to the dissipation of excess static electricity. This prevents the buildup of static electricity which can result in electrostatic discharge, which, to a large extent, prevents damage to the electronic components.
This article will delve into further aspects relating to this question. These include:
- Why anti-static wrist straps prevent damage
- How anti-static wrist straps work
- How to use anti-static wrist straps
Why anti-static wrist straps prevent damage?
Why should you wear a strap to get rid of excess static electricity? To answer this question, we should look at what static electricity is.
An imbalance of electrical charges within or on the surface of material causes static electricity. This charge remains in the material until it can move away as a result of electric current or electrical discharge.
When two surfaces touch and separate, it creates an imbalance of electrical charges. When at least one of the surfaces has a high resistance to electric current, this causes a buildup of electrical charge in the other object.
The effects of static electricity are familiar to most of us because we can feel, hear, and even see the spark as the excess charge is neutralized. This happens when, for instance, you drag your feet along a carpet and touch someone with your finger. Another form of this which we all know of is lightning.
The neutralization of the charge causes the familiar phenomenon of a static shock or an electrostatic discharge. A quick neutralization of the imbalance results in sudden electronic discharge.
Electronic circuitry like those found in computers is sensitive to these electric shocks.
The mere act of walking across a vinyl floor can generate up to 12,000 volts of electricity. If discharged, this charge can destroy the sensitive transistors in integrated circuits.
How do anti-static wrist straps work?
In short, an anti-static wrist strap is worn on your wrist and prevents the buildup of static electricity. You usually wear the strap on your non-dominant hand. The strap connects to the ground through a coiled retractable cable and a builtin resistor.
The resistor has two main purposes:
- The high resistance resistor allows any built-up static charge to leak through. This dissipates power and guards against a shock hazard when working with parts by preventing sudden discharges.
- More importantly, the resistor provides safety for the user. With the strap being around a user’s wrist, it presents a risk for shock. In the event of a wrong connection to a high voltage, the resistor prevents electrical shock.
The strap itself is usually made of nylon. The inside of the strap is either silver-suffused nylon or metal banded. This ensures that the strap can capture a static charge from your skin. Keep in mind that you may wear the strap on any part of your body, not just your wrist.
When used properly, the anti-static wrist strap balances the voltage difference between your body and the equipment. By grounding your body, any imbalance in electric charges in your body will be equalized. This, in turn, prevents an electronic discharge.
How to use an anti-static wrist strap
How you use the anti-static wrist depends on a few factors. You can use it with an alligator clip or by plugging it into a wall outlet. Then you can also use it in conjunction with other anti-static devices.
If you choose to use it with the alligator clip, you will take the following steps:
- Wear the strap so that the inside of the strap touches your skin. The silver or metal in the inside of the strap has to make contact with your skin to absorb any static charge. Keep in mind here that you can wear the strap on any part of your body.
- Power off the equipment and unplug the power cord from the outlet. This reduces the risk of electric shock and ensures your safety while working on the equipment.
- Clip the alligator clip on to a metal part of the equipment you’re working on. This grounds you and facilitates the dissipation of the static electricity. It is important to remember here that, although any metal will do, bare metal is best. You should also make sure that you clip the clip firmly into place.
If you do everything properly, you protect yourself from the risk of electrostatic discharge.
Moreover, if you use the strap by plugging it into a wall outlet, you would follow the same procedure as above. The difference will be that, instead of clipping the clip to the equipment, you would plug it into the wall outlet. The effect stays the same.
If you’re using the strap with other anti-static devices, the result will stay the same. In other words, you would still be grounded. For example, when used with an anti-static mat, you attach the strap to the mat. You then attach the mat to either the wall outlet or a metal part of the equipment.
Any time you work with computers or other electronic equipment, it’s a good idea to protect yourself and the equipment from electrostatic discharge. It can prevent unnecessary damage and save you money.
One of the ways you could do this is to use an anti-static wrist strap or band. This is an affordable and effective way to guard against electrostatic discharge.
You can use it alone with only the alligator clip, or you can use it plugged into a wall outlet. You can also use it with other anti-static devices, like mats, bags, and clothing.
Irrespective of the way you use it, you can be certain that, if used right, it provides excellent protection. That is the only assurance you want when it comes to your electronic equipment.