How Anti-Static Wrist Wraps and Bands Prevent Static Shock and Prevent 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 in protecting 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 and prevents the buildup of static electricity which can result in electrostatic discharge. This is what, 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 a material causes static electricity. This charge remains in the material until it can move away as a result of an electric current or electrical discharge.
When two surfaces touch and separate, this creates an imbalance of electrical charges. When at least one of the surfaces has a high resistance to an electric current, this causes a build-up 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. For instance, this happens when you drag your feet along a carpet and then touch someone. Another form of this which we all know 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 that 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 anti-static wrist straps work
In short, an anti-static wrist strap is worn on your wrist and prevents the build-up 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 built-in resistor.
This resistor has two main purposes:
- The high resistance resistor allows any built-up static charge to leak through. It then dissipates power. This guards against a shock hazard when working with parts by preventing sudden discharges.
- More importantly, the resistor provides safety for the user. When the strap is 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 composed of either silver-suffused nylon or metal. 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.
Image courtesy of Elimstat
When used right, the anti-static wrist strap balances the voltage difference between your body and the equipment. By grounding your body, any imbalance in electric charge 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. You can also use it 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 should take the following steps:
- Wear the strap so that the inside of the strap touches your skin. The silver or metal on 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 that although any metal will do, it should be bare metal. You should also make sure that you clip the clip firmly into place.
If you follow everything mentioned above, you protect yourself against the risk of electrostatic discharge.
If you use the strap by plugging it into a wall outlet, you would follow the same procedure 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 using the strap with other anti-static devices, the results 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 a wall outlet or a metal part of the equipment.
Whenever 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 can 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 this alone with only the alligator clip, or plugged into a wall outlet. You can also use it with other anti-static devices, like mats, bags and clothing.
Regardless of the way you use it, you can be certain that, if used right, this provides excellent protection. That is the only assurance you want when it comes to your electronic equipment.