Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This question already has an answer here:

I've heard people say that high amperage or high voltage is dangerous to humans-aren't they both? And what are the advantages to high amperage versus high voltage? And how do you generate one or the other? They are related via Ohm's Law, so I always run into problems trying to think of how to generate one, because I feel like it comes at the cost of the other.

For a simple example, if you have two batteries-you can either put them in series or parallel, parallel gives a lot of current, but the same voltage while series would give a higher voltage? Why would you want a higher voltage? Also, power is proportional to current squared-so putting batteries in parallel drains them faster?

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by Waffle's Crazy Peanut, Emilio Pisanty, Chris White, Alan Rominger, Brandon Enright May 31 '13 at 2:01

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
The first question is definitely a duplicate. Then there are at least 5 other questions, and they should probably be split up. We encourage one concept per question, in order for questions to be focused. –  Chris White May 23 '13 at 1:58

1 Answer 1

You are probably asking the question because you haven't gotten to alternating currents yet. One typical and simple example I can think of is the AC-DC War, AC won because it uses very high voltage and very low amperage to transmit electricity, this leads to very low power loss, compared to DC transmission. Although I have heard extremely high DC transmission lines are more efficient, but I haven't looked into it.

From what I understand (And I could be wrong) both amperage and voltage can be hazardous, but it depends. Another factor to take into account is, at very high frequencies, high voltages have no effect on humans because there is no time for the current to sink under your skin and reach your heart. So a tesla coil will transmit intesely high voltages but are not harmful to human beings at all (Picture of the kid touching the ball with rising hair comes to mind).

Voltage is needed for transmission of the current, amperage is generally what will do the damage though. Human beings have a resistance of 10,000 Ohms, at 120V this equates to 12mA. You would need about 25-30mA to cause shock to your heart. At higher voltages I would assume it becomes more and more dangerous as the amperage through your body increases.

But just so you know I am only a second year undergraduate physics major, so hopefully this answer holds you over until someone smarter can answer you correctly.

Also, you can go to this site: http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulations/category/physics

If you look for the circuit construction kit, you can use the applet to find out how circuits work.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.