Electronic – not dead after repeatedly touching a high-voltage source

current measurementhigh voltageresistanceshock

While playing with mosquito racket in my home, I unscrewed the racket and touched the 2 wires with my hands. I felt that my bones were dislocated, I got shocked, but I am not dead.

My calculations say that I should die:

the output voltage is 5 kV to 10 kV, my body resistance is approx. 50 kΩ, the current through my body is 0.1 A if 5 kV to 0.2 A if 10 kV.

According to the table at https://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~p616/safety/fatal_current.html I should die; I tried this many times but I am still alive.

I think my interpretation regarding current, voltage and my body resistance is wrong (if right I would be dead by now) – please tell me why I am not dead?

Best Answer

The circuit is not quite as you have described. As stated in the comments (amongst the sea of humor), is that a bug zapper is not an ideal voltage source. It can't deliver very much power, even though the voltage is high.

You can consider the circuit more like this:


simulate this circuit – Schematic created using CircuitLab

(values are guestimates).

The net result is you will get an initial current spike of maybe a few 10's of milliamps, but only for a few microseconds. After that the bug zapper simply cannot sustain the current, and so the terminal voltage will drop, and the current will most likely end up being less than a milliamp.

It's not the peak current that kills you, but a current sustained long enough to deliver enough energy to kill you.

As to why it kills the bugs, that is simply a case of bugs being smaller than you. It will take far less energy to cook a small bug than it will to stop a human heart.