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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to some common questions about electricity and Tesla Coil operation.

Safety Information:
When proper precautions are taken, Tesla Coil demonstrations are both spectacular and safe to perform. Tesla Coils are potentially dangerous devices, so it is imperative that all Tesla Coil operators be knowledgeable about Tesla Coils and high-voltage electrical safety. The demonstrations illustrated on this site were performed by knowledgeable professionals, and should not be attempted by others. We provide general safety information and a safety checklist with all of our products to help ensure that they are used in a safe manner.

Are Tesla Coil arcs visible during the day?
Tesla Coil shows must be done under low lighting conditions such as indoors under dim lighting or outdoors at night in order to be most impressive. Tesla Coil arcs are nearly invisible in direct sunlight.

Do weather conditions affect the length of arcs from Tesla Coils?
Yes, in particular, Tesla Coils generally do not perform as well in windy environments.

How are the sparks from a Tesla Coil different from sparks caused by static electricity generators or lightning?
Static electricity generators and thunderstorm clouds cause large amounts of electric charge to build up in one area, and an opposite charge to build up in another area. If the voltage rises sufficiently high, a spark will jump between these two areas. The spark will generally last only a fraction of a second. In contrast, the output from a Tesla Coil actually oscillates between a positive and negative voltage very rapidly (usually hundreds of thousands of times per second). More precisely, the output from most Tesla Coils is actually off the majority of the time, with several hundred short periods per second where the electricity is oscillating as described in the previous sentence. Because of the large number of pulses each second, the arcs from Tesla Coils usually appear to continuously flow out from the device.

How do you measure the maximum length of an arc from a Tesla Coil?
Different people measure them in very different ways. One way is to operate the Tesla Coil in an open area and see how far a grounded object can be placed away from the top terminal of the Tesla Coil and still be occasionally struck by arcs. This is how we measure arc lengths of our Tesla Coil systems. Another method is to estimate the additional distance traveled through the air based on the curvature of the arc, and add this amount to the point-to-point distance described above. These two methods can give significantly different results.

What do voltage and amperage mean?
Voltage is a measurement of how strongly electrons want to jump from one place to another. Amperage (current) is a measurement of how many electrons flow past a given point in a given amount of time.

What is frequency (when referring to electricity) a measurement of?
DC (Direct current) has a frequency of 0Hz. An example of something that supplies DC is a battery. This means that one end of the battery always carries a positive charge (lack of electrons), while the other end always carries a negative charge (surplus of electrons). The electricity supplied by standard electrical outlets in the USA is 60Hz AC (alternating current). This means that one wire is alternately positively and then negatively charged relative to the other wire, and that the process repeats itself 60 times per second (60Hz).

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