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Are ESCs Dangerous?

#1
Hello Everyone,

Humor my electronics ignorance, but I have been wondering about this for a while now. I've read (and heard) that 'Volts hurt, Amps kill.' If you have a low enough amperage, you can have volts to arcing all over the place without any real danger. I've read that anything above 100 mA can be lethal. Does that mean that a 12 A (12000 mA) ESC can kill me? I understand there are very few situations in which your ESC would be pulling 12 A and your hands would be nearby, but hypothetically speaking...

I have a power supply (IMAX B6) that has a minimum amp setting as .1 A (100 mA). Is this something I should be extra careful with?

Thanks for the feedback - I'm looking forward to being educated!
 

Hai-Lee

Old and Bold RC PILOT
#2
You are correct in that the Amps or current that does the damage and it is the voltage that causes the current to flow.

It is true that you can be killed by a few milliamps BUT that current flow must occur within you body along certain nerve pathways and connections. That is a situation that is so difficult to engineer with low voltage that it is virtually impossible unless you dissect yourself first.

To inflict lethal damage to yourself from an external voltage source you would require such a high voltage source and for it to be applied such that the current travels deeply through you rather than along the surface, (under the skin). This is why some persons can be struck by lightning and survive and others get killed by touching the standard domestic electrical supply.

As for ESCs being dangerous, well they could start a fire or force a battery into melt down. They could also fail in flight and the OOC aircraft or multicopter could slam into you at high speed and injure or kill you but seriously you are in more danger of being hit by lightning.

There is no direct threat to your life from an ESC!

Little to fear but the flying aircraft itself!

Have fun!
 

ElectriSean

Eternal Student
Mentor
#4
Hai-Lee is pretty much spot on, I just want to expand a little. I've always hated the expression that it's amps that kill, not volts. Your body has a certain resistance, which is generally pretty high, and different paths through your body can be higher or lower. For current to flow through a resistance, you need voltage. The amount of current that flows is directly proportionate to the voltage (ohms law). The voltages we deal with (30V and less is technically extra low voltage) is not sufficient to overcome our bodies natural resistance enough to even be felt unless it's a short, damp path (touch a 9V alkaline battery to your tongue, you'll feel it). Above 30V is where the hazards start coming into play, though the shock hazard from less than 60V or so is fairly low. 120/240 residential stuff can definitely kill you, depending on the path it takes. Current wants to flow to ground, and it will always take the path of least resistance. Going in and out of your finger might burn your finger, but going in your finger and out your foot will pass through several major organs and you're in trouble, more trouble the longer the current flows.

Sorry if this is a bit ranty, but electrical safety is deeply ingrained in my thought process :)
 

Balu

Moderator
Staff member
Admin
Moderator
#7
Long time supporter of his channel :) I just love how he keeps hurting himself for us to learn something ;).

Also in this video - nothing wrong with the gages on his power supply, just video editing (the 1 doesn't move correctly when he hits the supply ;)) to prove his point.
 
#8
Ahh... I see. So you're saying that, yes, 12 amps can kill a person, but 11.1 volts isn't enough to get that power though your skin? So basically, I can work with a few amps as long as my voltage is below 15ish volts and I'm not licking the electrodes or soaked in saltwater?

Thank you everyone for your insight! Ya learn something new every day!