What’s the Difference Between Low Voltage vs. High Voltage?

When it comes to electricity, there are two main types: low voltage and high voltage. What’s the difference between these two types of electricity? How can it affect you and your home?

The main difference between low voltage and high voltage is the amount of electricity flowing through the wires. High voltage is able to deliver a large amount of power and can do this over long distances. Low voltage can only deliver a small amount of electricity and can’t travel as far as high voltage without losing its strength.

Brief Introduction to Low Voltage Electricity

In homes, the power used to run appliances and lighting uses low voltage. Low voltage electricity flows through a wire as a direct current, or DC for short. Direct current means that it’s constantly flowing in one direction, unlike an alternating current where the flow of the electricity changes from the negative to the positive half of a cycle. Because this electricity can only flow in one direction, it does not create an electromagnetic field surrounding the wire.

low voltage sign

How low voltage electricity is created in a home is different from how it’s generated in a power plant. In a power plant, the high voltage electricity that flows through the wires outside your house comes from turbines that are spun by steam. The turbines spin magnets inside wire coils, which creates direct current electricity.

In your home, batteries create the electricity that the appliances use. The positive end of the battery pushes electrons out while the negative end attracts them in. This creates low-voltage electricity that is stored in your home until it’s needed to be used by something like a lamp, clock, or fan.

Examples of low voltage items in your home would include:

  • Smoke detectors
  • Flashlights
  • Remote controls
  • Bluetooth speakers
  • Televisions
  • Toasters
  • Cellphones and tablets
  • VCRs and DVD players
  • Blender
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Coffeepot

If you live in an older house with wiring, there is a chance that this electricity is low voltage, also called “two-wire.” This type of wiring is able to only handle less electricity without overheating. Over time, a two-wire electrical system can become a fire hazard, and you may need to have your home rewired with modern three-wire systems to fix this problem.

Brief Introduction to High Voltage Electricity

high voltage sign

High voltage electricity is created in a very different way than low voltage electricity. Instead of using batteries, high voltage electricity uses generators that rotate quickly to create electricity.

These generators are most often powered by steam or gas, and they produce alternating current electricity that is very high voltage. This means that the electricity flowing through the wires in your home can be dangerous if it’s not handled correctly. The high voltage electricity flows through power lines before it reaches your home.

High voltage electricity is very different than low voltage because of its alternating current. Instead of flowing one way like a direct current, the electrons in an alternating current move back and forth like a wave. This means that an alternating current can create electromagnetic fields around itself because the flow of electrons is changing all the time.

Types of High Voltage Electricity

There are two main types of high voltage electricity: arc flash and line voltage. Arc flash is high voltage electricity with a very low amperage or amount of energy per second. A common example of arc flash would be the electricity that comes out of the outlets on your wall at home.

Line voltage is high voltage electricity with a medium to high amperage level. Common examples of line voltage would be the power that comes from a power plant or substation.

Why Understanding the Difference Between Low Voltage and High Voltage Matters

During any home renovation, reconstruction, or wiring project, it’s important to know if the electricity in your home is low or high voltage. If you don’t know this information, then you could be working with dangerous levels of electricity that can injure or kill you.

With that being said, it’s very important to work with a licensed electrician who knows all about the difference between low voltage and high voltage electricity. These professionals know how to work with this type of electricity safely and skillfully.

Safety Precautions When Handling Electricity

Whether low or high voltage, all electricity should be treated with care. Wires should never be exposed when working on a home or office project because they could come in contact with water or sawdust that would create a dangerous spark.

In addition, it’s important to always turn off the electricity before starting any wiring project. This means turning off the breaker switch at your fuse box or shutting off the circuit.

Be sure to always wear rubber-soled shoes when working with electricity because a metal tool could create a path between you and the live wires, causing you to get shocked. In addition, never work on wood floors without covering them because water from sawdust or spilled paint can create sparks that can be deadly. It’s also important to never touch a person shocked by electricity because the voltage can be passed from one person to another.

When in doubt, always call your local electrician to handle any project that has to do with electricity. This will ensure that everyone involved in the project stays safe and all home or office wiring needs are handled appropriately.

In Summary

Both low and high-voltage electricity are found in our homes. They work in two very different ways and can both be deadly if not handled correctly. Low voltage appliances like toasters and coffee makers use electricity that comes from your wall outlets at home. The low voltage electricity flows in one direction because of its direct current, which means there is little risk of electric shock.

High voltage appliances, on the other hand, like power tools and ovens, use the electricity that comes out of a generator or power plant. High voltage electricity is dangerous because it can create an electric field around it. This means that if the electricity comes in contact with water or any type of conductor, you could be shocked.

Their differences lie in the fact that high voltage electricity always changes direction while low voltage electricity flows in one direction. If you’re unsure about what you’re doing, always remember that it’s best left to the professionals. These trained individuals know how to handle electricity safely and skillfully.