We all know that the Tesla Generator was a remarkable device produced by an equally remarkable man. But today I wish to talk about the Tesla Coil, which is an equally impressive device.
What is a Tesla Coil?
A Tesla coil is a resonant transformer invented by Nikola Tesla all the way back in 1891. It is one of Tesla’s most famous inventions. It is a ultra high frequency transformer that can take 120 volt alternating current and produce up to 1 million volts. The frequency of the current is so high that it can sometimes pass over the surface of an object rather than through it.
What can a Tesla Coil Do?
It can produce large lightning-like arcs of electrical energy that can crackle through the air. It sends energy wirelessly through the air and it can even light a bulb that is several feet away. Tesla wanted to build a huge power station based on this principle to beam electricity all around the world, but it was never completed.
What is the Theory behind the Coil?
The coil is completely different from a regular transformer. Regular transformers use tightly coupled windings to step up the voltage. But at high voltages a lot of energy leaks between coils. To combat this, Tesla coils utilize loosely coupled windings with a large air gap. This reduces the energy leaks.
How Are Tesla Coils Used?
Most of the time coils are used for education or entertainment. They can be used to teach the principles of electricity. They can also be used to entertain people in museums or in science exhibitions. They produce large crowd-pleasing electrical discharges.
Are They Dangerous?
In a word: Yes. Anytime large quantities of electricity are involved, there is risk. However in the hands of a capable trained technician, who takes reasonable precautions, they are safe. Avoid touching the discharge of coils, because they can cause tissue damage. Their frequency is so high that you may not feel a shock, but the electricity may still harm your nerves or cells.