Low Voltage vs High Voltage: What’s the Difference?
In this article, we’ll be discussing the differences between low voltage and high voltage. Understanding the distinctions between these two types of electrical systems is crucial for anyone working with or around electricity, so whether you’re a professional electrician or just someone curious, keep reading to find out more!
Differences Between Low Voltage and High Voltage
The followings are the differences between low and high voltage.
According to ANSI C84.1-1989 and IEE 141-1993 standards, voltages, 600 V and below are referred to as low voltage. According to IEC 60038 voltages, 1000 VAC, and below are referred to as low voltage.
Note: The 2014 National Electrical Code has ushered in a change to the definition of low voltage. The NEC elevated the maximum voltage threshold for this category from 600 V maximum to 1000 V maximum. This was done to accommodate the growing solar market where voltages up to 1000 V are becoming more commonplace.
According to ANSI C84.1-1989 and IEE 141-1993 standards, voltages from 600 V-69 kV are referred to as medium voltage.
According to ANSI C84.1-1989 and IEE 141-1993 standards, voltages from 69 kV-230 kV are referred to as “high voltage” and voltages 230 kV-1,100 kV are referred to as “extra-high-voltage,” with 1,100 kV also referred to as “ultra-high voltage.” According to IEC 60038 voltages above 1000 VAC are referred to as “high voltage,”
2. Usage areas
Low voltage can be used in most domestic, commercial, and industrial applications. Plugs, sockets, lighting, heating, and home appliances can be supplied with low voltage in domestic applications. The typical home has wiring in the 100 to 240 VAC standard. Commercial examples of low voltage are fire alarms, sound systems, security systems, control, and communication systems.
The high voltage range is where you will find overhead distribution networks or specialized industrial applications. It is also used in cathode ray tubes, to generate X-rays and particle beams, to produce electrical arcs. (Landmark chemistry and particle physics experiments and discoveries.)
Electricity is transmitted with high voltage. The reason for transmitting with high voltage is to increase efficiency. Entry to the high-voltage area will be strictly restricted and controlled. Using transformers high voltage can be reduced to low voltage for home usage.
4. Danger and arc generation
High voltage is more dangerous than low voltage because it carries a higher degree of voltage. High voltage is classified as having the potential to cause injury or harm. The high voltage generates more electrical arc in a possible arc fault and it is extremely dangerous for the people and the systems. High-voltage electrical discharges can produce small quantities of toxic gases, which can be a health hazard.
Remember: Low voltage is also dangerous for everybody. It is only called low voltage because it is a lower voltage compared to high voltage. But low voltage is easy to control compared to high voltage.
5. Cables and equipment
The diameters of high-voltage cables are bigger than low voltage cables. Besides, high voltage equipment such as motors, breakers, and isolators is much bigger in size compared to low voltage equipment. High-voltage equipment should be isolated carefully.
The cost of high-voltage equipment and switchgear is more expensive than low-voltage equipment and switchgear.
7. Voltage ranges according to ANSI C84.1-1989 and IEE 141-1993 standard
8. Voltage ranges according to IEC 60038 standard
Standard IEC 60038 defines a set of “standard” voltages to be used for creating AC and DC power and it refers to two voltage ranges: LV and HV.
In conclusion, understanding the differences between low voltage and high voltage is essential for anyone working with or around electricity. While low voltage is typically used in domestic, commercial, and industrial applications, high voltage is used in specialized industrial applications and overhead distribution networks. Electricity is transmitted with high voltage to increase efficiency but it also poses a greater danger as it carries a higher degree of voltage and generates more electrical arcs in a possible arc fault. High-voltage equipment is bigger and more expensive than low-voltage equipment and the voltage ranges for each category varies based on different standards. It’s crucial to always exercise caution when working with any voltage, whether it’s low or high.
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