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About Christopher.

Dirty Electricity
Clean electrical signal
Same signal but
contaminated with
dirty electricity

    When I first learned about the term ‘dirty electricity’ I thought it would mean something like pollution; too many cluttered devices in our everyday life. But looking closer I learned that it is about the quality of the electricity around us. I decided to write this article to help share and explain what I have learned.


    Within your home are numerous electronic devices for countless purposes. These devices often run from the power provided to wall sockets that are supplied by the powerline grid.

     Firstly, it is important to know that some items make full use of the 120 volts that come out of the wall socket (like incandescent lightbulbs). But a lot of electronics operate at much lower voltages and have to use a transformer to take the 120 volts and step it down to 5, 12, etc. Plus the power needs to be converted from a Alternating Current (AC) to Direct Current (DC).

     And if that weren’t enough, some transformers are designed to do the opposite and step up the voltage to very high levels (15,000 volts) in order to operate neon sign tubes and fluorescent lamps. This includes those very popular compact fluorescent lights (CFL) that everybody has been told is the “Green” thing to do if you care about the planet. It is true that CFL’s use less energy to operate but they also contain mercury vapor inside the tubing and if you should break one, you are advised to contact a hazardous materials clean up crew in order to properly keep yourself, your family, and the planet safe).

    Something important to remember is that whenever the full 120 volts from the wall is being altered with a transformer, it can often be producing a little known side effect known as “harmonics”, “voltage spikes”, or “Dirty Electricity”. Dirty Electricity is electrical noise created by the transformer and sends it back out onto the power lines. This noise travels through all the wiring in your home or business and even out into the world. You can just imagine how a large city, with lots of people, with massive amounts of electronics are just brewing up this chaotic noise. People are just swimming in this noise in the powerlines! Even if you were to unplug all the devices in your home and sit on the couch in the dark you probably are still surrounded by this dirty electricity because of your neighbors.


    We can even see this noise by using what electricians and scientists know as a oscilloscope. This is a device that shows a visual display of the fluxuating power cycle (wall voltage cycles at 60 times a second (60Hz)).

These spikes are
often referred to as
microsurges or

Q: How does dirty electricty affect me?


A: Capacitive Coupling:

    This may be a strange sounding term but what it means is that your body is linked to the surrounding fields in your home, office, devices even if you are at a distance from them. When you are outside and you think that you are safe under powerlines, they give off electromagnetic fields because of the flow of electricity (current) through them. Remember when you were young and built an electromagnet with a nail, wire, and battery? The current in the wire built up a magnetic field that was transferred to the nail. The powerlines above you are doing the same thing (although not coiled) but are making a magnetic field that reverses its polarity back and forth. It does this cycle 60 times a second.

    Whenever you have a fluxuating electromagnetic field near a conductor it causes electrical energy to be generated. This is basically how power generators work. It is a “induced voltage” within the human body since it is a good conductor of electricity. You can test your body’s conductivity by borrowing a digital multimeter and setting it to read high resistance Ohms. Pinching a probe in each hand will show that power can travel through your body!

 These fields don’t kill you quickly and you probably have been living near them for many years, but growing research is showing that dirty (and even clean)electricity is having an effect on human health. Hormone glands of the brain and studies towards Multiple Sclerosis and Autism are being done. Many believe that power lines and wireless technology are cause for many problems such as tinnitus and cancer.


    When there is dirty electricity on a power line the oscillioscope will display a scratchy line.

Common household
wall transformer
Compact fluorescent
light bulb (CFL)
Oscillioscope showing
A clean sine waveform
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