Would magnetism affect the likelihood of an electrical arc occurring?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry, I didn't know how to phrase this question correctly because I don't know much about electrical engineering, but I'm basically wondering if magnetism can effect electrical jumps (that can cause short circuits). \$\endgroup\$
    – user49657
    Commented Jan 2, 2016 at 23:24

1 Answer 1


Yes, magnetism can and does affect arcs. Some large switches have permanent magnets to reduce arcing. This technique is more popular on DC, where arcing is generally worse. The magnetic field bends the arc, increasing its length, which makes it go out faster.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ The magnetic field deflects the current electrons, which increases arc length and causes the arc to quench at lower voltage. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 2:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ The term for this is a "magnetic blowout", by the way -- it is commonly found in circuit breakers, due to the severe arcs they must handle when operating at their interrupting current rating. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 6:36

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