What I'm trying to ask is what voltage and current is necessary in order for it to be felt on the skin when touching an electrode? And is AC of DC better for this job?

I know it depends on the distance between the electrodes and the resistance of the skin.

To put this into perspective, I'm trying to replace vibration notifications - like the ones found in smart watches- with an electric shock. I couldn't find any information on this. Maybe someone can give me some good starting values or an amperage and voltage range and I can just experiment to find the optimum.


  • 2
    There really is no single answer to this. Its going to vary from person to person and even the same person during different humidity conditions will have varying sensitivity. – Norm Mar 21 at 21:33
  • Yeah I understand that, I'm hoping to perhaps get some average values or a range to feel a sensation – user41260 Mar 21 at 21:35
  • A lot also depends on how much contact area your electrodes cover. I think this is something you would really need to experiment with, AC would most definitely work better than DC. – Norm Mar 21 at 21:40
  • I've been told about 5 ma. – Robert Endl Mar 21 at 21:46
  • Will add the comment that AC is better at the job (i.e. less applied voltage for greater effect) due to the body having heaps of mutual capacitance, thus giving the AC much greater choice for current to flow. See "ElectroBOOM" on YouTube for some evidence of this, and also some good information/tests for the answer you seek yourself. – DSWG Mar 21 at 22:07

enter image description here This is from JG Webster, Medical Instruementation, Wiley and Sons

The 50th percentile threshold for men is 1.09mA rms. I don't know the frequency, but it is frequency dependent. I believe 60Hz is right around the best frequency for electrical damage, if not perception. This will also be surface area dependent, and dependent on the types of receptors being stimulated, as well as their density.

8 volts and 3 milliamps you will feel. Higher values become dangerous.

  • 1
    Can you cite a reference? – mike65535 Oct 11 at 14:55
  • This answer is a bit too short and lacking explanation for stackexchange. It seems too much like hearsay. – Bort Oct 11 at 17:37
  • This is flat out wrong! UL standards for exposed live wires limit the voltage to 36 VAC or 48 VDC, the point at where "tingling" starts to become mild pain. Double the voltage and the damage to skin quadruples. – Sparky256 Oct 12 at 5:33

You can try up to 60V, if you go any further it becomes lethal, and since voltage is proportional to current by Ohm's law (V=IR), you'll get current with increasing voltage and feel it through your skin, also A.C. is better. You shouldn't try this to be honest. Work only with very small values.

  • AC is lethal far before 60V! – Oldfart Mar 22 at 5:04
  • True, but she's using 5mA. It's both current and voltage that are lethal, not just one. – Ouma Shu Ookami Yashiro Mar 22 at 9:23
  • OP is not passing current across the body, but rather across a short portion of the skin at the wrist. This is not going to be lethal, only potentially painful. – Norm Mar 22 at 13:00

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