Power line tingle

My fiance lives near some main power lines,the kind on the really tall poles and with 3 lines each,and we’ve both noticed that if you rub each others skin you feel a weird vibrating sort of tingle. It also works if you rub your car,on the metal,plastic or rubber,ans it doesn’t work if you rub yourself,only something else. Does anyone know what causes this? Don’t think we have a habit of rubbing things under power lines though… :slight_smile:

If it feels the same as what you feel when you rub something metal that has a significant 60-Hz electric potential wrt to you through a high impedance, as derived from a house-current supply (i.e., it doesn’t produce a shock, but rather, a sort of rough feeling with motion across the metal) – apparently (at least in moist air) the high-tension lines do break the air down enough with corona discharge to cause such a significant voltage and limited current similar to 60-Hz house current. I have often felt such effect from house current, but not from simply being near a high-tension power transmission line.

Ray (ex-EE, but no expert in this aspect)

It’s caused by your imagination.

      • I agree, I think it’s imaginary. I have been around a 400Kv Van De Graff generator and the only thing I noticed was that within a few feet, my body hair (and to a much lesser extent, head hair) would try to stand up on end. Here a few feet = 4 or maybe 6 feet; certainly not 50 or 60, which is how high 440Kv lines are usually placed.
      • I think it might be the girl. If the feeling begins to bother you, you can always take a cross-country car trip with her, or stay with her parents for a month. - MC
      • Ooops! So sorry, I dunno if Bee is M or F. Which doesn’t mean the fiance still can’t be F (these days, anyway) but I meant no offense. Which leads to my next question. . . - ('nother post) - MC

Thanks for the posts,but it’s definitely not imaginary. This only works directly under the power lines and disappears gradually as you move away. Maybe I’ll get an unsuspecting person to rub and see if they notice it without my telling them… no,wait,I’m not into rubbing unsuspecting people. By the way,I’m male… Bee is the dorky nickname my F gave me and was all I could think of as a Username. Sorry.

As was recently discussed in another thread, power lines have an associated magnetic field which can transmit energy. You really are picking up a small electric charge from the power lines.

If I knew how to reference another thread I’d include the URL here, but there was a lengthy discussion by an EE type who talked in some detail (e.g. Poynting vectors) about how it happens.

“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”
– William of Ockham

Well, how could it be a consequence of a magnetic field. There’s nothing there that would magnetically couple to it, particularly in the case he mentions involving plastic. I’d say: If it’s real, it’s the result of an electric field, not a magnetic one. The presss has fanned up all that stuff about 60-Hz magnetic fields, but you can’t feel those weak things (and nobody’s proved they cause any physiological problem). Bee, does what your feel depend on the humidity or on fog droplets being in the air? I’ve walked near power transmission lines when it’s foggy and there’s a lot of corona discharge, but I was alone and didn’t anything. I know of one place in Niles Canyon, CA-US where, if you’re on a horse on a fire road, your head is only about 5 ft. from the lower lines (the ones on tall X’d metal towers, 440 kV, I think). I don’t think this distance is within spec, but I wasn’t on a horse.

Here is an abstract of something related but somewhat more specialized. I don’t really understand it:


Ray (not a good conductor)

There are both electric and magnetic fields surrounding power lines. The electric field lines are parellel to the flow, and the magnetic field lines circle around the wires.

Side note: Did you know special relativity treats these fields as the same thing. Just like there are transforms for time and distance scales, there are transforms for E and B fields. End side note.

My best guess is that when you touch someone, you form a circuit. Ground - you - her - ground. Flow could happen, because one of you could be at a higher potential than the other.

An interesting experiment would be to see if the effect is stronger if you line up parellel or perpendicular to the power lines.

I’m going to go figure out how much potential difference, (voltage) a 440kV line, 50 feet distant, will cause in two people seperated about 6 feet along the direction of the transmission.

      • If you can find a long thin piece of iron, leave it outside under the lines at night, for a couple hours. It should warm up slightly (a degree or three) in the “tingle zone”, and stay the same temperature as the air when placed anywhere else. (-You may have to try orienting it both parallel and perpendicular-) I dunno any common household item that would work though, and other metals won’t do it. - MC

I would think you would get heating from eddy currents in other metals, but I don’t know how much.

Ray (May the power be with you. It only hertz for a little while.)

I mentioned plastic and I can feel it on it too. I have a '97 Firebird and the doors and other parts are made of that composite material,and you can feel it on the doors and rubber seal around it,as well as the metal rear quarter panels but not on the glass. I can try putting a metal rod there and see what happens,like a piece of re-bar or something. If anyone lives near Wilmington N.C.,I can show you in person. Thanks for all the posts!

You get a tingle when you rub your girl or your car but not when you rub yourself. I am not psychologist or anything but it sounds like you are displacing or redirecting or something.

Do you feel the tingle when she rubs you? This could be important you know. Does she tingle when she rubs herself or only when she rubs you or you rub her?

If you actually answer these questions me may know more about you than we need to, but it is in the interest of science.


MC posted 09-25-1999 07:34 AM

Main Entry: fi·an·cé

Pronunciation: "fE-“än-'sA, fE-'än-”
: a man engaged to be married

Perhaps Bee meant to say "fiancee"?

" ‘Ideas on Earth were badges of friendship or enmity. Their content did not matter.’ " -Kurt Vonnegut, * Breakfast of Champions *

Some people can hear the Taos hum, too.

It was rainy today and it didn’t happen,so it could be static and is felt in dry air,like a clothes dryer…? I’ll see what happens later. Am I rubbing people the wrong way? :slight_smile:
I wrote the post about “Power Line Tingle” and not on how to spell “Fiance”,(which IS correct),so if you wish to discuss this as a topic further,please start a new thread.