One of the most frequently used forms of anti-static devices is the anti-static strap or bracelet. In this guide, we will learn more about how the anti-static bracelet, also known as ESD bands, works. why it is so important for people like you and me, and which ones are best.
One of the universal activities kids everywhere in the world indulge themselves in at one time or the other is playing around with static electricity.
Remember when you would rub a balloon on your head and then make it stick to the wall? Or when you would rub your feet vigorously on the carpet and then touch the TV screen to feel a little zap? All of these little wonders and experiments are thanks to a phenomenon known as static electricity.
When various objects and surfaces rub against each other, there is a transfer of electrons which causes these surfaces to accumulate a charge- positive or negative.
The discharge of such an accumulation is what causes you to experience that little shock of electricity. But while it may be mildly amusing for you in a casual setting, it can prove to be a real nuisance or a downright danger in certain situations.
To mitigate the potentially dangerous consequences of static electricity, many people use devices that have ‘anti-static’ properties. These are conductive tools that are used to deal with static discharge and you will find a number of different types available for use.
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How Does an Anti Static Wrist Strap Work?
An anti static wrist strap is a conductive device that is worn on the wrist to give electrostatic charge a means or pathway to dissipate. The goal is to get the static current from your device or charged object and into the ground so it can be safely discharged.
The strap of this bracelet is usually made of an elastic band that contains conductive fibers within it. These fibers, usually made of carbon and having the capacity to carry and transmit a charge, are then connected to a wire which ends in a clip that can be attached to a ground conductor.
Typically, you will also need an antistatic mat or some form of static dissipating material to work in conjunction with the wrist strap.
The strap will be in direct contact with the skin of your wrist. Thus, when you touch an object or device, the charge travels to your band, through the cord, and down to the ground through the earthing connection.
Where Do You Attach Your ESD Band?
The band of your anti static wrist strap will typically be a bright, striking, and noticeable color. This is to ensure that it can be seen by other personnel in professional settings where safety of staff and infrastructure is of the utmost importance.
When it comes to wearing your anti static strap, you simply need to place it anywhere on your wrist. The goal is to keep it in direct contact with your skin, so make sure it sits snugly around your wrist.
You may also wonder if there is a preference regarding which hand you should be wearing the bracelet on. Whether you choose to wear your anti static strap on the left or the right hand depends on your own comfort.
Since the band will be connected to a grounded cord, you will want to wear it on the hand that does not interfere or interrupt your working or computing experience. That is why most people recommend wearing it on your non-dominant hand.
You can also go completely left field and wear your wrist band on your ankle so that you are handsfree. Although there are specialized conductive, anti static devices that are made specifically for you to wear on your ankle or other parts of your body.
How to Use an Anti Static Bracelet?
To use your wrist strap effectively, you need to make sure that it is properly grounded. If it is not grounded to your floor properly, the charge will not be dissipated safely and can still wreak havoc.
For instance, some people simply connect the strap directly to the chassis of the computer or electronic device and believe that it works to dissipate the charge.
We are here to tell you that it does not work. You need to have the band securely placed on your person.
Here are steps you can follow to use your anti static wrist strap accurately with your computer system:
- Wear your anti static band on your wrist. Make sure the metallic portion of the band is touching your skin directly.
- Turn off your power supply and then plug it into the outlet.
- Now, you need to place the alligator clip of your grounding cord to another metallic/conductive part. For example, you can attach it to a screw on the power supply or on the grills of the fans.
Why Should You Use an Anti Static Strap?
Like we mentioned before, anti static straps are used to ensure that no mishaps happen pertaining to electrostatic charge.
When this current is discharged, it has the potential to disrupt the functioning of the complex circuitry that constitutes electronic devices. Most modern electronics contain a number of integrated chips, each of which comprises a series of transistors and other components.
These components are extremely sensitive and can be easily disrupted by such discharges. Therefore, many individuals wear anti-static straps to make sure that their computers and other electronic devices are in optimum functioning condition.
These bands are also used in environments that are being used to either store or work with highly volatile material. An electrostatic shock in such an environment can be the little spark of ignition that combustible materials like fuel and solvents need to light up in an unfortunate explosion. By wearing an anti static wrist band, you protect yourself and others around you from any such incidents.
Even if you have not had previous experiences with electrostatic discharge, the best thing to do is to always be cautious. Instead of running the risk of suffering a disastrous consequence like losing all of your hard drive data, simply wear a strap on your wrist to keep yourself, your data, and your devices as safe as possible. Other times, you may be required by your workplace guideline to wear an anti static wrist band depending on the nature of your work.
How Can You Ground Yourself With Your Anti Static Wrist Band?
In order to ground yourself with the anti static wrist band, you have to connect it to the grounding pin in your outlet. The location of the grounding pin differs based on where you live.
So before connecting your grounding cord to the outlet, find out the location of the grounding pin. Also, always remember to turn off the power supply before connecting your alligator clip.
Best Anti Static Wrist Straps and bands
If you are looking for recommendations to buy an anti static wrist band for yourself, we have compiled a few of the best wrist straps that you can currently get:
Vastar Anti Static wrist bands not only work brilliantly, but they look the part as well. Available in a bright blue color, the lightweight elastic Vastar wristband is super comfortable to wear and breathable. The connector wire is a button model that attaches to an adjustable buckle.
The wire ends in an alligator clip that you can use to ground yourself. The best thing about this bracelet is that it is universally rated. This means that it can be used for high and low-voltage appliances alike.
Rosewill is one of the more popular brands when it comes to anti static bracelets and for good reason. The brand produces some dependable electronic and safety anti static bands that have a simplistic design but work just as well as any other. It has a button style connector similar to Vastar that ends in an alligator clip. The strap is also adjustable for convenience sake.
KingWin Anti Static Wrist Straps are one of the heavier bands available, but that only lends to the durability and efficiency of the device. Perfect for casual as well as professional use, KingWin ATS comes with a unique Velcro strap band that you can adjust around your wrist for a more comfortable fit. It has a higher resistance level which makes it best suited for higher voltage devices like audio and transformer equipment.
Do you Have to Replace Your Anti Static Wrist Band?
There is no hard set rule regarding the replacement of anti static straps. You will be the best judge of when it seems like the best time to invest in a new band. Just make sure you get a new one before your old one reduces to tatters.
Some vendors may tell you that you need to replace your wrist band on an annual or semi-annual basis. This estimation is most likely based on the quality and longevity of the product as assessed by them. If you are using the anti-static strap in a professional capacity, you will most likely be asked to change it frequently.
How Does a Wireless Anti Static Wrist Strap Work? Do They Actually Work?
The modern world of technology has experienced a wave of ‘going wireless’. Almost every piece of technology is being converted into its tether-free, wireless version for a no-strings-attached kind of experience- in the quite literal sense.
The same has also been applied to anti-static technology. The way that these wireless wrist straps seem to work is that they ionize the air particles in the vicinity, emitting a corona aura that is used to neutralize the electrostatic charge.
Unfortunately, so far, most of these wireless wrist straps have been rendered as ineffective by those who have tried and tested them. That is why most settings still strictly employ the use of wired, grounded anti static wrist straps only.
How Can I Make My Own Anti Static Bracelet At Home?
If you need a quick and cheap solution, it is possible for you to build a make-shift anti static bracelet for yourself at your home with your own hands.
- A wrist band (for e.g, rubber or paper)
- Aluminum foil
- Alligator clip
- Cut out a strip of aluminum foil based on the size of the wrist band.
- Paste it to the inside of the band with double sided tape.
- Attach the alligator clip to the band so that it is touching the foil.
- Attach the other end of the alligator clip to the ground pin on your outlet.
What Are Some Alternatives to Anti Static Wrist Bands?
Sometimes you simply don’t have access to an anti-static wrist band or the materials you need to make a DIY one. In such a situation, there are some alternatives you can use to achieve the same goal which is to safely dissipate electrostatic charge.
For example, if you have any other anti-static material like an anti-static bag, you can use that.
Read here my post about Anti-static bags and everything you need to know about them.
Otherwise, you can always take the necessary precautions to make sure you prevent the buildup of charge in the first place. For instance, avoid working with sensitive equipment while standing on a carpet or a rug.
Do not wear socks when assembling your computer. Stay in contact with the unpainted, metallic case of the system to ensure discharge. Occasionally touch the case or shell of the system before touching the motherboard or any other component.