Tuesday, December 6, 2022


RVelectricity – Just Ask Mike (J.A.M.): Geeks having fun with arcs and sparks…


By Mike Sokol
Welcome to my J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session, a weekly column where I answer your basic electrical questions. If you’re a newbie who’s never plugged in a shore power cord (or ask – what’s a shore power cord?), or wonder why your daughter’s hair dryer keeps tripping the circuit breaker, this column is for you. Send your questions to Mike Sokol at mike (at) noshockzone.org with the subject line – JAM. This week I cover the difference between arcs and sparks.

Dear Mike,

Question from a reader

Dear Generic,
Just in case you don’t think that electrical geeks have fun – here are a bunch of answers to that question about arcs and sparks from my RVelectricity Facebook Group.

Yes, I think that’s a pretty good answer. But there’s more.

Action shots of arcs and sparks

Good, and I like the electrical student context. I was hoping to see an answer with actual sparks, and I wasn’t disappointed. See the next answer.


Action shots with sparks always make me giggle. But arcs are even better.

Yes, this is an arc, and I love the smell of Ozone in the morning… But we don’t like to be close to an Arc Flash.

ArcAttack and singing Tesla coils

Been there, done that, saw a really big arc once. But luckily I was far away. Of course, if I wanted to get really close I could get these guys from the band ArcAttack to let me put on a Faraday Cage Suit and step in between a pair of really big Tesla coils.


Yes, that’s not a computer-generated arc. It’s the real thing on a live stage. I want one. I REALLY want one.

All the above statements are true and accurate. Just remember that getting close to any arcs or sparks can be dangerous. So, kids – Don’t try this at home.

OK, everyone. Remember that electricity is a useful and powerful force, so we all need to pay attention to safety precautions while using it.

Let’s play safe out there….

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
Join Mike’s popular and informative Facebook group.
And you don’t want to miss Mike’s webcasts on his YouTube channel.

For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign


Did you enjoy this article?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.


Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

At 5 years of age, I knew I had to figure out that invisible stuff that bit me, and why a piece of wood dowel rod got me out of trouble (I never told my parents). So I eventually got an Electronics Engineering degree. You see, I stuck one end of a Lionel train track, which just happened to come apart with two pins instead of three, in a 120V outlet. Of course I was shocked, and not sure how I knew to get a non-conductor to push it out. That part must have been divine providence!

1 year ago

It’s all fun and games…….till you provide an organic ground path!

Bob M
1 year ago

Mike on the Jayco forum a RV owner asked about the Parkwood 61254 Combiner which you have 2 15 amp plugs to power his RV to run 2 A/C units. Maybe in one of your articles you can explain why using this setup is unsafe. Enjoy your articles.

Glen Cowgill
1 year ago

Used to love to charge an automotive condenser and then hand it to some one and of course see how much arc you can get from a coil especially the GM high intensity coils. My students got the point knowing that the High Intensity coils had the potential to interrupt the normal bodies current flow.

Mike Sokol
1 year ago
Reply to  Glen Cowgill

When I was maybe 10 years old I tried to stop a lawnmower engine by pulling off the spark plug wire. Felt like a huge hand slapped me down on the grass. I still remember it vividly. ⚡️

Glen Cowgill
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Mike, a good coil slap down will never be forgotten. That being said, today’s automobile ignition systems are putting out somewhere in the neighborhood of 120,000V plus and can really get your attention. Being long retired, I am very cautious when working around or near electronics have experienced several teeth rattling shocks.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Every Saturday and Sunday morning. Serving RVers for more than 20 years.