How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Steve G. Your Own Question
Steve G.
Steve G., Electrical Engineer
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 17987
Experience:  Spent 20 years as an Electrical Engineer, designing electrical plans and specifications.
Type Your Electrical Question Here...
Steve G. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

power socket question

This answer was rated:

hi just extremely curious.


i'm from Singapore and if a wall power socket is switched ON, the earth is engaged (by sticking an object in its recepticle and pulling the 'switch down) and someone who is wearing barely any 'safety' decides to poke a metal key in both the Neutral and the Live recepticle each at the same time, would he/she be electrocuted? the person would be standing barefoot on a concrete floor and holding no rubber whatsoever.


obviously i wouldnt try as this is pretty dangerous but what are the chances of the ELCB tripping and saving your life? if it trips at all, will it still be too late to save yourself from injury or even fatality?


from what i understand you would be shocked for a while, that is if you're even lucky. i've been wondering about this for quite some time and would never want to try this so this is pretty much the best way to get an answer.


i'd like to know the severity of the safety hazards of such an experiment, without actually doing it. would it be as dangerous if this was done on an extension chord?


i am from Singapore and am not the best around with electrical knowledge.


do help as i really do not want to try this but would like to know answers!

Hello there and welcome to Just Answer. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be assisting you today. I am an engineer with over 30 years of electrical and electronic training, repair and installation experience. I will try and answer your question accurately and precisely so that we can get you on your way.

An ELCB is designed to interrupt power to the circuit in a very short period of time. It does this by comparing the current flow in the live and neutral conductors. In any circuit, the current on the live and nuetral are always equal and identical. When any kind of fault occurs on the circuit, such as a current flow to ground for example, the current will be more in the line conductor than the neutral conductor. The breaker detects this and trips.

Typically, an ELCB will trip in 1/40th second or less so to answer your question, if you were to stick something into a receptacle, you would probably experience a shock for that 1/40th second. On 120V and 240V receptacle circuits, it is my opinion that that level of voltage for that period of time would be harmless although I would strongly suggest that you do not try this.

This level of protection is required for in most household consumer panels outside of the US. In the US it is only required in bathrooms, outside areas and hot tubs and pools etc.

Please let me know if you need further info.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

why would you suggest this should not be tried?


some opinions i've gathered is that current will flow from the person's right hand, through the heart and somehow will link up to the left hand which might or might not have an electrical charge.


either way it will affect the heart and that can be defined as a hazard.


am i correct?



If you touch the live and the neutral wire together, current will flow though you but it will also flow to ground and trip the breaker. I do not believe that your heart will have enough time to even notice the current. I have probably been shocked 30-40 times in my life by 120V AC and am still here.

However, as a professional electrical engineer, I cannot tell you that it is ok to push paper clips into an electrical socket and put yourself in danger.

I would not do it on purpose.

I'll be here if you need further help with this issue. Please let me know.



Customer: replied 4 years ago.

my last follow up question hopefully...

because ive asked the same thing to relatively experienced (5-10 years) technicians here, and they all say the same thing


- Singapore's mains current is DC voltage at 220-240V

- if anyone did what i described that would make you 'stuck' and 'part' of the circuit thus not necessarily breaking the circuit


one of them who works on lamp posts recently got a split second shock just touching a neutral wire by accident at work, enough to feel palpitation in his heart for a short moment.


are they correct?


if you're wondering what on earth i'm thinking basically this is an art stunt someone was considering attempting i'm trying my utmost best to not let that stunt happen.


i attempted this once some time back using 2 keys (one into the live the other into the neutral receptacle) linked to a key ring. circuit tripped but the key ring somehow 'melted' eventually and dropped off my personal bunch of keys. my keys never dropped out of that bunch before and im a rather active person.


if a split second circuit could cause then i shudder to think what that could cause to the human body.


thanks for all so far.


I am from the UK and the mains voltage there is 240V also. I have experienced it and it hurts.

You would break the circuit because current would flow to ground, tripping the ELCB - that is what it is designed to do.

Different people have different hearts. I am not a medical doctor, I am an engineer. I cannot advise you on how someone else's heart reacted however an ELCB is designed to break so fast that I doubt your heart would be experience it.

I cannot comment on the melted key. Was that protected by an ELCB or a normal breaker?

I'll be here if you need further help with this issue. Please let me know. Please also rate my service today using the smiley faces or stars that appear right here. It is the only way I am compensated by this site and it works like an eBay or Amazon rating so please consider clicking on one of the better choices :)

I thank you in advance.





Customer: replied 4 years ago.

sorry final question


so would you recommend anyone trying this at all?



No, as I have stated previously, I would not recommend that you try it at all.

If the ELCB fails or if you are somehow insulated from the ground, you will be shocked severely.

I'll be here if you need further help with this issue. Please let me know.



Steve G. and 2 other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

thank you very much sir


this stunt will not be attempted

You are most welcome.

Yes, please be careful.

Have a great day.