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There is no universally accepted definition, although some industry standards do specify various minimum voltages, above which is considered high voltage. These definitions are generally based on safety considerations or the voltage where arcing will occur. It would be convenient if high voltage was universally accepted to start at a nice round number, for example, 1kV. Instead, we’ve seen voltages as low as 5V referred to as high voltage. In contrast, according to the Bonneville Power Administration, to be considered high voltage, it needs to be 100kV and above!

Technical Issues: Certainly, for most engineers, high voltage is different voltage. It’s no longer engineering-as-usual. Other variables enter into the design and manufacturing processes. You need to take into consideration creepage distance, insulation thickness, corona and geometrical arrangement. It’s no longer a good idea to use your finger to see which component is running hot. Components exhibit unexpected behaviour, like resistors that change value as a function of applied voltage.


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