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PSUs can kill!

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
Or can they? Over on Linus tech tips forums people say opening up a PSU can kill you etc and on a recent episode of scrapyard wars made by LTT he tells off a seller for leaving an open PSU in a box full of bits saying it could kill someone?

So is it true? and why/how? I've never heard of someone dying from opening up a PSU and I've done it several times before to remove fans and clean the inside of a PSU (dust bunnies man) so what gives, how come I'm not dead?
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post #2 of 32
I know certain capacitors can hold a high enough voltage to send plenty of Amperes to your heart, but I'm not sure on PSU's. Also, it would depend on the PSUs. Lower end might have weaker caps, but might be more vulnerable to a discharge.
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post #3 of 32
The Capacitors inside the PSU can store a charge after the PSU is unplugged , in could in a very small chance kill you , but mostly if its fingers that come in contact it will hurt like hell unless its across the chest , that when it could get you , capacitors do hurt trust me xD .

For that to even happen the PSU circuit board would have to be removed as non of the traces are accessible from the top in most cases and there is also a plastic cover between the board and the metal case .


In some PSUs for PCs I have used the heatinks have floated at high voltages above ground , but that's only when the PSU is on .


Long story short the Caps on the mains input side can bite if you come in contact with one , They do discharge under their own internal leakage but it can be very slow .

Voltage on the input side is around 330V DC in most cases , Either rectified 230V AC or voltage doubled 120VAC
Edited by TwirlyWhirly555 - 10/25/15 at 12:48pm
    
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post #4 of 32
Thread Starter 
So lets say I want to paint my PSU, I want to remove the internals, how would I discharge most of the energy that linus deems as fatal from the PSU? Personally I don't see the issue, I'd normally hit the switch at the wall and press the power button on my case to discharge as much as I could then leave it for like 24hours, remove the internals wearing gloves (like tattoo artists wear) and lay the internals onto a non conductive surface.
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post #5 of 32
It happens. There was a 16 year old that got killed a year or two ago opening up a PSU. While the danger of opening a PSU is high, if one knows what they are doing, it can be done safely. Running an open PSU is just plain stupid, though, because of the exposed high voltages. Personally, I do not EVER recommend anyone opening a PSU under ANY circumstance if only because I have no way of knowing how knowledgeable the person doing the opening is. I've known experienced linemen and electricians who got burned (shocked), occasionally killed, who knew what they were doing back when I worked for an electric/irrigation utility.

You aren't dead because you have been lucky...so far. Instead of courting disaster cleaning dust bunnies out of your PSU, why not keep them out in the first place? DEMCifilter makes round, magnetic filters you can just slap onto your PSU that do a great job of keeping dust out. It's also less work to clean the filter than opening up the PSU (not to mention safer). I have one on mine and dust isn't an issue for my PSU.
     
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post #6 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjiw View Post

So lets say I want to paint my PSU, I want to remove the internals, how would I discharge most of the energy that linus deems as fatal from the PSU? Personally I don't see the issue, I'd normally hit the switch at the wall and press the power button on my case to discharge as much as I could then leave it for like 24hours, remove the internals wearing gloves (like tattoo artists wear) and lay the internals onto a non conductive surface.

Just. DON"T. do. it.
     
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post #7 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lady Fitzgerald View Post

Just. DON"T. do. it.

Calm down, I'm not planning on licking the circuit boards like a Linus Tech Tips Forum user, I simply want to paint the casing. Given I've ridden motorcycles since I was 6 years old and done my own engine repairs I think taking apart a metal box with a few high voltage capacitors will be pretty straight forward, me and disaster have been courting for many years, so much so we're on first terms basis and she calls me up from time to time for a booty call. I really don't fancy choking my PSU with fan filters as I dust my room and work surfaces weekly these days, the other PSU's I took apart I was much younger and lazy.

Relax Lady, no need for the Fitz of anxiety! wink.gif
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post #8 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lady Fitzgerald View Post

Just. DON"T. do. it.
Uhm yeah that is advice too.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjiw View Post

So lets say I want to paint my PSU, I want to remove the internals, how would I discharge most of the energy that linus deems as fatal from the PSU? Personally I don't see the issue, I'd normally hit the switch at the wall and press the power button on my case to discharge as much as I could then leave it for like 24hours, remove the internals wearing gloves (like tattoo artists wear) and lay the internals onto a non conductive surface.
You could wear rubber gloves and rubber shoes if you are a big woos it would certainly increase your resistance. But it's a lot of scaring you that is going here.
I would personally advise you to simply take care in other words take your psu unplug it from the main and put it in a room with somewhat high humidity so it can discharge over time. After waiting a week you are probably fine. If you don't have a week unplug it take it apart avoid touching the traces on the back of the main circuit board and lift it by grabbing the caps or the heatsink that stick.
Next flip it over and where the capacitor joints are apply a resistor across it to equal the charge on both plates.

Best is to use a 1M resistor first then use a 100k resistor then 10k then 1k and then just a piece of wire. (if you want 0 V difference between the 2)
Of course if you just want it safe to handle stop once the voltage is down to 40V or less.

Personally I have taken apart many power supplies in my take everything apart period in life and I have only felt the jolt once. And that was with a broken power supply of which the chassis was holding a charge somehow because it was no longer grounded. In other words a working power supply wouldn't have that and if you take care it can be done very safely.
post #9 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjiw View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lady Fitzgerald View Post

Just. DON"T. do. it.

Calm down, I'm not planning on licking the circuit boards like a Linus Tech Tips Forum user, I simply want to paint the casing. Given I've ridden motorcycles since I was 6 years old and done my own engine repairs I think taking apart a metal box with a few high voltage capacitors will be pretty straight forward, me and disaster have been courting for many years, so much so we're on first terms basis and she calls me up from time to time for a booty call. I really don't fancy choking my PSU with fan filters as I dust my room and work surfaces weekly these days, the other PSU's I took apart I was much younger and lazy.

Relax Lady, no need for the Fitz of anxiety! wink.gif

After reading that, my advice to just don't do it stands more firmly. It takes far less time to clean filters than it does to clean inside a computer and, especially, inside a PSU.

Instead of taking unnecessary chances, why not cover the PSU and the cables running into it with a shroud? Not only would it be safer, it would look better and you wouldn't void any warranty it may have.
     
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post #10 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjiw View Post

So is it true? and why/how?

Absolutely. Most of the time, any time power is applied to the unit, the primary side heatsinks are sitting there live at a couple hundred volts or more. Touch them with the power cord in and the switch on and you will get zapped. The main filter caps can hold a charge for a long time with the power disconnected as well.

Any time I open a unit for a review, I'm always very careful to keep my fingers away from the primary side PCB traces under the board. I have had units arc over on me when I put the soldering iron to those parts, and that's with the guts lying in front of me on the electronics bench having been unplugged for hours.

That said, as long as you're careful about things and not opening up the housing with power applied or poking around the primary side PCB traces there's not too much to worry about. Try not to remove the guts by pulling on heatsinks - you can break solder joints doing that which would kill the PSU. I only do it when I know I'm going to be resoldering those parts anyway. Handle the PCB only by the edges whenever possible. Don't open it up unless it's been unplugged for a day or so. Rubber gloves aren't a bad idea as well.

At any rate, proceed at your own risk.
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