Technicians regularly use anti-static wrist straps when they are building computers. They are also commonly used in conjunction with Anti-Static Mats. These wrist straps are also commonly referred to as ground bracelets and ESD wrist straps, which is something you have probably seen if you watch YouTube tutorials.
Anti-Static wrist straps are necessary to ensure that the difference in voltage between the computer and your body is balanced, preventing any potentially damaging Electrostatic Discharges from happening.
These wrist straps are used in any activity whereby there is electrostatic discharge. You want to avoid this as much as possible, as even the smallest amount of ESD could cause irreparable damage to your electrical components or hardware, rendering them useless.
The last thing you want to happen to your new graphics card, or even worse, your motherboard, is to install them in your computer to find that a tiny burst of electrical energy has fried them.
With that being said, if you work in the electronics industry or have any hobbies that fall into these areas, continue reading to find out exactly how to use an anti-static wrist strap. This should help you to determine the best solution for you, and you will also discover more about anti-static ankle straps.
The first thing you need to realise is that there are two different ways that you can utilise an anti-static wrist strap to protect you and your equipment from sudden electrical discharges. These are as follows:
The first option is bonding, which may seem more convenient because it involves using the anti-static wrist strap on its own. Still, it is advisable to opt for grounding if you are regularly coming into contact with electronic items. Nevertheless, let’s explain how bonding works.
Bonding involves connecting the user to the machine that they are working on. This means that your body will be put at the same voltage potential as your entire computer. This means there the possible static discharge is eliminated.
This is the other option you can make the most of if you need to use an anti-static mat. With this option, you drain the charges directly to the Earth instead of connecting only to a PC to balance the voltage.
You do this using an anti-static mat, commonly known as a bench mat, which has been specially designed. With bonding, the user needs a cable and an anti-static wrist strap to connect the user to the device. However, with grounding, an anti-static mat will connect the components and the user to the grounding point, which is typically a plug socket.
These set-ups are recommended for those who work with electrical components daily, especially if you have a lot of costs involved. For example, if your job involves working with satellites, you should most certainly go down this route to protect the equipment you work with.
You will also need to go for this option if you work with a laptop or if there is any other reason why you cannot bond yourself to the machine you are using.
It is important to note that the exact method of connection you will use for grounding does depend on the model of the mat you have purchased. That said, you should always refer to the instructions before starting the connection process.
Ensure you read them carefully so you do not make any mistakes. In some cases, cables will be provided, and you will receive crocodile clips so you can connect the mat and wrist strip directly to the PC you are using.
There are other systems, such as the ones we sell here at First Mats, which require you to connect your wristband to a connection point on the mat. This will also be connected to a specially designed plug socket or a Common Ground Point.
The materials utilised enable static flow through them, which means that all of the electrical components are earthed merely by making contact with the mat's surface.
It is also worth noting that you have another option, which is an anti-static ankle strap. These straps are suitable for those who stand on an anti-static mat instead of using one on a bench.
This is common when workers need to be mobile in a work area; therefore, a grounding cable would merely get in the way. Moreover, they are often used in operating theatres, whereby explosive anaesthetic gases and oxygen are utilised. If this is the case, you can use an anti-static mat to ground yourself.
These will ensure that static is safely discharged by connecting a strap to your ankle, dissipating static charges through the mat’s conductive surface. The charge will then be drained away safely by utilising a grounding point.
Hopefully, you can better understand how to use your anti-static wrist strap. While you can use it without a mat, most technicians prefer the option of grounding, as this is much more suitable for people using electronic components daily. There are plenty of great online videos you can refer to if you want to see an anti-static wrist strap in action to ensure you are using it properly.
More information: Anti-Static Mats and Accessories
Richard O'Connor is a Director at First Mats. He has deep knowledge in areas like Manufacturing, Warehousing, Marine, and Health & Safety. Richard's insights have been featured in well-known publications such as Bloomberg Business, The Sun, and Reader's Digest. His blend of industry expertise and passion for sharing makes him a sought-after voice in his fields.