5A50.30-Van de Graff generator


Video: Watch this demo

Instructor’s video

Description: This is a high voltage Van de Graff generator (~400,000V) used for many electricity demos.


  • Van de Graff machine.
  • Discharge wand.
  • (Optional) Metal discharge dome.

Setup Procedure:

  1. Connect the Van de Graff to a table that has a three prong cord (grounding prong); else you may get zapped when turning it off.
  2. With the machine off, set the machine to about half speed.
  3. Connect the discharge wand (and any other things that are to be grounded) to the black grounding jack on the machine.
  4. When the professor is done, discharge the metal dome for safety.

Demonstration Procedure:

  1. Turn on the Van de Graff while holding the discharge wand in the other hand.
  2. Bring the discharge wand near the machine to observe discharges.
  3. To turn it off, hold the discharge wand up to the dome and turn it off.
  4. When the machine has stopped, discharge the dome once more.

High Voltage
Due to the high voltage, keep away from sensitive electronics.
Never have a student touch the Van de Graff who has any electronics in their body such as a pacemaker.


  • As with most electrostatic demonstrations, they work best under 50% humidity.
  • If you put two grounding sources close together, you can change the frequency of discharges thus creating more powerful discharges.