Shopping Discussion

Static Electricity & Shopping Carts

  • Last Updated:
  • Feb 18th, 2011 9:02 am
Member
Mar 3, 2008
294 posts
125 upvotes
Calgary

Static Electricity & Shopping Carts

Every time I go to Walmart and use one of their carts, I get a few electric shocks from touching the metal components of the cart or sometimes through the handlebars and into my hands. Is there any way to prevent this because this is starting to get annoying.
28 replies
Deal Addict
Jun 11, 2005
4886 posts
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Mississauga
Your probably getting static electricity from the clothes you are wearing.
Deal Addict
Apr 8, 2010
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Burlington
canadianstephen wrote:
Feb 6th, 2011 1:51 am
Every time I go to Walmart and use one of their carts, I get a few electric shocks from touching the metal components of the cart or sometimes through the handlebars and into my hands. Is there any way to prevent this because this is starting to get annoying.

Never leave the house.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 7, 2002
8051 posts
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Waterloo, ON
canadianstephen wrote:
Feb 6th, 2011 1:51 am
Is there any way to prevent this because this is starting to get annoying.
You could raise this issue with the store manager.

Static electricity is associated with low humidity. That's why it's most often a problem in the winter. The store could turn up the humidifiers in their HVAC system.

The store could also install static discharge wires on each cart that conduct static to the floor. See No Cart Shocks: Device Can Stop Static Buildup

According to Static Shocks In Supermarkets
1. The problem is Triboelectric static generation
2. Thestatic generation is from the insulative wheels rolling on an insulative floor. Typically a new store with new carts cause the most problems.
3. The electrostatic charge is accumulated on the wheels inducing a high electric potential on the cart. If there is a platic handle on the cart, this potential is induced on the person. If there is no plastic hanle or if the person is touching the cart, the high potential is conducted to the person. In any case the person and the cart rise to high electric potential.
4. This potential causes a painful or annoying spark discharge when the person touches the metal of the food racks or the product such as canned vegitables. It is like walking across a carpet and touching a metal door knob. ZAP!

Lack of grounding of the store and racks is not the problem. In fact it is the grounding of the metal in the store that makes the energy of the discharge higher. It has a very low resistive path to ground of the discharge from the person.

This problem can be reduced by the cart manufacturer by making the wheels conductive with carbon loading or conductive fibers. Many manufacturers either do not know this or do not want to add the costs.
The article goes on to explain how you can protect yourself with a simple bracelet.

Amazing what you can find on the Internet with a simple Google search, eh?
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Oct 13, 2008
358 posts
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Calgary
bylo wrote:
Feb 6th, 2011 9:31 am
You could raise this issue with the store manager.

Static electricity is associated with low humidity. That's why it's most often a problem in the winter. The store could turn up the humidifiers in their HVAC system.

The store could also install static discharge wires on each cart that conduct static to the floor. See No Cart Shocks: Device Can Stop Static Buildup

According to Static Shocks In Supermarkets[/url]
The article goes on to explain how you can protect yourself with a simple bracelet.

Amazing what you can find on the Internet with a simple Google search, eh?
Really? Petition walmart to spend more money to reduce static... riiiight. Or, you could realize that it's a fact of life in Canada in winter, and stop wearing silk panties with your wool pants.
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Jan 7, 2002
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Waterloo, ON
codetrap wrote:
Feb 6th, 2011 10:30 am
Really? Petition walmart to spend more money to reduce static... riiiight.
Really!

1. The cost of cranking up their humidifiers may not be huge. Maybe they even forgot to do it at the onset of winter or the humidifiers aren't working or need an adjustment or...

2. The cost of installing static discharge wires on shopping carts certainly isn't very expensive.

3. The suggestion to wear a static discharge bracelet wouldn't cost Wal-Mart anything.
Or, you could realize that it's a fact of life in Canada in winter, and stop wearing silk panties with your wool pants.
The article I cited about static discharge wires on shopping carts came from a Sacremento TV station. I doubt their winters are as dry as Calgary's or that many of their residents wear silk panties or wool pants at any time of year.

Other than that, you do make some valid points :rolleyes:
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Jul 5, 2010
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bylo wrote:
Feb 6th, 2011 10:56 am
2. The cost of installing static discharge wires on shopping carts certainly isn't very expensive.

Do you realize the magnitude of their shopping cart fleet? Thousands upon thousands upon thousands.

Shopping carts aren't cheap to replace either. I can't remember the exact cost of them but they are quite pricey.
Deal Fanatic
Jan 7, 2002
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Waterloo, ON
Awjvail wrote:
Feb 6th, 2011 12:44 pm
Do you realize the magnitude of their shopping cart fleet? Thousands upon thousands upon thousands.
Do you realize the magnitude of Wal-Mart's size? In 2009 they had $250B in sales over 8,500 stores. Assume 1,000 carts per store, that's 8.5M carts or about $30k revenue per cart. Do you suppose they could afford to spend a loonie or twoonie per cart to add a static discharge wire in order to keep their customers static free in winter?
Shopping carts aren't cheap to replace either. I can't remember the exact cost of them but they are quite pricey.
Who said anything about replacing carts? Carts are pricey, indeed. They cost around $100 a pop for plain ones. That might be interesting in this discussion if it was somehow relevant. But it's not ;)
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Apr 7, 2008
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Answer :

Fabric softener sheets. Rub/wipe down
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Nov 3, 2007
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Toronto
Assuming you probably have a house key or car key on you... hold the metal key in your fingers and poke the key against something metal on the shopping cart. You should see the static discharge happen through the key instead of your fingers. Then you should be safe to touch the shopping cart.

I used to do this all the time in my office because I hated getting static shocks with the metal doorknobs.
Sr. Member
Feb 11, 2007
675 posts
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canadianstephen wrote:
Feb 6th, 2011 1:51 am
Every time I go to Walmart and use one of their carts, I get a few electric shocks from touching the metal components of the cart or sometimes through the handlebars and into my hands. Is there any way to prevent this because this is starting to get annoying.

I get the same problem at Walmart but I don't get it at other stores. I do use a fabric softner so that is NOT the issue. The issue is the humidity. I will try the key thing that someone suggested.
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Oct 7, 2007
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Mississauga, ON
I am pretty sure this isn't a problem with Walmart only. If you get shocked by their carts chances you get the same thing by other carts no? Singling out Walmart is a little unfair, unless they actually did something special to their carts that other places didn't but I doubt it.
There's a sucker born every minute.
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Sep 3, 2006
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number8888 wrote:
Feb 7th, 2011 9:59 am
I am pretty sure this isn't a problem with Walmart only. If you get shocked by their carts chances you get the same thing by other carts no? Singling out Walmart is a little unfair, unless they actually did something special to their carts that other places didn't but I doubt it.

I get shocked everywhere. Loblaw's carts on their hard tiles being the worst offender. Not the end of the world.
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Jun 3, 2010
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Richmond Hill
bylo wrote:
Feb 6th, 2011 9:31 am
According to Static Shocks In Supermarkets
The article goes on to explain how you can protect yourself with a simple bracelet.

Static String! I need that. Anyone know where to buy it? Of course, I don't need a whole ROLL of it. I only have two hands.

I get shocked left right and center. I'm just a very dry guy. Anything I can do to help reduce the shock, I'll try. I've had numerous times where my finger would get numb for about 30 seconds from the shock. That is quite uncomfortable, especially when I am holding something and don't want to drop it because of the shock.
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Jan 7, 2002
8051 posts
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Waterloo, ON
toram23901 wrote:
Feb 7th, 2011 1:22 pm
Static String! I need that. Anyone know where to buy it? Of course, I don't need a whole ROLL of it. I only have two hands.
Electronic supply stores sell grounding braid as well as solder wick in rolls of various dimensions and lengths:

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