Can Surge Protectors Protect Against Lightning

Christina Perez
• Monday, 04 January, 2021
• 8 min read

However, extremely heavy lightning strikes have been known to register as high as a whopping 200,000 amps, so, you can do the math here. It doesn’t take much to figure out that the result here is a fried and probably melted television.

surge lightning arrester protector
(Source: www.regaelec.com)


The reason they may be able to handle this is because by the time that lightning strike gets to your home, a lot of the amperage has already dissipated, but even then, an average surge protector may still not do the trick. These can help add a bit more protection, but then again, a lightning bolt that traveled several miles probably won’t be deterred by a couple inches of space which that disconnect provides.

Therefore, simply put, no, a surge protector won’t do a single thing to stop that lightning strike from deep-frying your television and anything else you have plugged in. Although your basic surge protector won’t do anything to stop the tremendous amperage which a lightning bolt produces, there are some steps you can take to help prevent your electronics from winding up in the trash can after a lightning storm.

These kinds of surgeprotectorscan handle many more amps than an in-home or power strip-type surge protector, potentially up to hundreds or even thousands of amps depending on the specific unit in question. Now, the best lightning protection systems can divert nearly 100% of the amps from your home, which should be enough to save your valuable electronics.

Quite honestly, the best way to stop a lightning strike from frying your television is simply by unplugging it. Whatever it may be, in the vast majority of direct lighting strikes, there is nothing that can fully protect your home and its electronics 100%.

Mother nature can be cruel, so while you can be prepared, being 100% protected in this sense is virtually impossible. Surge protectors are a common staple in just about every house that has a computer or expensive electrical equipment.

surge protector
(Source: www.tripplite.com)

And while that may be the case for smaller variances in the electrical grid, will they really protect equipment from a lightning strike? Over the last few decades, fuses have been replaced by circuit breakers and reset buttons, that when exposed to the same power surge, trigger a re-settable switch into the open position, also creating an air gap of just a few centimeters.

The voltage of a lightning bolt will not only blow the circuit breaker, but it will also jump the small air gap of a few centimeters. If an air gap of three or more miles isn’t enough to stop a lightning bolt, neither is a surge protector.

The only way to achieve some level of protection against lighting is with a whole-house lightning mitigation system, but even that won’t guarantee the safety of your electronic equipment. One could also look at a whole-house lightning suppression system that attaches to the main service panel, but this too will not provide 100% protection, and they can be quite expensive.

The absolute best way to protect your equipment is to simply unplug it from the wall if a thunderstorm is nearby. Once unplugged, the equipment is no longer tied into the electrical wiring of the house or a common grounding system.

Therefore, the likelihood of the lightning’s electric current arc flashing to the equipment to find “ground” is extremely remote. Since a lightning bolt exceeds 4 billion joules, you will not be reimbursed for any damages if your house takes a direct hit.

(Source: www.tripplite.com)

First, though, let’s take a look at the unfortunate reality: no system provides 100% protection from a direct lightning strike. The bottom line: The electricity in a lightning bolt is much too powerful to be 100% stopped by any type of system.

In fact, a single bolt of lightning can contain up to one billion volts of electricity. And not even a full-fledged lightning protection system can divert 100% of that electricity safely into the ground.

The good news is that the chances of lightning striking your home is much rarer than a power surge caused by downed power lines or from appliances in your home cycling on and off. Surge protectors work by monitoring the amount of voltage that flows along wiring.

We suggest “layering” your home’s surge protection by installing both types of surge protectors. Plus it stops any leftover voltage from a large external power surge from reaching your home’s electronics.

These surge protectors help catch any leftover voltage from larger internal power surges before it reaches your electronics. The good news is that these surge protectors don’t require professional installation.

surge lightning line phone protector network ethernet rj45 lines protection tripp voltage arresters lite rj11 inline grounding protectors noitila tripplite
(Source: www.tripplite.com)

In fact, you can find point-of-use surge protectors at most general stores and can install them easily on your own. Direct lightning current is simply too big to protect with a little electronic device inside a power strip, or even a hefty UPS unit.

As a result, they have some of the most robust lightning protection systems available, but damage to equipment still occurs on occasion. It won't think twice about jumping a few more inches, or even a few more feet, especially if the 'path of the least resistance' to ground is across the contacts of the disconnect switch.

A house or building is nothing more than a set of resistors 'connected' in parallel- the electrical wiring, plumbing, phone lines, steel framework, etc. It is not uncommon for 'side flashes' to occur inside a house or building, where all or a part of the lightning will jump across an entire room to reach ground- such as from the electrical wiring system to well-grounded water pipes.

If your computer is in the way, it'll be time to shop for a new one, even if you have the most expensive protection system installed. A 'side flash' often occurs when lightning branches out into several channels as it tries to bury itself deep into earth.

So even if the bulk of the current is flowing to ground through the heavy cables of your protection system, there can be small 'overflow' discharges, even if the lightning hits outside the structure. Such an event was experienced by my Grandmother, who witnessed a 6-foot-long blue spark jump across the room from a wall outlet to the kitchen faucet as lightning struck nearby.

close surge
(Source: www.tripplite.com)

But in reality, nothing can guarantee absolute protection from a direct or very close strike. Any device will provide some degree of protection from everyday power line spikes and distant lightning strikes.

The best and cheapest, way to protect your stereo, television, computer, or any electronic appliance is to unplug all power, telephone (modem), and antenna connections during a thunderstorm. Some could argue that the risk of a direct strike to any given house is too low to justify unplugging everything for every storm that passes overhead.

However, consider irreplaceable such as the data saved on your computer (photos, videos, work files, etc). You can mitigate that risk by performing frequent offsite backups and/or storing data on an external hard drive that you can unplug when needed.

Bonding, meant to reduce the possibility of voltage differences that are a safety risk. There is at least one non-linear component of the SPD, which under different conditions, transitions between a high and low impedance state.

At normal operating voltages, the PDS are in a high impedance state and do not affect the system. After the transient is diverted, the SPD automatically resets back to its high impedance state.

surge electrical safety power protector fires protection safe keep tips beyond contractor layers maryland washington strip homes
(Source: www.consumersafetyguide.com)

PDS will activate and begin to conduct energy into the grounding system if surges to bonded equipment exceed the designated rating. Lightning is the most likely external cause of a significant surge, and PDS must be installed to limit currents entering into the internal environment, showing the importance of an interconnected facility electrical protection system.

According to UL 96A, for example, service entrance PDS must have a Nominal Discharge Current rating of 20 a. Not all UL listed PDS are necessarily rated for use with a lightning protection system.

Download the event ERIC Lightning Protection Handbook for an in-depth look at the comprehensive system and its components. With all the recent lighting storms we have been experiencing in the Nashville area, we wanted to share some tips for mitigating their effects on your electrical system.

Lightning isn’t the only thing that can damage your expensive electrical equipment. These small, but frequent power surges can deteriorate electronic items and shorten their lifespans.

Modern surge protectors use metal oxide various (Move) to shunt power surges. Modern homes with expensive electrical systems often come standard with whole-home surge protectors as an added safety feature.

If you don’t have whole-home surge protection, here are some tips for preventing lightning storm damage to your Tennessee-area home: In the event of severe storm, switch off power to your well pump for temporary inconvenience, but long term peace of mind.

TECHNOLOGY Modern households have more electronic gadgets and electrical equipment than ever before. New LED bulbs also contain micro circuit boards that are sensitive and can easily be compromised by an electrical surge.

The amount of personal gadgets a household owns has increased considerably within the last decade. Computers, pads and smartphones all carry essential information and need to be protected.

These small surges won’t cause any major damage, but over time they can degrade the performance (and shorten the lifespan) of your appliances and electronics. If an appliance in your home sends a surge through a shared circuit (one that’s not dedicated), then the other outlets could be compromised.

A layered system will be connected directly to the electrical panel and at the point of use. A power conditioner with surge suppression in the best option to handle these shared circuits.

COMPLETE ELECTRICAL SYSTEM PROTECTION Though a whole-house surge protector’s main function is to prevent your home’s appliances and electronics from harm, it is also protecting the entire electrical system. To make sure you are protected from your electrical system, remember to test your FCS and AFIS every 30 days.

A home with subpanels should seek protection of around half the a rating of the main unit. However, if you live in an area that endures several electrical storms a year, a surge protector with an 80kA rating would be a smart investment.

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