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Every summer

As I said in an earlier post, we were in New Orleans on the weekend of the 11th of April. While we were there, I lost the ability to connect to my house’s electronic monitors. Then at around 8 pm, a neighbor called to tell us that the house was dark. So we called my in-laws and asked them to stop by.

The UPS that powers some of the devices in the house, including my router, was off. My FIL restarted it, rebooted everything that was connected to it, and everything appeared to be working.

Today was my first day off that I could look into it. Reviewing security footage, it appears like my house was struck by lightning for the third time in the past four years. We were hit in July of 2018, which cost us a security camera, a weather station, and a couple of arc plugs. Then I was hit in July of 2019, which cost me my personal weather station, the video driver for the surveillance camera DVR, a cable TV box, and a wireless HDMI transmitter. My neighbor had a hole blown in his roof.

It seems like weather related damage is the bane of this house’s existence. In 2017, I lost a UPS and some electronic devices during Hurricane Irma, and last year, we had a minor electrical fire that necessitated about $1,000 in repairs.

So far, it looks like the strike from last week cost me very little- but it is annoying. The hygrometer on my weather station has been stuck at 99 percent humidity since the strike. That station is less than a year old and under warranty. I just have to decide if it is worth a trip on to the roof.

The weather station is vulnerable because it is on top of a mast that is mounted on the roof- highest point on the house, you know. I am really considering some lightning rods.

Incidentally, we have had more than 7 inches of rain in the past 10 days. There were 4 inches last weekend, we have had another 3 inches plus since Friday, and it is still raining.

11 replies on “Every summer”

I’ve had my own boat’s electronics fried twice by lightning strikes, and sympathize. My workboat too, actually, but that’s more annoying than anything when you don’t get hit in the wallet personally.

The only thing about lightning rods is that I don’t think they would protect the sensitive electronics that have been fried.

“I am really considering some lightning rods.”

Hmm… That might have been something to put on the top of the list after the second time it happened.

Re lightning rods, they help, but the real purpose is to avoid a megaampere or so of current flowing through the house structural members on the way to ground. That helps prevent said house from catching fire from the massive heat surge.

But lightning rod or no, there is still an MA-range current pulse flowing in the vicinity, and it’s going to generate an electromagnetic pulse regardless. That can still couple right into, and drive voltage surges on, house wiring and within electronics, even if the primary lighting current doesn’t pass through house wiring.

Re UPSs, I was very disappointed about a year ago when our house UPS – for the router, DSL modem, and NAS – quietly died without any notice. We found out when we had a power blip that took down all of the above. That unit was a CyberPower; we now run with an APC that, among other things, has a much easier-to-replace battery.

I was thinking the same thing about the EMP. I put a 1:1 BALUN in each camera circuit. If that doesn’t work, I may switch to a POE system, and use shielded cable.

I guess I forgot that even with the rods connected to ground, there still can be an EMP.

My client has a whole house audio video system with a lot of security cams too. Over the last couple of years we’ve replaced 3 high end Sony 4K projectors and the AVR they were connected to. Lightning induced a current in the 50ft HDMI cable connecting them.

We lost a UPS and $1200 security cam one nearby strike.

But the latest strike has stuff dying by degree. So far I’ve replaced the projector, a network switch, DSL modem, ubiquiti access point, remote switch, and nano link, pool controller and gateway, 3 wall wart power supplies and two TVs.

We’re scheduled to do a rip and replace on the whole system, a 7ft rack of gear, home theatre, and up to 13 TVs (although we’ll probably just do the older TVs and upgrade the rest as they fail. The biggest hit, after $12K for the projector, was the control system @10K.

All this and nothing hit the house, only a tree about 20 ft away.

n

I used to work on antenna systems. I’ve never seen any rhyme or reason to the damage created by lightning. Weird stuff. Seen a coax line blown out in two places, burn marks on the gear.

Later on when I worked in Telecom, lightning season meant printing money. Tons of overtime. It got to where I’d dread being on-call. That said, I worked in DC and we had a number of embassies as customers. One had a strike, and I waddled up there with a power supply and had them back up reasonable fast. They were having some sort of party, and cut me loose with a couple six packs and bottles of wine from the motherland.

Made being on call that time worth it.

There is now a device that goes in your breaker box that acts like a surge protecter. I do not know how good it is.

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