Lightning Strike

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PerryRT

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OK, half vent, half question:

Early Friday morning, my house took a lightning strike. Blew one circuit electrically, but also came in through the broadband cable. Short version is that I'm now the proud owner of a new surge protector, new modem, new router, new XBox, new Roku box, etc. Everything that was connected physically to the cable was KIA. Plus my sprinkler controller, porch lights, etc.

Ouch. :fan:

Now, note I said I'm buying a new surge protector. I had and was using a surge protector with a cable in/out function. It's has a black scorch/puddle on the bottom of it now, so it must have done something, but obviously it failed.

In other words, I THINK I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, and this just happened to be an "unsurvivable event". It happens, and this is why I have homeowner's insurance....but I suppose I should ask:

1) Anyone know any other reasonable precautions I should take to keep a zorch like this from happening again in the future?

2) Any practical advice on surge protectors? I suspect they're not created equal, but I don't have a good source that I trust for reviews of stuff like this.

Thanks.

 

steamer

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Sorry to hear man, hope it gets back together soon enough.

Dave

 

Foozer

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If the strike is close enough no surge protector will, well protect. The current just flashes over whatever means was used to temper the spike.

Only sure way is to unplug the sensitive equipment during times of expected strikes. When your dealing with a hundred thousand amp strike even a tenth of a percent bleed over has enough heat to make lots of toast.

You became the surge protector for your neighbors, its the pits I know but the juice does what it wants too.

One here did make a real nice light show as the transformers up and down the block went Pop Pop Pop a few years back


Robert
 
J

JorgensenSteam

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I have designed industrial power and control systems for many years, and these designs are in tornado and lightning alley in the US, so they tend to take a lot of lightning strikes. I have found out very quickly which suppressor products work, and which don't, and also found out all the places where you need a suppressor (multiple levels and places).

I also design 5KV lighting systems for airport lighting, and the larged grounded surface of the runway makes for a great negative sink for lightning strikes.

The trick with suppressors is to use multiple layers of them.
I start sometimes at 23KV, and install pole-mounted large arrestors, then arrestors in the medium voltage switchgear, and then more suppressors in the 480 volt gear.

I also often have to install a suppressor at each pump motor of a distributed water pumping system.

Control systems propogate lightning surges just as bad or worse than the power wiring, and for remote I/O points, either a wireless transmitter or a fiber optic connection is used to break the copper link that lightning will flow on.

Each suppressor contributes to reducing the surge from a strike, and so at my house, I use a Surge Suppression Inc. #CKLA1S1AC, which is a 120/240 volt, single phase unit at the service entrance panel, and then a Tripp-Lite UltraBlok 428 at every computer, TV, printer, and similar electronic equipment.

Surge Suppression Inc. makes the only good suppressor that I know of. The dirty little secret of surge suppressors is that the big suppressors that sell for $5,000.00 plus don't work well at all. Suppressor manufacturer's will post a huge number for the amount of surge their unit can withstand, but the withstand has nothing to do with how well the unit protects, it is the voltage let-thru that actually prevents electronics from getting damages, and the SSI unit has very low let-thru voltages, and has solved many a nasty lightning problem at many a plant in this area.

I would suggest wireless for internet at your house, so you don't have that data link to a cable or antenna on top the house.

Any suppressor will fail if it absorbs enough surge, but the true test of a suppressor is when it fails, but nothing else downstream of it is damaged. Even if a good suppressor fails at your service entrance, it can still reduce the surge to a level that a TripLite UltraBlok 428 can easily handle.

If all else fails, then install lightning rods on top the house with copper wires going down to ground rods in the earth. Some guys who live on top of mountains/hills have to resort to this sort of thing in order to shunt most of the lightning strike to ground before it enters the house.

Variable speed drives are particularly vulnerable to voltage surges, and should be protected upstream with a good suppressor.

Surge Suppression Inc. also makes data line suppressors that work well, if you have to maintain a copper data line connection.
 

Tin Falcon

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I too have been a victim. A couple years ago I had I am guessing lightning near my house . I came home the phone lines were no working several cf bulb in one end of the house burned out and later discovered the control board of the mini lathe and mini mill fried. I was able to repair cheaply with the help of another tech at work.
I will not try to expand on what unicastings said but put a surge protector on everything in the house that has a circuit
board on it that is of any significant value.
Microwave ovens, machine tools , scales computers etc.
Tin
 

chucketn

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I have a similar tale of woe, but not from a lightening strike as far as I know. The sky was clear.
The electric service (two legs of 110 and a stranded neutral cable) to my house shorted. The short sounded like a shotgun blast and sent a shower of sparks down off the roof to the deck where my female chow mix dog was laying. To this day, she tries to climb in your lap at the first rumble of thunder.
We lost 2 tv's, 2 microwaves, cordless drill battery chargers, the electronic controls for the oven, telephone answering machines, cable modem, surge protected power strips and more. The electric company was called and quickly came and repaired the wiring, but didn't want to know about the damage.
I filed a claim with my homeowners insurance for $1500, and got $1,000 ($500 deductable). Imagine my delighted suprise when about a month after receiving the $1000 settlement, I got another check for $500 from the insurance company! They went after the electric company and recovered my deductable!

Chuck in E. TN
 

rake60

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Several years ago we had a major power surge here.

A 12 kilovolt line made contact with a 4 kilovolt line.
I had surge protectors on all of my appliances but it went right through them.
Even the wall outlets arced momentarily. PENELEC, the power company, did pay
for all of the damaged appliances, televisions, stereos and computers.
The payment for each item was adjusted for the age of the equipment of course.
It was not enough to replace everything.

Rick
 

PerryRT

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Well, as an update to this thread, I went out and did a close inspection on the broadband cable, and found that the ground wire from the lightning arrestor block (which, I believe, is required by code) wasn't attached to anything. No idea if I bought the house that way 2 years ago, hit it with the weed wacker, or the force of the strike blew it off of the ground rod. Anyway, that didn't help. OTOH, I suppose I should count myself lucky - since I gave up on cable TV several years ago, the strike blew my $79 Roku box, not my $800 TV. I spent this evening troubleshooting the garage door opener - it's logic board is fried, but I think that's the last bit. Now, I just have to get it all repaired and the insurance claim stuff taken care of, and I'm good. A bit poorer, but that's ok.

Lessons learned?

I need to compliment my neighbor on his patriotism and see if I can get him to install that flagpole he's been talking about for years. :D A big 40' one. With a brass knob on the top. Or several of them. Maybe that will help.

I've spent years as an aircraft mechanic, so while this is my first lightning strike in my house, it's far from my first experience with it. A long time ago, one of my instructors said that the only thing you could predict about lightning was that it would be unpredictable. Still true.

Thanks for the advice, all.

Oh, and the good news was that my "standard safety practices" saved the important stuff.... I have this habit, taught in a shop class many moons ago (thanks Mr Gordon!) of unplugging shop equipment unless it's in use..... so the mills and the lathes were all unplugged at the time of the strike. *whew*
 

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