How to Protect Your Electronics During a Lightning Storm

Lightning storms are amazing natural occurrences. They can also wreak havoc on your tech, especially if a lightning strike hits a power line or transformer near your home. The costs of one single surge can amount to thousands of dollars worth of damaged electronics including computers, monitors, stereo equipment, printers, scanners, televisions, external hard drives, and virtually anything else that plugs into the wall. Surge protectors are available, but are they enough? Here are some tips on how to protect your electronics during a lightning storm.

Insurance

Let’s face it, nothing is absolutely 100% guaranteed to keep your person or possessions safe from an act of nature such as lightning. You can purchase riders on your home owner’s or renter’s insurance that will protect your electronics in the event of an electrical surge or lightning. Many general insurance plans cover electrical damage, but they set very strict limits on the amount that can me claimed at one time. By getting an additional plan on that specific equipment, you will be better prepared should the unfortunate happen.

Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS)

How to Protect Your Electronics During a Lightning StormThese devices act as a go-between for your electronics and the outlet. A rechargeable battery enables the UPS to take over powering your devices in the event of a power outage, brownout, or surge. This minimizes the chance that a sudden shutoff will corrupt data being written to the hard drive, or result in a loss of anything you’re working on at the time. Some UPS systems include guaranteed surge protection, which acts as a temporary warranty for anything plugged in to the UPS. Making a claim against this policy in the event that you do suffer electronic damage to anything plugged in to it can be like pulling teeth, though.

Surge Protector

Possibly one of the simplest and most important things that should be connected to anything expensive and electronic is a surge protector. These can look like giant power hubs or simple strips, and carry a built-in stop in the event of a power surge. When this trips, all power is cut off from your electronics. Many of these come with an impressive dollar amount of guaranteed protection, but like their UPS cousins, making a claim against this can be difficult. For most everyday surges, a surge protector will work wonders. Unfortunately, lightning can still get past it if it strikes close enough or more directly.

Unplugging

Bottom line: if your computer isn’t plugged in, it is far less likely to be subject to electrical damage during a lightning storm. Unless lightning strikes the computer itself, or the general space where it’s sitting, the chances of it being damaged are next to nothing. As much as we hate giving up our electronics during a storm, unplugging them is the absolute best method of protecting them against surges or lightning strikes. For laptop users, take a particularly aggressive lightning storm as an opportunity to calibrate the battery by allowing it to run down, waiting five hours, and plugging it back in. This is good for the battery, and much safer than leaving it in to charge while lightning is striking.

Not all lightning damage presents itself immediately. You may notice a specific component of your computer (network card, video card, RAM, etc.) begin to become less reliable. Some electrical damage may not present itself until weeks, or even months down the road.

Mother Nature is a fierce and sometimes dangerous force. By taking a few steps to protect your expensive electronics, you can avoid losing them to lightning strike.

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • http://www.blurbpoint.com/advanced-seo-services.php ADVANCED SEO SERVICES

    Thanks for sharing important and informative tips. we might want to consider protecting an entire building. Lightning rods
    protect a building from catching fire, not from electrical surges. we don’t increase or decrease the chance of lightning striking your house; we just provide a path for the electricity to reach the ground more
    safely.

     

  • Bwh48

    3 Comments:  1.  Anything in your home [or business] that has micro circuits is suseptable to electrical surges!  This can include items that are hardwired into your electrical system or are otherwise impractical to plug into a surge protector.  Think about it.  Does your Stove, Microwave, Refrigerator, Washer & Dryer, Digital Clock, Telephone base, etc. have digital readouts?  Then it probably includes micro chips!
    2.  You can now get whole house [building] surge protectors installed in your circuit breaker panel or as an option for your power meter.  I suggest you talk to your local electrician and/or power company for options.  Even if you install whole house surge protector [especially to protect those items described in #1 above], I recommend you still install UPS and/or Surge Protectors where you can for high value electronics.
    3.  Many people protect their electrical lines fm power surges; but, forget that any external wiring that runs into your home [or building] is suseptable to lightening strikes.  This includes your telephone line, internet cable, satellite cable, home entertanment cable, etc.  I recommend that when you select your Surge Protectors that you get ones that include built-in connectors for these additional lines.  I personally have Surge Protectors for all my Powered Telephones, High-Speed Internet Cable & Satellite Dish cables. 

  • Learnabit

    Unplugging the power cord is one thing, but disconnecting the CAT5 wire back to the router should also be added. I lost 3 PCs in a lightning storm in July 2011. While the power cord was not in the wall and/or surge, it still traveled through the CAT5 wiring since the Comcast modem was plugged into the Linksys router. And yes the router also was toast

  • Learnabit

    Unplugging the power cord is one thing, but disconnecting the CAT5 wire back to the router should also be added. I lost 3 PCs in a lightning storm in July 2011. While the power cord was not in the wall and/or surge, it still traveled through the CAT5 wiring since the Comcast modem was plugged into the Linksys router. And yes the router also was toast

  • Geomy2k

    change your wall plugs to a GFI  it will pop long before a surge protector