When a thunderstorm rolls through, it’s pretty unanimously known that if people are outside, they should go inside. When the power goes out, people typically have plans and precautions to guide themselves around the house to a safe spot. What many people don’t think about, though, is the protection of their electronics and appliances.
There are four common ways a house can be subject to damage from lightning. The most common way is a strike to a power line. The electricity travels through the wiring to the house and the connected objects inside. The second most common type is a hit to objects connected to the home, but outside of it, such as an air conditioning unit or satellite dish. The same thing happens here as what happens with a struck power line. A similar effect can occur if lightning strikes the ground; electricity can travel through soil, reaching wiring connected to the wiring in the house. Thirdly, a home can be subject to damage by a strike to a nearby object not attached to the house, such as a tree, telephone pole, shed, or another outdoor object. Rather than traveling through wires as in the first two examples, the electricity emits an electromagnetic field that can be picked up by electronics in the house, damaging them. Lastly, lightning can directly strike the house itself.
For all these listed reasons and more, it is important to invest in lightning surge protection. Lightning protection systems exist; they work through the ground and over the home by using air terminals, conductor cables, and ground rods to prevent electricity from reaching and affecting the house. Though these systems are worth their cost (around 2,000 dollars), they are an expensive investment. What is worth more than its cost, though, is a surge protector.
As the name suggests, surge protectors are there to protect electronics from blasts of electricity. For instance, when a television is plugged into a lightning surge protection piece, and a heavy burst of electricity strikes the pole that connects to the house, the protector detects the high amount of voltage and switches the piece off, protecting the television from the attack. This typically occurs at 120 volts, with a strike from a storm being much stronger. But even with this information known, many people let the idea of lightning surge protection go by the wayside.
Think about it this way: a surge protector can cost as little as 10 dollars at the local hardware store and up to 40 dollars for a professional one. This is small in comparison to the thousands of dollars a new television and its accompanying equipment will cost to replace, and also small compared to a comprehensive protection system. For 1/100 of the expense, surge protectors help prevent three of the four situations mentioned above where excess electricity can reach the appliances and electronics within a home.
Lightning near a house is dangerous; don’t let it strike twice.