Your system struck by lightning? What did you learn?


I'm really curious to learn from anyone who has suffered a lightning strike.  Did you use surge suppression? What survived? What did not? Were your neighbors worse or better off?

Anyone pay for the electrical service's monthly surge suppression in the meter?
erik_squires
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Unplug during storms.
I have whole house surge protection and my power conditioners have surge protection, however when we get real bad storms with lots of lightning I unplug my 2 systems
Synology HD.  PIA, it has the OPSYS on it.  Put it on a sacrificial. Good enough.
I had a ground-fault catastrophe.  It destroyed every SS piece of equipment that was hooked up (two cd-players, a sub ... [along with the oven fan; the coax cable for internet melted]).  Tube equipment SEEMED unaffected, but a blown capacitor showed up later in the summer in one of my amps--I assume that's what caused it.    I also had a lightning strike years ago that took out my VHS (not anything in my sound system).   What struck me as odd is in neither case did a circuit breaker blow; and in none of the burnt out equipment did the fuses blow.  Maybe someone w/ more expertise than I have can explain why not? (I didn't really expect a tiny fuse would stop a lightning bolt that had already travelled five miles to my house, but I wouldn't have expected it to survive either.)

Yes; have been stuck twice and had power surges/dips from heck (those can fry electronics too). 

Whole house surge protection is in. Inexpensive to do all things considered. 

Robust power conditioner in use.

Unplugging when away or when thunder is around is standard procedure around here. 


What struck me as odd is in neither case did a circuit breaker blow; and in none of the burnt out equipment did the fuses blow. Maybe someone w/ more expertise than I have can explain why not?

Speed, and current. You can fry solid state equipment with microamps. Just have to have the high voltage there for a microsecond, and poof.

The fuses and circuit breakers never have time to respond.

Fuses don't respond to voltage. 

To give you an idea, I used to work in a place that assembled solid state audio gear, most of it op amp based, and a certain manufacturer's parts, perhaps Fairchild?  (1980's)  was super susceptible to static during assembly.  The little zap that a human could apply, sometimes unnoticeable, was not enough to harm the technician, anymore than say rubbing your shoes across carpet and zapping an unsuspecting family member.

The fuses however don't go until there's enough current to melt the metal inside them.
@jdane 

Your situation reminds me of lightning strike incedents I had. 

1. My Levinson no.39 CDP was damaged while connected to a satellite decoder by SPdif coax cable, to play the digital music channel stations. Very expensive repair required upgrade to a no.390S.

2. My 'extra view" decoder connected to main decoder for' heart-beat' by coax, was blown, though not the main decoder. But Levinson no.36 DAC connected to DVD player by RCA cables for sound and RGB cable for picture was damaged, though not the TV conneted by HDMI Cable to the decoder and neither the DVD player!

3. My 'extra view' decoder blown again connected by coax cable to LNB on satellite dish (one coax goes to satellite dish and one goes to the main decoder for 'heart-beat' transmission). This time the LNB on the satellite dish got blown, the decoder digital HDMI Cable output got blown, the TV HDMI Cable input no. 1 got blown, the BluRay player conncted by HDMI Cable cable to TV blown. 

All this to me clearly indicates, that by very close lightning strikes, the strong magnetic field created, lifts the ground in the cable shielding for split seconds by so much voltage, that practically all equipment connected by coaxial as well as HDMI Cable will be affected and at least partially damaged. 
The connected BluRay player is a total 60-70 meters! away from the damaged satellite dish LNB, and the lifted ground connection still destroyed the HDMI Cable connected side of the player. 
Though it now still can play CDs via optical TOSLINK feeding into my Levison DAC! 

I'm not sure at all, if I had disconnected the decoder power supply, which is a 'wall-wart' 12 Volt power supply, connected to the 220 Volt house supply, would have prevented these recuring disasters.?!? 😕😭🙄
The lightning strike will tell, as now I disconnect the power to the decoder, when ever we have thunderstorms in the offing. 

None of these issues so far ever have been caused by the power mains 220Volt supply, as there seems a pretty go lightning protection provided by the municipal power supply.
This, during lighting, often causes intermediate power drips followed by pretty fast power resets. 
Sorry for the long winded story 🙏
Michélle 🇿🇦 
Lightning hit gutter and roof. Big flash and a bang. Smelled burning. Called fire dept. Lost $2600 refrigerator, modem and router, coffee maker, clock radio, a few LED bulbs and 2 breakers. A fuse blew in phono preamp. No other damage. No whole-house surge protectors. 
After losing a couple of satellite receivers in a row after mere wind storms,
I definitely recommend that all outdoor antennas be surge protected. 
Satellite receivers can blow from static discharge of air blowing across reflector.

These devices are hard to guard properly.  You need a surge/grounding block on the outside, plus a ground isolator on the inside, which has to have power, since you also block DC. The external house ground often causes ground loops internally, which is why I think installers don't bother.
CMOS chips were very susceptible to static, since even small amount of momentary current (in order of 30mA) could create a "Latch-up" where totem pole output (NMOS+PMOS) would become SCR-like structure.  Latch-up would draw current and temperature would eventually kill the chip (matter of minute).   Todays MOS ICs are designed with greater immunity to latch-up, but my first instinct when something is not responding after static zap, would be to turn the power off (to "un-latch").

I have whole house surge protector and good non-sacrificial protection in my Furman Elite 20PFi, but I still unplug during storms or when going on vacation.  There is no protection that can stop direct lightning hit - up to 100 megavolts and up to 30 kiloamperes (according to Wikipedia).
Wasn't struck by lightning, but a raccoon shorted out the incoming power to 220 volts.  The lights flickered and I immediately ran to shut off the house's main breaker.  Went back to the living room and smelled that something in the system fried.  Turned out it was the Monster Power Center I had many other things plugged into.  I got lucky because that was the only thing that was affected.  I bought a better model to replace the one that fried.
Hi Eric, We live on the side of a hill. 10 years age we were struck by lightening at 7:30 PM. I was walking down the stair when I heard a loud SNAP. The lights blinked. In that instant we lost both garage door operators, the telephones, the burglar alarm, the computers and both my Preamplifiers. Both were perpetually on. I went up into the attic and there was no sign of anything. The next day I went outside to find fragments of shingles on the ground out back and looking up on the very ridge of the roof about 10 shingles were standing straight up as if they were at attention. It cost the insurance company $16,000. I had replacement value insurance so I made out like a bandit. The Krell preamp was the most expensive single unit and was out of production. It had a scratchy volume pot that could not be replaced and Dan D'Agostino had no intention to fix it. It was a custom pot that was out of stock. He told me to get a pot from Radio Shack and mount it on top! I am absolutely not kidding! Got my first TacT unit and never looked back.
Sometimes nature looks after you:-)
It had a scratchy volume pot that could not be replaced and Dan D'Agostino
had no intention to fix it. It was a custom pot that was out of stock. He told me to get a pot from Radio Shack and mount it on top! I am absolutely not kidding!

That is the funniest thing I've read all year, thanks @mijostyn !
Not surprised. Anyone who puts their signature on a monster dial is not to be trusted.
When you get struck by lightning everything is TOAST.
Not everything. The amplifiers did fine. ESLs don't seem to care either.
I asked the insurance guy if there was anything I could do to prevent it and he said "pray." I do have a whole house surge protector now but I have no idea if it will work. I'll let everyone know the next time I get hit.
I am moving to a lightning prone area this month.  My electric service provider does not offer in-meter surge protection like some do, but I will be adding it to my service panel, and using Furman's near my gear.

Best,

E
@erik_squires  - So you're actually doing it, eh? Where did you decide to go?
Near the water between Savannah and Charleston.
I lived in Alabama for five years and they certainly have whopping thunder storms down there but, I didn't get hit until I moved to New Hampshire:-(
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just unplug when there is a storm brewing and if your going to be gone for days. my friend back in the 70's was sitting listening to music and his tv/fm antenna was struck and it took out his Pioneer turntable, Marantz receiver and Norman speakers

just unplug when there is a storm brewing and if your going to be gone for days. my friend back in the 70's was sitting listening to music and his tv/fm antenna was struck and it took out his Pioneer turntable, Marantz receiver and Norman speakers

Which is great if you know the event is coming, but what do you do about all your other appliances?

The combination of small surges that damage over time plus major appliance damage make whole house protection worthwhile.
I was struck twice by lightning twice in Vietnam as an Army Pathfinder  about 100 feet up a giant banyan tree  puting up radio antennas to tell incoming  Huey's if a
landing field was hot or not .
Good thing I always kept my hand on the wire I put  6 ft of   the antenna ground in .

Nothing like being grounded Shubert. 
When linesmen work on high tension lines, they don't attach themselves to the ground, they bond themselves to the high tension line!

Scary as f**** to me, but the physics is real.

Best,

E
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This is a scary thread, but a wake-up call neverthless.

Has anyone here living in dense residential areas (think Boston, Chicago, New York, and such) had bad lightning experience?
Good thread.  You want to learn from others, not have it happen to you!  I decided to get serious about surge protection after a friend got hit by lightning and lost a bunch of gear.  It took a long time to sort out all the problems at their house.  We get a lot of lightning in our area.

So I got type II whole home surge protection installed on the main panel with a Siemens FS140 Pro.  Installed another Siemens on the subpanel feeding the stereo. The stereo is on Furman Elite gear.  Installed another type II on the subpanel feeding the theater.  The theater is on Zero Surge gear.  All the computers, network, and smaller listening set-ups are on Furman PST.

In a heavy storm, the best protection is to unplug.  Since the theater subpanel is dedicated, that is pretty easy just to flip the whole subpanel breaker instead of unplugging gear (there are 9 total circuits).  The theater has three separate dedicated lines, so those breakers can be flipped too for quick disconnect.  I assume this is a good strategy to flip the breakers?

I still worry about coax as a weak point in my protection. There are two feeds:
- I have an antenna in the attic. The coax line goes through its own Furman PST, then feeds into the SiliconDust HD HomeRun Connect TV Tuner (on a separate Furman PST), which then feeds ethernet to my network (through a CyberMax battery back-up surge protector).  I am considering putting the TV Tuner directly next to the antenna, then plugging that into an access point that has a wireless instead of ethernet backhaul to my network.  That way there wouldn't be a coax or ethernet connection, just the devices power on the Furman PST.  I could unplug the power in a storm and not have to worry about any coax/ethernet connections to the rest of my system.
- Cable internet. I tried running the cable coax through the CyberMax coax and ended up with connectivity issues.  Tried through Furman coax and had worse connectivity issues.  Seems Comcast/Xfinity really wants the coax plugged directly into the modem... Frustrating.  This is definitely a weak point, though at least it is all underground wiring.  And I run the modem's ethernet output through a CyberMax battery back-up surge protector.  And all the network gear power is plugged into the CyberMax which is plugged into a Furman PST.  I am not sure how to improve this.

I luckily don't have phone or satellite to worry about.
I live in California ( bay area) and we don't see much lightning or thunder storms, we just have undependable power from PG&E , like you can be listening to your turntable while a little drop of rain starts to fall and your speed of your turntable will sloooow down, then you indicators on your amp will start to flicker, then the lights will go out !!! now you are sitting in the DARK, then in a flash the lights will come on, then off!!! then on !!! then off!!!! now you call the outage HOTLINE and they tell you, they are aware of the outage and power will return in 8 hours!!! and don't have a class A power amp!!! your power bill will be $ 500.00 to 1k at the end of the month!!!!! Because PG&E decide to install what they call a SMART METER now this meter calculates the kilo wattage DOWN TO THE PENNY!!!!! and when they installed this meter, they LAID OFF the meter maid. now they can read your meter from their service truck on the street, they don't need to get access to your yard!!! and the real reason they installed this meter was because the share holders was losing money from the utility company with the old dial meters and it was not wireless.
now get this PG&E COMBINE'S THE GAS BILL WITH THE ELECTRIC BILL, So we beat the power company with this and now they are mad, when we get ready to go to work, we pull the main breaker at the service box, and leave it off until we come home, now your refrigerator stays cold for three days so no spoiled food here, why power the WHOLE house when no one is home, my bill $32.00 for a month down from $357.00, now when i get home at night I power up to take a shower, power off when i go to sleep== more money to buy more audio. this is how you stick it to the rich SHARE HOLDERS. NO MORE BROWN OUTS!!!!! SAVE YOUR MONEY
I had a lightening storm take out a Vandersteen amp...Repaired at surprising minimal cost, after which I installed a whole house surge protector. No problems after the installation
I live in Central Florida so lightening is a big deal.  There are roof protection systems (lightening rods) that guard against a direct strike to the house.  These run about $2500.  

There are also electrical panel protection systems that guard against surges from hits to the ground or hits to the main wiring miles away.  These run about $500-$1000.

To get protection that is 99% effective, you need both systems in conjunction with plug in wall surge protectors.  Leave any of these out and your protection drops.  And yes, cable, phone and inground sprinkler systems are weak points and require their own protection.

Realistically, you can do all of the above or none of the above and just leave your system unplugged except for when in use.

I have a lightening app on my phone that warns me of lightening within 10 miles (essential for when you are on the golf course) which helps me to decide when to unplug (the only real guarantee of safety).  I unplug if I'm going out of town and if there is a bad storm.  And most importantly, I have good homeowners insurance.

The Florida power companies definitely suggest a panel surge protection system along with wall suppression as a minimum.

I have had neighbors experience both direct and indirect hits with damage ranging from a lot to a little.  None had protection before the hit, all added protection after the hit.

So far, I've been spared.




There are also electrical panel protection systems that guard against surges from hits to the ground or hits to the main wiring miles away. These run about $500-$1000.


These can be a little cheaper. The Seimens BoltShield I just purchased was $150 and was plug and play for my panel. GE and Square D make even less expensive units. The problem with unplugging systems when not in use is that assumes you know when something bad will happen. We often do not, so I do go with the dual protection route, and if things get really dicey then I do unplug them because I’m squeamish.

Don’t forget to put a properly grounded surge protector on any coaxial cables that enter the home. A surge there can infiltrate your electronics and wreak havoc.
I also live in Central Florida and about 4 years ago we got hit. Everything connected to the copper Ethernet network was fried as the main point of entry was the coaxial drop from the cable company. From that lesson much more attention was paid to the low voltage points of entry. We pulled fiber optic cables through the attic and connected all the switches and router together with glass to fully isolate everything. 
We pulled fiber optic cables through the attic and connected all the switches and router together with glass to fully isolate everything.


That's funny because that's kind of what I'm thinking of doing.  Not that extensively. The whole house is wired for Ethernet, but I am going to put together a fiber gap between the modem and main house router.
You can also add coaxial gas tube arrestors upstream of the modem and off air antennas to add another layer. 
F Type Lightning Arrestor Female to Female Bulkhead with O-Ring 3GHz 75 ohm with 90V Gas Tube Discharge TV Surge Protector Surge Arrester https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PXQ4SV4/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_8YYVZXTKYTYQZT6CFB3M
You can also add coaxial gas tube arrestors upstream of the modem and off air antennas to add another layer.


Heh, already ordered. :)
My next door neighbour got struck by lighting about two months ago, house caught on fire.  Major damage, will take them over nine months to repair.  What I didn't realize at the time was I was hit.  I lost two network switches and my Wyred 4 Sound preamp.  It was connected to a panamax MR4300 so I filed a claim with them.  Only paid me market value and not replacement.  Strange that my DAC, Phono pre, Tuner, CD player and Amplifier were all spared.
      While doing TV and Audio repair and rebuilds (Early Seventies), in the Central Florida area, I learned: it's always best to completely unplug anything you value, before the lightning strikes.

       In the Summer, you could set your watch to the daily Thunder Storms (lots of business/lessons of value).

       The only thing I've ever personally lost to a storm, is a microwave, here in Indiana.
I learned: it's always best to completely unplug anything you value, before the lightning strikes.


Very true.  The counterpoint to this is that you can't always be home when these events happen.  If I am home, or know a big storm is coming I turn off my hifi system, but I have too many devices around the house I cannot do this for every time.  Computers, networking infrastructure, TV in the bedroom, Wifi enabled light switches, thermostats, etc.

I take the belt and suspenders approach. Surge suppressor in the panel, and at the devices as well as network surge protectors on either side of the cable modem and I'm about to install a 3' air gap using fiber optic cable between the cable modem and the rest of my home infrastructure.
My boat was struck by lightning, direct hit on my antennae.   Needless to say it fried the radios and other electronics.  Just watched them tow her to a marina to assess damages.  
Oh, and I always unplug when not at home or severe weather predicted.