Lightning is one of the most frequent causes of power surges and outages in residential homes.
Power strips are devices that plug into a wall outlet, and then allow you to plug multiple items into it. The power strip provides an extra layer of protection between your devices and the outlet.
In this article I will talk about if power strips can protect against lightning as well as explain how this effects electronics in households.
Here’s If Power Strips Protect Against Lightning:
They can protect against lightning, but only if the strip has a surge protector. This is an additional component that prevents damage from electrical surges and spikes. If your power strip doesn’t have one, it won’t protect your electronics from lightning strikes or any other kind of power surge.
Surge protectors will absorb and divert any spikes in power higher than 120 volts. It will divert it into the ground. The TV or stereo will suffer from small spikes happening daily.
Check the protected light on the surge protector because it will stop working at some point. At that point, it will turn into a power strip (losing its ability to absorb power spikes).
The best option is to have a surge breaker installed on your main electrical panel. That will protect the WHOLW house rather than the few items you plug into a surge protector. This will render all surge protectors obsolete as you now have protected the whole house.
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They work in a very easy and simple way:
1) Plug in anything that should be on at all times in the “always on” sockets (such as lamps, fridges, door bells, etc.).
2) Plug the TV or Computer into “control”. Anything plugged in here will control when the others are off.
3) plugin TV-dependent gear into “Switched outlets” (can also called “controlled by master) – they’ll power down when the TV or Computer is turned off.
Power strips are designed to direct electricity away from your electronic devices and prevent them from being damaged by sudden surges in current (or “spikes”). They do this by using metal oxide varistors (MOVs), which are essentially resistors that act as fuses when exposed to an excess amount of current flow through them.
Why Power Strips Cannot Keep Electronics Safe During Lightning Strikes
A power strip connects to an outlet and, in turn, has multiple outlets on it. The power strip then connects to electronic devices such as:
- and other electronics.
The truth is that power strips cannot protect your electronics from damaging voltage spikes caused by lightning strikes.
Unless they have surge protection.
(in which case they should be labeled as “surge protectors” and not power strips).
Can Lightning Strikes Damage your Electronics?
Lightning strikes are not only dangerous but they can also damage or destroy electronics, especially if they are connected to power sources or plugged into a wall outlet.
Some electronics such as televisions, computers and home theater equipment contain components that can be damaged by lightning strikes.
However, not all electronics are susceptible to being damaged by lightning strikes.
Lightning strikes can affect your electronics if you are using them during a storm if you don’t have a surge protector or surge protection coupled directly into your main electrical line.
Lightning can travel through electrical lines and even through telephone wires so it is important to unplug all devices before storms begin.
How Lightning Affects Electronics
Lightning is made up of electrons moving at very high speeds. When a lightning strike happens, it sends out an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).
This EMP travels through wiring in homes and offices, damaging computers and other electronic devices. The EMP also affects electronic equipment that is connected to a power source through wires or a battery pack.
The voltage spike caused by lightning can cause significant damage to many types of electronic devices. The voltage spike damages the sensitive circuitry inside these devices and can even cause permanent damage if the device isn’t quickly shut off after being struck by lightning.
Read our blog here about do power strips get hot?
How Do You Protect Your Electronics During Lightning Storms?
It’s estimated that there are 1 million strikes per year in the U.S., with about 10 percent hitting structures like houses or buildings.
Even if you’re not in the vicinity of one when it hits, you can still receive electrical charges through wiring or even telephone lines — which is why you should unplug all electronics during lightning storms.
What To Do Before A Storm:
- Turn off all power strips and unplug appliances from any power source that doesn’t have its own circuit breaker. This includes TVs, DVD players, stereos and other devices with transformers attached directly to them. It may also include microwave ovens, coffeemakers and other appliances with exposed metal parts or wires that could conduct electricity during an electrical storm.
- If possible, disconnect any appliances that don’t have their own circuit breakers by removing the plug from its socket and storing it away from other plugged-in items until after the storm passes.
Here are some other helpful tips:
- If you’re concerned about the safety of your home or office building during a lightning storm, you may want to consider investing in a surge protector. These devices protect against power surges and spikes. They’re particularly useful if you work from home and need to protect your computer from damage.
- If your home has an alarm system, make sure it’s properly installed and maintained so it will function during a lightning storm. If your alarm system is connected to a central monitoring station that tracks when an alarm goes off, this information can be used by emergency responders to locate your home if necessary.
- Make sure all of your electronic devices are properly grounded so they don’t become possible targets for lightning strikes in the event of an electrical surge or spike.
Should You Turn Your Power Strip Off During a Storm?
The answer is yes.
Surges occur when there’s a sudden change in energy flow, such as when lightning strikes or a tree branch falls on a power line. The surge may travel through the electric system and damage electronics.
A surge protector acts like a protective barrier between your electronic devices and the power line. It contains metal oxide varistors, or MOVs. These MOVs absorb excess voltage and divert it away from your device so that it doesn’t get fried by the surge. A power strip doesn’t contain MOVs and thus isn’t effective at protecting your equipment from surges.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), it’s OK to leave electronics plugged into power strips as long as they’re turned off. That includes computers and other devices that can be shut down before the storm hits — which is what you should really do with them anyway.
But if you want to protect your home appliances from damage during a storm, it’s better to unplug them directly rather than through their power strips. That way, if lightning strikes nearby, it won’t go through your appliance and into your outlet where it could damage other devices connected on the same circuit.
Is It Okay to Have Electronics Plugged in During Lightning Storms?
Some people have strong opinions about whether it’s safe to keep electronics plugged in during a thunderstorm. One camp says you should unplug all devices, while the other says it’s fine as long as you’re not using them at the time of the storm.
The answer is that it depends on the device and your location.
If you’re somewhere where there are frequent lightning strikes, or if you’re in a particularly high-risk area like Florida, you should unplug your devices when it starts raining. But for most people living in the U.S., keeping electronics plugged in during a storm isn’t going to cause any problems.
But make sure your main electrical panel has surge protection built-in. Otherwise, unplug everything or install surge protectors between sockets and equipment.
Read our blog here about do power strips use electricity when turned off?