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Thread: Fun with lightning

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    E TN, near Knoxville
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    Fun with lightning

    I've had an intriguing time following a nearby lightning strike this past Monday. I wasn't home but my son said he thinks it hit it somewhere down over the hill. We couldn't find any obvious strike point.

    From the result I think it may have created two surges, one through the cable TV line and one through the ground. All wires (power, cable and ethernet) are underground here, except for the bit of Comcast cable around the outside of the house.

    Wiped out in a few milliseconds:

    One 40" tv
    A solar fence charger around the horse pasture (it had a huge "antenna" array, perfect for picking up an EMP, AND solidly grounded)
    Some GFCIs scattered around the farm (four just tripped, two were fried)
    A Comcast cable modem and two TV boxes (they gave me new equipment)
    The Asus dual band wifi router in the house
    A big Cyberpower UPS "protecting" those (dead, dead, dead)
    The Netgear wifi router in the shop (connected by underground ethernet to the router in the house)
    The motherboard in my Dell OptiPlex tower desktop in the shop. Since it was powered from a still functioning UPS I think the surge came through the underground ethernet cable from the house.
    Fortunately the memory, three SSD drives, the Nvidea GPU, dual monitors, and the rest of the computer, video, and audio equipment attached was undamaged.
    All other electronic devices around the property were fine. (Much is on one of six UPS units)

    No living things were affected.

    Dell replaced the motherboard in my shop computer yesterday. After that, because of the hardware change, the Windows boot security invalidated my login PIN and wouldn't accept my password. A complete system disk restore from my daily backup didn't help. Dell and Microsoft said there was only one solution: reinstall Win10 from scratch and reconfigure everything. I didn't imagine enjoying that too much.

    My son the tech Wizard suggested a solution: boot Linux from a thumb drive and remove the existing Win10 user password. That worked like a charm and I'm back in business, nothing lost. Me, myself, and I feel better now.

    Overall, the experience was entertaining but I'm not sure I would recommend it.

    JKJ

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    New Westminster BC
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    Wow, if that's your idea of fun, I don't think I'll play with you. Glad you're OK. Luckily for me, where we live lightening strikes are very rare.

  3. #3
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    Sorry about your losses John. We lost power Saturday for 15 hours, then it was restored, same storm that dropped a tornado in in nearby White Lake and damaged the local HD and Walmart. Then Tuesday power was off for 6 hours, no storm, likely crews working to restore power elsewhere. After that one my Yamaha surround receiver wouldn't come on. It somehow had fried the Panamax surge protector it was plugged into, surge protector light said over voltage. I also noticed one leg of my old 200 amp main panel surge protector was also no longer working. Protectors did their job, no damaged equipment.
    NOW you tell me...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Anderson View Post
    Sorry about your losses John. We lost power Saturday for 15 hours, then it was restored, same storm that dropped a tornado in in nearby White Lake and damaged the local HD and Walmart. Then Tuesday power was off for 6 hours, no storm, likely crews working to restore power elsewhere. After that one my Yamaha surround receiver wouldn't come on. It somehow had fried the Panamax surge protector it was plugged into, surge protector light said over voltage. I also noticed one leg of my old 200 amp main panel surge protector was also no longer working. Protectors did their job, no damaged equipment.
    Fortunately, the financial loss was not too great, just the bother of dealing with it. Gave me a chance to get a new whiz-bang wifi router, ordered a new circuit board for the horse fence charger, time for a new TV in my son's room anyway.

    I dread the loss of power more since I have peacock eggs in the incubator. If they get cold, say in the middle of the night when we don't notice, it would probably maim or kill the birds. I have a generator ready to go if needed.

    JKJ

  5. #5
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    John, good opportunity for a great mesh system, honestly. But one thing your situation reminded me about is that I'm considering serving my new shop building, once it's a reality, with fiber rather than copper Ethernet. It's really going to be about distance; rather, it's to provide an "electrical air gap" that will not permit any kind of surge to pass between our home and the shop via the network. While I physically unplug my CNC machine when not in use, I do not do that for the network cable.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
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    Mar 2014
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    Youngstown, Oh
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    Never any fun that's for sure. Happened here a few years back. A shed which doesn't have electricity run to it took the hit and had the siding blown off one side. Traveled to the next shed and into the welding shop and only tripped a couple breakers there. Traveled to the house and burned the surge protector for the computer but not harming any components. So other than the siding the damage wasn't too costly. Just amazed me how far it traveled.

  7. #7
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    Jan 2004
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    Lewiston, Idaho
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    John, sorry for your losses and happy to hear of your recovery!

    One has to experience the effects of a nearby lightning strike to fully appreciate it! In the early 70's I endured the effects on a mobile air traffic control center at NAS Meridian, MS. We were a couple weeks repairing the resultant damage caused by a lightning striking the ground next a to runway a quarter of a mile from where this was located.
    Ken

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    John, good opportunity for a great mesh system, honestly. But one thing your situation reminded me about is that I'm considering serving my new shop building, once it's a reality, with fiber rather than copper Ethernet. It's really going to be about distance; rather, it's to provide an "electrical air gap" that will not permit any kind of surge to pass between our home and the shop via the network. While I physically unplug my CNC machine when not in use, I do not do that for the network cable.
    What's it take to run fiber? I buried an extra 2" conduit to the shop for "just in case".

    I see there are also ethernet cable lightning surge protectors with "gas discharge tubes".

    JKJ

  9. #9
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    Same process as for copper Ethernet, John, but without the 100 meter limit. You can buy pre-terminated, burial/underground rated fiber in various lengths. Do a normal pull and coil loop any extra. You need a transceiver on each end to transition from copper Ethernet to/from fiber. There are two general types of fiber...single mode and multi-mode. The former can span much longer distances, but even multi-mode can go a LONG way. One thing to be sure of is that the transceivers have the same type of termination (plug/socket type) as is on the cable. Some transceivers put both directions on the same fiber at different wavelengths. It's a good practice to have two or more strands "just in case".
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #10
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    Nov 2007
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    NW Indiana
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    Sorry about the loss. Great reminder for backing computers up.

    So, what do you do different to avoid this in the future ?

  11. #11
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    Cambridge Vermont
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    Lightning seems to love the ash trees around me. Over the last ten or so year 3 have been hit within a 1/4 mile of my house. So far no damage. But I feel your pain. I did have the ground in the main electrical panel fail at a previous house. The only thing drawing power was the fridge so it loaded down that leg of the 240v and the other side spiked. Things like the circuit board in the garage door opener and a TV let the smoke out. The electrical code when the house was built didn't include ground rods so I added them.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Frank View Post
    Sorry about the loss. Great reminder for backing computers up.

    So, what do you do different to avoid this in the future ?
    Not a big financial loss, more of an inconvenience. If I hadn't found the method to access the computer with the replaced motherboard I would rate the inconvenience as higher.

    As for what I am doing:

    - Rechecking the grounding in all buildings. I'm adding additional ground rods just for fun. I had put three at the shop but there is only one at the house.
    - Replacing all critical GFCIs in case they were weakened (garage freezer, egg incubator in the shop).
    - Checked the grounding block on the internet/tv cable. Loosen the connectors, clean metal, apply dielectric grease, tighten.
    - Ran the cable TV line through a surge protector just before the cable modem.
    - Ordered a couple of ethernet cable surge/lightening protectors. Mostly good reviews, a couple of bad as usual, who knows, perhaps from not following instructions.
    - Plan to disconnect incoming cable lines and power/cables on storm approach.
    - Keep my daily image backup schedule on all computers. I use Macrium Reflect and rotate between multiple external drives.

  13. #13
    Lightning's hit this house 3 times, once in 1983, took out every TV, stereo and microwave in the place, and fried the data board in the only computer in the house, the Apple IIe that ran my first computerized engraving machine. Second time it hit my boat that was parked in the driveway next to the garage, probably a ricochet since the cover was burnt a bit. My mom was standing in the garage bringing in groceries when it happen, she said the garage was a shower of blue sparks. The last time was a few years ago, hit the maple tree in the front yard, which I cut down last year after it finally died. My other home of 24 years almost got hit during the same storm that hit THIS house in '83, it hit the camper in the neighbors driveway, which was only 20' from my bedroom window, burned a 20"-ish sicle-shaped path on the roof. And then in August 1991, during a phone call from the lady I met at a bar the week before who actually called me back, lightning DID hit the house. Never found where exactly, but it turned on everything in the living room that was turned OFF, including the 4 florescent tubes over the dining area. Everything remained on for several seconds after the strike. My 2 'weekend' kids were in the living room when it happened. My son described it as a laser light show going off in the living room... Been to close for comfort a few times
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE- make that FOUR now - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
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    Northern Florida
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    We get our share of lightning. Of the 6 houses on the short dirt road between us and the paved road, 3 including ours have had some damage in the last 10 years or so. We had a strike on a tree very close to the house where the lightning jumped to the buried water pipe to the garage, blowing it out inside the garage and also underground. I wasn't home but my wife could hear the water running and knew there was a problem. In what might have been my greatest success at closing the barn door BEFORE the horses got out, I had installed a shutoff where the water entered our property only a few months before. Prior to that, the only shutoff was at the far end of the crawl space under the house. There was no chance my wife could have reached that one, but she easily shut off the water and prevented what would have been a real flood in the garage.

    This website shows updated displays of ligtning strikes anywhere in the world and sometimes I find it very interesting: https://map.blitzortung.org

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    Millstone, NJ
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    Lighting struck in my last place and I said to myself wow that was close. It struck 5' from me and hit my condenser frying compressor and capacitor.

    Luckily that was it and i'm in the business so it didnt cost much.
    Was the shop computer on a surge protector? Maybe a whole house surge protector wouldnt be a bad investment.they are only $125 or so and can be installed pretty easily

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