Lightning and powering down

I know this subject has been done many times before but I can’t find the exact answer I’m looking for in the search function. That might be due to me not being all that tech savvy, missing it “power reading” or it might even not have been touched on.

I don’t think I’ve ever needed to power down so often due to lightning or the threat of it. I follow lightning.org and have a lightning tracker installed on my phone and also on two tablets. This app allows you to set a radius around your location in order to get notifications when strikes occur within the set radius. I have the radius set differently on each device - 30 miles for an early warning, 20 miles so I can see it’s getting closer and finally 10 miles at which point I power down.

This morning I awoke to a notification that lightning strikes had been detected within a 10 mile radius, but I don’t exactly know how close as I neither heard anything or saw a flash. I’m a super heavy sleeper and on one occasion after a night shift slept through the arrival of a fire engine and firemen running up and down the stairs tending to a chimney fire …

So my question is, at what point do you decide you need to power down for lightning?

Regards,
Steve O.

I guess you are in the U.S and are looking at doppler radar weather pics etc. Not sure there is an easy answer as a lightning strike many miles away could still affect your gear.
Not a-great rule, but if i can see the lightning, even if i hear nothing i shut down. Any threat, overnight, turned off. Not sure this helps?

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G’day Steve,

Our mains are underground, and I do not bother. Even when we lived overhead mains via telegraph poles here in Oz, it has never been a problem in ten years or more. Refrigerators are another problem with brownouts where there is no active voltage on the live wire and a voltage present on the neutral conductor with respect to earth.

I hope this makes sense. We lost our fridge about two months ago in a severe storm, though insurance paid for a new one and for the lost food. Stereo never suffered a blimp as it powers down and then goes to mute on power up.

I do run over-voltage protection with the stereo, not to be confused with surge protection.

Warm regards,

Mitch in Oz.

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Perhaps the answer is to stop looking at the tracker and not worry. What’s the worst that can happen? The stereo gets damaged. It’s only a stereo. You just claim on the insurance.

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I do almost exactly what Gazza does, except I don’t need to actually see lightning. If I hear thunder, I power down. I find I’m checking the weather fairly regularly for grass cutting etcetera, so knowing when to shut it down overnight is easy.
The TV and modem are plugged into a power box with circuit protection, so I leave it plugged in. We did get hit one night and the power box looked after it, but the box was non-functional for a few days and I finally had to give it a heavy hit to get the contacts to disengage. The lightning must have fused them together slightly.
Anyway, unplugging makes sense.

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We did have one incident where, and this was reported on the local TV news, a plane flying overhead was hit by a lightning bolt and then the strike grounded less than a mile from my house. The hifi was unaffected, which helped ease my concerns around the proximity of strikes, but I would still always power down for a storm.
If you could simply replace everything by claiming on the insurance that would be great. However, some of the items are no longer available. Also, while writing this reply I’ve just had this thought; if the insurers knew the manufacturer instructs to power down for electrical storms in the product manual would they then not pay up?

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I remember @Simon-in-Suffolk took a hit a few years ago…….and it was a strike some way from his house?

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When I’m aware of an electrical storm in the vicinity, whether through weather forecast or hearing/seeing, I disconnect all cables between hifi and house cabling (simply powering down makes no appreciable difference to risk of damage, and any cable is a route, including ethernet) I do that before going away on holiday, but not when just out for the day etc unless storms are expected… If I forget, or am away from home as a storm happens, I don’t fret over it, hoping that between them through luck and insurance either nothing will happen or I’ll be covered, though I’d hope to avoid an insurance claim as it inevitably would end up costing me, money wise both the excess and likely increased future premiums, plus probably hassle, and possibly dissatisfaction or more cost if they don’t truly replace like with like. (I see insurance as for the worst case: far, far better than nothing, but better to avoid the happening in the first place as it is most unlikely to return me to exactly where I was before with no loss.)

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Not when you’ve got a beloved Naim CD player which can’t be repaired or replaced! I want my CDX2 to outlast me

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If severe weather is forecast I’ll shut off the audio gear and disconnect it from the wall. Unlike other I value my TIME. I’d rather spend 1 minute to disconnect than hours and hours dealing with the insurance company… Then more of my time replacing the damaged gear. Of course we all place different value on our time.

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I’m pretty sure everyone knows that HH’s post was absurd advice.

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Hi @Gazza yes it was about a hundred yards away… it was sufficiently close that we heard the air fizz with the flash just prior to the immensely loud crack of thunder. Even though the mains is fed overhead, that seemed fine other than all the RCDs tripped, and I had disconnected some high value equipment. It was the internet feed that seemed to suffer, it took out my router, a switch, and the ethernet port of one of my Macs connected to that switch.

I had disconnected high value devices from the mains as the storm was getting closer with many flashes and loud thunder only a second or two after… clearly it was passing over us. Normally I don’t disconnect things unless the storm is almost right on us.

If you are to get a hit however, unless your building or electronic devices are specially designed , you may likely get damage from the lightning EMP even with devices disconnected from the mains.

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My friend suffered a direct strike many years ago. Destroyed his high dollar computer, stereo equipment, TVs, and all electrical devices which were plugged in the outlets. His hair was frizzed out for a couple of days and his hands tingled. He had to fight with his insurer as a few things were vintage and not easily replaceable. I always power down and unplug my system when lightning is close. Not worth the risk!

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And power down is not enough, disconnect and unplug all leads like interconnects and speaker cables, otherwise you are incurring a risk. This is when ground shorting plugs on inputs are useful.
I do this on my sensitive radio equipment, but not my hifi.
Simon

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Also Ethernet cables, especially if using to a copper phone line as internet connection.

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I’m not sure why it’s absurd. How often do we hear of people’s hifi being fried by lightning because they haven’t unplugged it? To unplug if there’s an actual storm overhead is good sense obviously, but following trackers and unplugging ‘just in case’ is surely paranoia?

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I actually used to feel the same as you regarding this, then two years back, for some reason, I did unplug my Naim kit but left the TV and everything plugged into a power box. We got hit and the power box was fried for a while but it did protect the TV.
Naim always advises plugging into the wall, otherwise I would use a power box for the Naim units. And no, I don’t use storm trackers either, but I unplug sometimes if I’m going away for the night.

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We unplug the Nova if we go away, but not the TV or the Qbs. I imagine that being hit once makes you more wary.

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I only “follow” trackers when I’ve had a notification on the app that there’s been a strike close by, or if the weather forecast that follows the BBC news has predicted it. So, in effect, I monitor the proximity of a storm when I’m aware of it as opposed to searching for storms.

As for it being paranoia, I hardly think so. Taking precautions to protect equipment that can’t be replaced “like for like” (and also cost nearly twice as much as my car to boot) is good practice in my book.

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Recent pic from a naim user
Kit switched off but plugged in

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