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My computer got struck by lightning...

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by eng45ine, Oct 13, 2005.

  1. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    during a passing thunderstorm and my new computer is scheduled to be delivered this Saturday. I obviously did not have an adequate surge protector in this unfortunate instance. So, what do you recommend that I purchase to avoid having to buy a new computer each year? A huge surge protector? A UPS? The guys at work favor a UPS because you also get a battery back-up, but I want to get your opinion first. Thanks in advance for your input.
  2. I have all of my machines at home on UPSes. I use three big ones.

    They are kind of a pain in that you have to replace the batteries every couple of years, but it sure seems to help keep the machines healthy.

    They are not only protected from lightning, but also damage during brown or blackouts. Or surges, etc.

    I don't have everything on them as capacity costs. Just the machines themselves and a few of the monitors.
  3. Ken-L

    Ken-L Guest

    Tip of the iceberg....

    A close hit by lightning just can't be protected against.....I have seen rows and rows of batteries, surge protectors, lightning arrestors and cabinets of equipment fried by lighning - it just jumps everything in it's path.

    Other "normal" surges and brown-outs can be helped by a good UPS system. I've used units by Best Technologies for many years, they are not available retail, but other top end systems will do a good job.

    The other factor to consider is how long you need your system to stay up during a power failure.

    This is an oversimplification of the issues.....
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 13, 2005
  4. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Thank you both for taking the time to offer some personal opinion. I will probably go with a UPS which you, and my co-workers, say is an adequate solution to brown-outs and surges. Ken, I understand your point that lightning can probably fry equipment even if it is protected well. I am going to be more vigilant and turn my computer off, even disconnect it from the UPS, when real bad storms are forecasted. It may be overkill, but I had a very nice machine only ten months old get juiced. I will try to have it repaired if that can be done at a reasonable cost.
  5. Baywing


    Feb 22, 2005
    CT USA
    I use a UPS with built in surge protection, but as has been said, nothing is going to protect from a close lightning strike. When you disconnect, be sure to pull the plug on the phone line or whatever internet connection you use, they are equally vulnerable. Work uses APC back-ups, I got one for home as well. About $40 in Staples and works fine. I also use it when cleaning my D100, use the AC power supply and the UPS, no worries if the power drops when the swab is inside!
  6. Tosh


    May 6, 2005
    You might want to check with Electromen on this issue. I believe that he's an electrician.

    I have a whole house surge protector tied into my electrical panel. It's supposed to protect every circuit in the house from lightning strikes and voltage surges. Costs about $50-70 dollars, plus installation by an electrician.

    Just in case, I still also use my previously-purchased surge protector units.

  7. Brian


    Apr 30, 2005
    I believe APC has Equipment Protection for up to certain amount for different UPS and Surge Protectors. That's some kind of insurance that I will never want to use but nice to know I am protected.
  8. PGB


    Jan 25, 2005
    PM sent Frank!

    I really like APC for backup power supplies. I really like this one for the money.


    I use this model on all my computers at GigaParts.

    What kind of computer did you have. A name brand or a white box pc?

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 13, 2005
  9. MontyDog


    Jan 30, 2005
    #1064 - You have an error in your SQL syntax;
  10. I know very little. But apart from surge protection, how about a lightning rod? We live in apartment buildings and most of them have rod installed.
  11. Ok I saw my name mentioned, so here goes.

    Now that I know how many engineers and tech heads there are in this group, I feel a little nervous. :eek: 

    What's the best Lightning Protection? Lightning rods on your roof like Ben Franklin designed. Lightning attractors spread along each high point and gable with 1/0 braided copper interconnecting each to ground rods at all corners of the house. This must be installed by a certified person. If not installed correctly it could cause more damage than good. With this you still need surge protection.

    One of the most important items is to have a good grounding system for your electric panel. I don't know the codes outside the U.S., but the National Electric Code requires two sources of grounding electrode each connected to the Neutral (power company ground) at the main panel.

    All houses must have two 8ft ground rods driven at least 6 ft apart and a
    Second source of grounding electrode which includes:

    A: copper water line (or other metal) coming into the house at least 10 ft long - in all cases the cold water lines should be grounded to the service even if plastic feeds the house.
    B: steel casing of a water well.
    C: re-bar in concrete footings
    D: 25 ft of #4 copper laying in concrete footing or other concrete
    E: Structural Steel if bolted to concrete, usually commercial buildings
    F: If none of the above are available, drive a third ground rod.

    Surge protection at the main panel in essential, Surge protection for phone and CATV (cable) is also available. If you have any type of tower for an antenna like tv or radio, make sure this is grounded according to the manufacturer.

    For computer, you guys are right on the money with using a good UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply)

    If you take a direct strike, it will still cause damage.

    I had surge protection at the main panel on a house which was hit by lightning. Lightning hit the power pole which also fed five houses.
    The face of the surge was blown across the room and the insides smoked. The owners lost one older TV. The other four houses lost almost evertything. In other words the surge did it's job.

    Good Main panel surge protection starts at around $50 and goes up. Anything less than that is a waste of time. Some Power utilities offer surge protection at the meter and these are good quality.

    Some surge protection comes with an insurance policy covering $10,000 in damage. Read the policy, it covers only white appliances. I called and asked "What are white appliances?" Any appliance which does not have an electronic circuit board. In other words maybe a toaster.

    -have a good ground system for your service
    -have surge protection on the main panel
    -use UPS
    -If you live in an area prone to lightning invest in lightning rods.

    Florida is the Lightning strike capitol of the world.

    I once saw St. Elmo's fire. The area was hit with so much Lightning that it could not absorb any more. The last strike sent a ball of fire (lightning) jumping and bouncing all around until it found a place to ground, pretty wide.

    Hope this helps, Greg
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 13, 2005
  12. Tosh


    May 6, 2005
    Hi Greg,

    I'm the one who mentioned your electrician status after seeing your reply in the "What do you do for a living" post.

    After reading your excellent discussion of this potentially devastating problem, I'm glad I dragged you into the post. You've provided a great summary of how best to protect our little castles. I'm sure your words will be very helpful to a great many folks. Thanks!

  13. I forgot to mention that Lightning arrestors should also be added to the main panel. There is a difference between surge and lightning arrestors. Both should be installed. Lightning arrestors are inexpensive, as low as $20 and do a good job.

    The technical end of this can be discussed if you wish. These are both rated by clamping voltage and Juoles The closer the clamping voltage is to 120/240 the better. The higher the Juoles the better.

    Any discussion of electrical should also include safety. If you're not comfortable taking the cover off a panel, hire someone who certified. Bringing a bare copper ground wire into a live panel can be deadly. Even if the Main Breaker is off, the wires coming form the utility are still live.

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