There has been a debate for decades over whether it is safe to leave your computer on or turn it off during a lightning storm. Some people say you should turn off all electronics and unplug them; others believe you have nothing worry about. We here at Electrical Pros say if you use a little common sense, a lightning storm should not fry your computer or other electronics.
The concern over leaving a computer on during a lightning storm boils down to power surges. A power surge occurs when a current or the voltage in a power source suddenly increases without warning. The increase is abrupt and brief, which is why it’s called a power surge.
Generally, power surges are caused by faulty wiring or exterior electrical trouble such as downed power lines, but lightning can also create power surges. In fact, a power surge caused by lightning is far more intense than one caused by wiring or power lines.
Lightning and Power Surges
Wind inside a thundercloud whips together rainwater and ice crystals. This creates electricity, with the positive charge on top of the cloud and the negative charge on the bottom of it. The negative charge is attracted to ground objects and through ionized air, lightning reaches down to touch the objects.
A lightning bolt can produce amps well into the tens of thousands and voltage that exceeds 100,000. Yes, if your home’s electrical system is struck by lightning, it’s going to produce a power surge strong to wipe out your computer, other electronics, and appliances.
Even if the lightning strikes near your home rather than directly on it, you can still be hit with a power surge strong enough to do damage. Remember, electricity travels through ionized air, so it doesn’t have to be a direct hit in order for your power to surge.
But I Have Surge Protectors
No surge protector is equipped to handle a direct hit or even a hit close by. The power generated from lightning produces voltage much higher than what even the best surge protector can handle. So, should you turn off your computer during a lightning storm? Yes, and you should also unplug it.
In fact, if you really want to play it safe, you should unplug everything during a lightning storm just in case you experience a severe power surge in your home. This might not be convenient, but sometimes safety outweighs ease, and if the storm is right overhead, it behooves you to be cautious.
Should your home get struck don’t panic. Electrical Pros services Dacula, GA, and its surrounding areas and we make emergency service visits. Just call us at 770-882-2150.