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cjf

Thunder, Lightning and your audio system

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Hello,

 

I was curious to know what the majority of folks do when they have a thunder storm brewing over there area while in the middle of a jam session. Do you shut down your setup or do you soldier on thru the storm and continue enjoying the music?

 

I was always kind of curious to know if you take two homes next to each other, one that has a big amp and high end system playing and the other home having an off the shelf Best Buy special playing during a thunder storm which one would be a bigger target.

 

Does a house that draws more power from the Pole provided by your electric company make for a bigger target and results in being more likely to be struck by a lightning bolt more so than a home drawing an average amount of power?

 

My theory on it is that it makes no difference so I just keep on listening and hope for the best. I understand that mother nature can be a powerful b1tch and a lighting strike can hold an enormous amount of electrical power that can turn even the most sophisticated power conditioning setup into a smoking pile of dung but I feel we are no more susceptible than the next guy in this situation and it's nothing more than bad luck if you get hit and it melts your equipment.

 

Not sure if there are any electrical engineers or astronomer's on the forum that can offer a technical answer on this but in any case I'm curious to know what folks do in this situation.

 

Thanks

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I will usually look on the computer for radar info and see how bad it looks. If in doubt, I play it safe and turn things off. I don't know what they have done, but it seems the power company has fewer lightning surges than say 10 years ago. Still that isn't to mean no surges, much less direct or near direct strike possibilities.

 

I worked in an industry that was such that it pretty much begged to be struck and it often was. I don't know of anything that is a hundred percent protection. As for big house vs little house I doubt it is any real difference if wired and grounded the same. More like height above ground, trees, poles and etc. A neighbor on a local hilltop last year had lightning strike a huge oak tree, jump from it to a parked car, melt the tires, jumped from the center of the windshield (breaking it) and then into the house it was parked next to frying a computer and TV, and surprisingly nothing else.

 

Lightning struck the pole supplying my house once years ago while I was listening (didn't hear the storm). It fried two phones, blew fuses, but didn't damage a Carver Receiver that was driving my Acoustat Two's. Killed a microwave, and a clock radio. The pre-amp was unbothered, as was the other stuff on. That included a third phone on the same line. Lightning is just unpredictable.


And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Nice topic, cjf. Here in Bangkok, we seem to get a lot of lightning and until recently, hardly paid it any mind. Then, last week, my McIntosh 2300 preamplifier wouldn't turn on. Between the time it worked and the time I tried to turn it on two days later, we definitely had a storm or two. Thankfully, all that happened was the it blew out a fuse; however, that made me acutely aware of the potential dangers. And when the storm brewed up last night, the first thing I did was unplug my preamp and amp.

 

I have been investigating the issue of power conditioners for a few years (it always takes me forever to finally buy something) and I am totally sold on the positive contribution to the sound and especially, the preventive protection to the electrical system of PurePower's products. Essentially, they run everything off of batteries and when there is a severe problem, the batteries blow, not your system. I first heard of them on the McIntosh forum at Audio Aficionado.

 

PurePower Home

 

just my thoughts...

ron

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Years ago, when living across the road from the local swimming pool, I suffered similar damage to what Dennis described,

including a completely vaporised section of underground telephone cable .

These days I use a decent DIY surge protected powerboard, that includes several Varistors.There are also commercial versions available that even offer a warranty . e.g. This is part of the warranty.for one of the Belkin Products.

" ■ Connected Equipment Warranty: Belkin will repair or replace any equipment damaged by a surge, spike, or lightning strike while properly connected to a Belkin Surge Protector with Battery Backup, up to $50,000."

It is of course advisable to unplug valuable equipment from the mains supply when there is a nearby severe thunderstorm.

Don't forget the external TV antenna too !

Alex


How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

 

PROFILE UPDATED 26-12-2019

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I worked for PS Audio and a lot of my time was spent advising customers on system set up including power conditioning. There is no product which can ultimately protect electrical components from close lightning strikes: consider that lightning is powerful enough to fly through the air for miles and it becomes clear that even an open relay will not stop a close strikes, it will just jump the gap and fry things if it wants to.

While we expect lightning to be somewhat predictable, unfortunately, it is not, and often does not necessarily follow the path of least resistance (or so it seems, maybe lightning "knows" better than we do ;-).

If you have a serious lightning event going on, the only way to be sure any electric equipment is safe is to unplug it from the wall-other than that, a good home owners policy can be quite helpful in the event of equipment failure. Do not make the mistake of thinking any power conditioner or surge suppressor will protect you-if the component is plugged in, you are at risk.


ROON: DSD 256-Sonore opticalModule-Signature Rendu optical--Buffalo PRO or DSC-2--Ncore 400 Stereo-Focus Audio FS888-JL E-112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY AC cables, Iconoclast XLR, Iconoclast speaker, cables, Synergistic Orange & Hi Fi Tuning Supreme Cu Fuses, Dark Matter system clarifiers.    Design/Build Consultant with Sonore

 

                                                       

SONORE computer audio

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Thanks Barrows for those sobering words of warning about the impossibility of protection outside of unplugging. I think I'm going to keep things unplugged unless I'm using them, regardless of any products I buy to protect them.

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I live in North Central Texas, and we get *lots* of thunderstorms, especially this time of year. We get close lightning strikes several times per year, but I haven't had any damage until just recently.

 

We came back from running some errands (in the middle of a torrential downpour with lots of lightning) to a home full of dead electronics. Oddly, none of the surge protectors or UPS's were damaged / tripped in any way; instead, it appears the damage actually came from an electromagnetic pulse (i.e., close strike that simply transferred energy through the air instead of down the power lines). Much of my Ethernet and HDMI components were destroyed, including a Gigabit Ethernet switch and most of the attached electronics, a new Onkyo receiver, etc.

 

So even if your equipment isn't turned on, or you don't get a strike directly to the electrical system, you can still suffer damage from near-hits :/


John Walker - IT Executive

Headphone - MacMini running Roon Server > Netgear Orbi wireless > Blue Jeans Cable Ethernet > mRendu Roon endpoint > iFi Audio xDSD + iFi Audio xCAN > Focal Elegia

Home Theater - Mac Mini running Roon Server > Blue Jeans Cable HDMI > Pioneer Elite SC-81 > MartinLogan Motion series home theater speakers + M&K subwoofer

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Thanks Barrows for those sobering words of warning about the impossibility of protection outside of unplugging. I think I'm going to keep things unplugged unless I'm using them, regardless of any products I buy to protect them.

 

Just be aware that you can't always be there to unplug them. In that case , a surge protected powerboard MAY save you from all but an almost direct strike.

Alex


How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

 

PROFILE UPDATED 26-12-2019

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Sounds like it came in via cable or phone line.

 

No phone line, but cable is possible, I suppose, though none of the cable-attached devices (e.g., cable modem, cable company DVR, TiVO) were impacted. I'm just guessing about the EMP, but I read a lot about how both Ethernet and HDMI are very sensitive to EMP, and those were the only components affected, so sounded like a good theory to me ;)


John Walker - IT Executive

Headphone - MacMini running Roon Server > Netgear Orbi wireless > Blue Jeans Cable Ethernet > mRendu Roon endpoint > iFi Audio xDSD + iFi Audio xCAN > Focal Elegia

Home Theater - Mac Mini running Roon Server > Blue Jeans Cable HDMI > Pioneer Elite SC-81 > MartinLogan Motion series home theater speakers + M&K subwoofer

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Thanks for everyone's insight on this topic.

 

Ok so my house has an unused metal antenna on the roof which leads to a steel dow rod that is hammered into the ground. From what I can tell I have no wires from the antenna leading into the house. Not sure if that Dow rod is shared with the internal electrical system as a common ground though.

 

So I'm wondering if having a metal antenna on the roof is more beneficial than some would think if it has no connection points into the homes electrical system. My thought is that maybe it could be considered a sort of "Decoy" from lightning strikes to direct them straight to ground and away from the house itself?

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Thanks for everyone's insight on this topic.

 

Ok so my house has an unused metal antenna on the roof which leads to a steel dow rod that is hammered into the ground. From what I can tell I have no wires from the antenna leading into the house. Not sure if that Dow rod is shared with the internal electrical system as a common ground though.

 

So I'm wondering if having a metal antenna on the roof is more beneficial than some would think if it has no connection points into the homes electrical system. My thought is that maybe it could be considered a sort of "Decoy" from lightning strikes to direct them straight to ground and away from the house itself?

 

I have the same antenna setup which served at the time both my TV and FM tuner. I observed 2 direct hits to the mast with no damage to any of any kind to any piece of equipment. The second strike occurred while I was listening to music thinking that the storm had passed. I still unplug everything when a storm approaches.

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+1

I worked for PS Audio and a lot of my time was spent advising customers on system set up including power conditioning. There is no product which can ultimately protect electrical components from close lightning strikes: consider that lightning is powerful enough to fly through the air for miles and it becomes clear that even an open relay will not stop a close strikes, it will just jump the gap and fry things if it wants to.

While we expect lightning to be somewhat predictable, unfortunately, it is not, and often does not necessarily follow the path of least resistance (or so it seems, maybe lightning "knows" better than we do ;-).

If you have a serious lightning event going on, the only way to be sure any electric equipment is safe is to unplug it from the wall-other than that, a good home owners policy can be quite helpful in the event of equipment failure. Do not make the mistake of thinking any power conditioner or surge suppressor will protect you-if the component is plugged in, you are at risk.

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Having lived in FL since 87, lightening strike capital of the world, and in 4 different homes, I have FINALLY learned my lesson. No amount of protection ultimately protects.

 

I have finally learned. The current home I live in has no tall trees "close" to my home. My last home had tall Royal Palms fairly close, several hit by lightening, coming into my home frying many components. I now have a generator, with a huge surge protector built into the generator, with an electric cutoff, that shuts all electricity off to the home, testing ground for 45 seconds before the generator starts. Truth is the best electricity I ever get into my home, is via the generator. Switching off the main breaker to my home and allowing the power to run via my generator is the best and safest.

 

However, my ultimate advice is during severe storms, UNPLUG. Another note of caution is that static electricity loves low voltage lines like cable, phone lines, etc so you may want to unplug your ethernet cable as well.

 

When I go on vacations, I unplug all as well as my ethernet cable to my listening room.

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Everytime I take excessive precautions to try and protect against lightening strikes, I loose gear. :) That's just coincidence of course, but it can lead me to wonder sometimes...

 

We also live in Central Texas and get some incredibly vicious thunderstorms come through, usually accompanied by microbursts of pretty incredible intensity that do almost as much damage all by themselves. I have found that I get as much (or as little) damage just by leaving things plugged in and not over worrying about it. If a big enough blast comes down the line, it is going to take out the power units as well as most of the downline equipment too.

 

And there is always the annoying chance of just a monster electrical event happening anyway - lightening has struck close enough to electrify everything, including making every hair on my head stand straight out and produce a scary as hell low frequency hum that vibrated the very air in the house.

 

-Paul


Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Paul,

 

I agree. When Mother Nature has you in her sight, there is ultimately NOTHING you can do to stop her. The worst damage I ever suffered was a lightening strike where everything was unplugged. Actually, that was the second worst damage I ever suffered. The worst was when my brother in law stuffed up the toilet in my listening room that ultimately got flooded-there are some things worse than lightening and my brother-in-law is one of them.

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Use your brother in law as a lightning rod, 2 negatives make a positive...

;)


MacPro Xeon/Audirvana-ITunes/USB/W4S DAC2 SE/ADAM Delta

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Having liked in the Lightning capital of the world ( central Florida)for 53 years, if mother nature wants your equipment, then she will get to it regardless of the protection you have. I have my home protected by the Florida Power with their spec'd ground plan, their surge protectors, my internal protection by Furman and yet, mother nature came in after it it a tree and got my TV, microwave and amp. Of course the warranty plan through my power company replaced my equipment. So when mother nature comes calling with lightning which can soar to temperatures of approximately 50,000°, five times hotter than the surface of the sun, and can contain as much as 200 million volts of electricity stand back and hope your protection holds.


The Truth Is Out There

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My home was lightning struck, at least indirectly, about 10 years ago. I knew it was a close calll when I was blasted out of bed but didn't realize how close 'til next morning. It was trash day and I wheeled the can to the curb. "Why is there a shingle in the driveway" I asked myself. I turned around and saw a section of roofing blown apart where the electrical service comes in. I lost all of the delicate electonics in my house including my NAD receiver, Technics turntable, and Rotel tape deck (also, the watch on my bed stand!). I have a much more expensive system now. When I hear thunder approaching, I always unplug all components. I also unplug when I go on vacation.


Roon ROCK (Roon 1.7; NUC7i3) > Ayre QB-9 Twenty > Ayre AX-5 Twenty > Thiel CS2.4SE (crossovers rebuilt with Clarity CSA and Multicap RTX caps, Mills MRA-12 resistors; ERSE and Jantzen coils; Cardas binding posts and hookup wire); Cardas and OEM power cables, interconnects, and speaker cables

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+1 for Brick Wall surge protectors. I would not be without mine. None of the "powerline conditioners" even come close to the protection afforded by these products. Regards

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And there is always the annoying chance of just a monster electrical event happening anyway - lightening has struck close enough to electrify everything, including making every hair on my head stand straight out and produce a scary as hell low frequency hum that vibrated the very air in the house.

-Paul

 

Sorry to hear, but I must admit the picture that pop'ed in my head after reading this kept me entertained for quite a while..Thanks

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Good to get so much real life feedback regarding surge protection devices. I've always only used a basic power strip (no lights, switches, surge, etc.), with the belief that surge protection devices were not necessary, but I was never completely sure of it. Now I feel confident recommending to friends that they forgo surge protection. However, is there any credibility to the idea that surge protection can help to extend the life of a components power supply by absorbing small, everyday surges and spikes. My guess is no.

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Good to get so much real life feedback regarding surge protection devices. I've always only used a basic power strip (no lights, switches, surge, etc.), with the belief that surge protection devices were not necessary, but I was never completely sure of it. Now I feel confident recommending to friends that they forgo surge protection. However, is there any credibility to the idea that surge protection can help to extend the life of a components power supply by absorbing small, everyday surges and spikes. My guess is no.

 

Actually, yes, this is true to an extent. Most surge protection devices use MOVs, and these do a pretty good job of absorbing smaller everyday overvoltages. But one must be aware that MOVs are sacrificial devices, which will wear out over time (depends on how many, how big hits they take) and the way they are employed in most circuits one will not know when the MOVs are worn out. Many components these days also have a simple MOV surge protection device built in to the power supply as well: these are pretty easy to spot, they look like a round disc with two leads, often blue or brick red in color. They can be paralleled for better capabilities, and sometimes one will see a stack of them in better devices, there are also "good" MOVs and "bad" MOVs. With a really big surge they may blow up, leaving a big mess behind when they do (weird powderey residue).

Note, that some people report that MOVs are not good for sonics... I generally leave them out of my system for this reason, but many, many high end power conditioners use them for surge protection. They are best at dealing with smaller overvoltages.


ROON: DSD 256-Sonore opticalModule-Signature Rendu optical--Buffalo PRO or DSC-2--Ncore 400 Stereo-Focus Audio FS888-JL E-112 sub-Nordost Tyr USB, DIY AC cables, Iconoclast XLR, Iconoclast speaker, cables, Synergistic Orange & Hi Fi Tuning Supreme Cu Fuses, Dark Matter system clarifiers.    Design/Build Consultant with Sonore

 

                                                       

SONORE computer audio

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