General discussion

Cooked equipment after a storm, how to prevent it?

Cooked equipment after a storm, how to prevent it in the future?

Returned home from a brief vacation to find both my cable modem and my relatively new Netgear router had lost their internet capability. According to my ISP there was a serious storm with plenty of thunder and lightning while we were gone that cooked a lot of equipment. (Nothing else was cooked for us which I attribute [perhaps incorrectly] to using uninterruptible power supplies for critical equipment.) The internal network was fine. My questions are:

1. Is this common?
2. If it is, then how do I protect our replacement equipment?
3. Does moving to a fiber-based ISP (right to the house) change things?
4. How do I know whether a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) is still providing protection?

Thank you in advance for your recommendations and advice.

-- Submitted by Michael G.

Post was last edited on July 11, 2019 4:46 PM PDT

Discussion is locked

Reply
Follow
Reply to: Cooked equipment after a storm, how to prevent it?
PLEASE NOTE: Do not post advertisements, offensive materials, profanity, or personal attacks. Please remember to be considerate of other members. If you are new to the CNET Forums, please read our CNET Forums FAQ. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Reporting: Cooked equipment after a storm, how to prevent it?
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Comments
- Collapse -
Ground everything

I'm not an electrician or an expert…

Often the ISP installer (or yourself) will neglect to ground everything properly. That's the first step in protection. The biggest problem I saw when I first moved into a new house we had built and with friends' homes. The coaxial shielding is designed to be a ground, but it won't do any good if the splitters and entry points are not actually grounded properly. That little hole with a screw in it in the splitter is for putting a ground wire, not for decoration. Likely outside or in your electrical closet is the ground pole, if you have coaxial outside, consider splitting it and getting a male-male connector that lets you ground it. Just make sure to use water resistant connectors if it's outside. Might sound stupid, but make sure the ground post actually goes to ground. Don't assume it does and don't connect ground wires to water pipes that some people will do.

Now the prep work is done, surge protection will come in handy. Even if the surge protector doesn't entirely protect your equipment, will lessen the amount of electrical surge that connected equipment will receive. I think most electronics are designed for some variation in power supply these days so be fine if you use a surge protector since likely electrical surges might jump the breaker first and the surge protector should theoretically sacrifice itself to do the rest.

For a UPS, most UPS run their power through the battery; I'm sure there is way to test them, but I don't personally know how short of maybe using an oscilloscope; I have two APC pure-sine ones that are more than ten years old seen through a couple surges and are still working great to this day. I understand the basic mechanics of my own UPSes, and they operate by passing all AC power through the batteries [in DC current], then are converted back to AC for your equipment, so I assume if they were not longer protecting it would be just stop working.

As for fiber, while fiber is non-conductive, the ONT that the fiber connects to requires electrical power so still make sure all the parts are grounded properly to protect from the electric grid.

- Collapse -
Surge arresters

In addition to making sure all grounds are solid and actually go to a good ground, install a whole house surge arrester. That should protect your house from anything waltzing down the powerline but wont do anything for something on the coax itself.

Be advised that if you suffer a direct strike NOTHING will protect you, there is too much energy involved.

- Collapse -
You'll want a lightning arrester

There's a difference

- Collapse -
Lighting strike

Sounds like your ISP suffered a lighting strike that destroyed your modem and router. Its not that common for this to happen since the ISP usually has very could protection from Lighting strikes and such. The fact that nothing else in your home got fried like tv's and such indicates the problem is not with the Electric Service in your home. A surge suppressor on the ac outlet would not have helped. They do make surge suppressors for the coaxial cable. You could purchase this. The surge suppressor would need to be grounded. Lucky every plug in you home has a ground.

- Collapse -
Depends Where You Live

In Southern California, we get electrical storms 1-2 times a year. If you live in Florida, you get many more. A surge protector is a must. Some suggest a whole-house system, which is fine if lightning or other electrical surges can damage not only computer and network equipment, but appliances as well. If you are just looking at your own computing/network equipment, at least a good surge protector is a must. None of your equipment should be plugged directly into the wall. If you are really concerned with electrical outages, you may want to consider a battery backup system, but these can be costly too.. If your surge protector supports it, some will allow you to connect telephone lines and/or network connections. Most ISPs use FIBER somewhere in their network so an electrical problem at the ISP can't cause any damage to your home equipment. Fiber does NOT conduct electricity. For your question on a fiber-to-the house connection, I'd ask your ISP where does their fiber end and coaxial metal begin. Sure, fiber all they way to the house would help. I don't have that but the coax starts here underground. We don't have any utilities above ground.

For your last question: what do you call a USP? is that a typo? ISP? UPS?

If you meant ISP, most of them use fiber so there is nothing electrical up to the point that coaxial cable takes over. So protection??? If you meant UPS, UPS is a good idea but, to answer in terms of your question, there are usually test buttons on the device but the best way is to hook the thing to your computer via a USB cable and run their software. It can periodically test and produces a log. You're in charge of how you want to test, and how often. One way to test a UPS is to just pull out it's power cord from the wall and see if it goes dark or just sits there and beeps. Plug in a lamp for that test, not your computer.

- Collapse -
I should've caught that but I'm pretty sure it is UPS.

I went and edited it. Thanks Howie.

- Collapse -
That's OK

Getting as old as I am, I get three-letter things a bit jumbled at times. UPSes can be fun devices with all their settings and features but they are expensive. I also get a lot of flack saying this, but using UPSes seem to use more power, even if the devices are turned off. They do something called "float charging". Users of UPS's should just do some studies. Being in California, I'm leaning toward good quality surge protectors. They are good, but, if they do their 'protection thing', they may need immediate replacement.

- Collapse -
We have fiber and yeah, you can get hit

the lightning hit right where the fiber converts at the wall. It may have just been the RF that damaged it, but UPS is an uninterrupted power supply and they normally have ratings for arresting lightning. The also give you time to shut down in a power outage with battery backup.

- Collapse -
Yes, But That's The "Metal" Part

Yes, where fiber converts to a "conductor" you can be hit. I was pointing out that, if the ISP gets hit and the connection to your home is fiber, fiber is light and not electrical. But at your house, if the last few feet is wire and not fiber, you can get hit, as you mentioned.

- Collapse -
lets see

1. yep
2. you cannot. just make sure you have good insurance. If you live in an area with a lot of lightning, then check with your local insurance and see what they recommend. might even get discounts if you follow their suggestions.
3. imo, there will be no difference since lightning can hit the switching station and follow the line to your box outside the house to your devices.
4. I am assuming you mean ups. one way to find out if the ups is still working is to go to the switch box and turn off the power to the outlet it is plugged in. if it is still working whatever is plugged into it should still be on.

the reality is, NOTHING will protect you from lightning. It has a mind of its own and takes many paths when it strikes. never know what will survive.

- Collapse -
A coupla notes

I don't think it's common. I know one person who lost a Tivo and a couple of other electronics to a lightning strike. I've only heard of two or three other people on busy forums and blogs who have actually reported it happening to them.

One blogger was in a neighborhood where a drunk knocked over a power pole that dropped a high voltage line onto the neighborhood lines. Caused a huge amount of damage to electronics all through the neighborhood. This blogger had UPS' for his computers. For other electronics in the house, some were on inexpensive surge protectors. His anecdotal evidence is that everything plugged into a UPS or surge suppressor survived, and everything that wasn't was fried.

One thing to know about surge suppressors is that they wear out. They continue to work fine as extension cords. But, they're useless as surge suppressors. It doesn't take a single huge surge to do that. A series of smaller surges will have the same effect.

Therefore, any surge suppressor plugged into a square wave UPS suffers the same type of small insults. Therefore, they're quickly useless as a surge suppressor. These should be marked, so nobody will try to rely on them. Luckily, modern UPS' produce a sine wave output, and therefore are safe to use with surge suppressors.

As for entry through the ISP cable, it depends on where the fiber terminates. If it terminates at your house, then any lightning that hits it is basically hitting the house itself, anyway. If it terminates at the curb, and copper runs from there to several houses, then a hit on any of those houses could be a route into your house. There used to be surge suppressors that included coax and telephone connectors, to block those. I don't know if they can handle today's high speed connections. Some may also include Ethernet connectors, to isolate your cable modem from the rest of your network for the same purpose.

One thing I've started doing is writing the date on each surge suppressor when I plug them in, so I can keep track. Then, on the Daylight Stupid Time clock changes, I pick a room and replace the suppressors in that room. That way, every few years I cycle through my surge suppressors, to keep them fresh.

I also have some old square wave UPS'. I'm going to start replacing them with newer sine wave devices.

- Collapse -
Sine wave UPS prices

I was under the mistaken impression that sine wave UPS' had come down in price to that of the old square wave devices. Turns out, I was mistaken. The sine wave devices are 3-5x more expensive than a comparably-sized square wave UPS.

Up to you to decide how important the price difference vs square wave is to you. Surge suppressors are pretty inexpensive. Personally, I'm fine with sacrificing one and turning it into an extension cord. No need to swap it out, since the next one will also automagically be converted to an extension cord.

- Collapse -
Climate change and appliance change

The weather worldwide is getting worse in general and more severe when bad weather hits. There are lots of great suggestions already posted that list things to protect your computer and network gear (grounded power lines, UPS, individual or whole house surge protection, etc). But you should also know that all appliances are more susceptible today to power surges because of the electronics that are now included. Things like clothes washers, dryers, dish washers and refrigerators are more vulnerable than ever before. I lost a refrigerator recently due to a power surge where no lightning was involved! Assume that all appliances will eventually be vulnerable until the manufacturers build in surge protection (hopefully that will come). So my recommendation would be to use individual surge protectors for every appliance or a whole house surge protector.

- Collapse -
Electrical Surges, Spikes and Lightning

Lightning and electrical surge damage is a common problem with electronics in general. The path of destruction is often difficult to determine but in your case it sounds like the surge came through the Internet cable from the street, rather than your power lines, seeing as you only lost your Modem and router however I am surprised you did not lose other items such as TV’s and TV Cable Boxes but there could have been some latent damage to these other devices which may not show up until a later date.

There are many Electrical paths for electrical surges/spikes to enter a home:

• Old Copper Telephone lines
• Cable Lines for TV, Phone and Internet
• Standard home Electrical Power Lines
• Underground Dog Fences
• Underground Sprinkler Systems
• Landscape Lighting Systems(Wired, Not Solar)


Lightning Surges/Spikes can be in the form of a local lightning strike, one that is several blocks away or even miles away that travel through your power lines, Telephone lines or Cable lines. Electrical Surges and Spikes can also come from a close lightning strike that travels down a tree or other object and then across your lawn finding a home in buried electrical lines, dog fence wiring or sprinkler systems. There are so many, many factors that dictate how lightning will actually travel but in general it normally takes the path of least resistance. In many cases a close lightning strike may simply result in a damaging surge in home wiring due to induction rather than a direct connection.

Not all electrical surges are due to lightning strikes - I have run into several issues where the Power company has made a mistake when replacing a distribution transformer up on the telephone pole and connected a home or series of homes and offices up to the wrong tap on a transformer sending higher than normal voltage down the line thus blowing out pretty much everything plugged into an outlet. Other surges can come about when you have lost power and a surge is generated when the power is suddenly turned back on.

FIOS vs. CABLE Internet – Both Cable and DSL internet are far more susceptible to surges/spikes than Fiber Optic systems such as FIOS since electrical surges and spikes do not travel down glass fiber used in Fiber Optic Systems. So changing to a FIOS system would eliminate this one possible path of destruction but still does not eliminate surges and spikes that travel through your electrical system. So it could be a step in the right direction to reduce your risk.

THE BOTTOM LINE – I highly recommend installing the following (these are just examples of products and not an endorsement of any specific product):

1. Whole house Surge Protector that installs at your breaker panel.
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Square-D-80-kA-Home-Electronics-Protective-Device-HEPD-HEPD80/203540660

2. I also recommend installing individual UPS and/or Surge Protectors on all electronic equipment.
https://www.amazon.com/APC-11-Outlet-Protector-SurgeArrest-P11U2/dp/B017VXU6GG/ref=sr_1_8?crid=MF84YE9SRKK3&keywords=surge+protector+power+strip&qid=1562460979&s=gateway&sprefix=surge+protector%2Caps%2C138&sr=8-8

3. Surge Suppressor for Cable lines.
https://www.amazon.com/TII-Broadband-Satellite-Lightning-Protector/dp/B0016AIYU6/ref=sr_1_4?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI6_X0i_ig4wIVmksNCh2Egg3wEAAYASAAEgIk0_D_BwE&hvadid=241900974955&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9001879&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t1&hvqmt=b&hvrand=8361801663431178580&hvtargid=kwd-12597107&hydadcr=24633_10399728&keywords=cable+surge+protector&qid=1562438263&s=gateway&sr=8-4

4. Surge Suppressor for Network Lines.
https://www.amazon.com/Qooltek-Ethernet-Protector-Lighting-Protection/dp/B00UYXRDU8/ref=sr_1_6?crid=587LM8T970PO&keywords=cat+5+surge+protector&qid=1562460783&s=gateway&sprefix=Cat+5+surge+%2Caps%2C138&sr=8-6

5. Surge Suppressor for Telephone Lines.
https://www.amazon.com/Tripp-Lite-Network-Protector-DTEL2/dp/B0000512ZX/ref=sr_1_8?keywords=PHone+line+surge+protector&qid=1562460854&s=gateway&sr=8-8

NOTE: Some surge protected power strips also contain protection for Phone line, network and cable connections depending on the make and model. Also, surge suppressors do not have an indefinite life and need to be replaced every few years.

WARNING: All of these measures help protect equipment from minor surges and electrical spikes but there is little you can do about a direct lightning strike and all the surge suppressors in the world will not prevent damage in this case.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO TO REDUCE THE LIKELYHOOD OF DAMAGE?


UNPLUG AND DISCONNECT
- If you are warned of a major thunder storm approaching it can help prevent damage by unplugging the power and disconnecting telephone, cable and Ethernet cables from all equipment. Simply turning off devices is not really enough.

POWER OUTAGE - If you experience a power outage for whatever reason, I recommend unplugging all power to sensitive electronics before the power is restored. Once the power has been restored and you feel that it is stable and not going to flashing back off and then on again, you can then plug all your devices back in.

Dana
Wayland Computer

- Collapse -
When going on vacation....

When going on vacation, unplug everything. Most responses apply to 24/7 protection, and they are correct. But when you are at home, you can easily unplug stuff when a storm is near. That's not so easy when you are away. So before you go, unplug. This also stops hackers from getting onto your wireless when you are away.

By the way, my coworker has internet through the phone cable. There wasn't a storm but he got a huge surge of power through their lines. He lost 2 large tvs, fancy receiver, internet, and other electronics that were hooked up to their system. If it was hooked up, it got fried. The company denied any responsibility so he was stuck.

So it's not just cable-based connections that can affect equipment. I don't know about fiber optics, but USB protection is good for any system, anywhere. We get quick power blips frequently, and it takes about 15 minutes to reboot the cable DVR. So we have our stuff hooked up not only for large surges but small blips as well.

Susan

- Collapse -
Insurance !
>> The company denied any responsibility so he was stuck. <<
Your friend's equipment *may* be covered by homeowner's insurance policy.
(I have NO idea if any sort of renters policy would apply).

If they had a homeowners policy, which covers **replacement** cost, depending on how their specific Policy is written, they're covered for lighting damage or power-surge damage, and, perhaps, both.

I mentioned replacement cost since for a few $ difference/year, on, say a $1,500 TV that's age 2, insurance for Replacement cost might get you $1,000 -given price dropped-.....but, "Actual Cash Value" insurance (ACV or depreciated value) might get you only $350.
Check with your Agent / Insurance company, on what you're covered for and $ difference Replacement -v- ACV. Best to do this before any damage occurs, so you'll know what cause you can claim for - was it a Surge or a Lightning strike that caused the loss? Who can know?

.

Post was last edited on July 13, 2019 10:26 AM PDT

- Collapse -
Short answer - you can reduce not prevent

If the damage is truly caused by a lightning strike, the only prevention tactic is to disconnect equipment from both electric supply and all networks. All the suggestions for putting additional hardware in front of a connected device will certainly help to a point. Think of it this way... If lightning can travel literally miles through air before striking the earth - how do you expect any surge absorbing gizmo to prevent a direct strike from jumping a fraction of an inch inside that gizmo?
The better surge protection devices come with not warranties, but insurance policies. Make sure you read the fine print carefully and understand exactly what you must do to successfully submit a claim and decide for yourself if it is worth the hassle.
Homeowner's/renter's insurance will typically cover lightning strike damage to equipment - subject to deductibles and other limitations. Bottom line, the less risk you are willing to cover with your own wallet, the higher the cost of the policy.
I do use good surge protection equipment myself, knowing my gear could still be fried, and to keep my insurance rates reasonable also know I may have to dig into my own wallet to some extent.

- Collapse -
I don't think it is lightning

Most likely, it was a power spike. If it was a lightning strike the damage would have been to much more than your modem and router. And since you state that the rest of the installation was protected by a UPS, I am inclined to believe that a power surge was the culprit.

Put the replacement components (modem, router) on UPS as well. Makes sense in any case if you want to be able to maintain your internet connection (for a while) during a power outage (long enough to finish what you are doing.)

In the meantime, until you get the replacement equipment, you may be able to use your cellphone as a Wifi hotspot. I used it yesterday with my laptop while an electrician cut the power to the house. My wireless plan provides that feature.

- Collapse -
Always use a tiered defense.

You got many good suggestions. Start off with verifying your ground. I had a customer once who was getting 70 volts to his CASE. Not good. A good ground is critical. Fiber was another good suggestion. Beyond that, if you can afford it, use several devices in a chain. The whole house surge suppressor is a good start BUT, the entire house power is passing through it. It might live through something your computer WON'T live through. I'd add a dedicated UPS with built in surge suppression, followed by a power strip with surge suppression. Make sure each of them has the capacity to provide a serious defense. A cheap power strip with a single tiny MOV (metal oxide varistor) will dampen a little of the surge. The more surge suppression capacity you have the safer you are. The UPS and power strip should both have surge suppression ratings on them. The higher the rating the better. Lastly, you might consider a wireless switch to plug it all into. If you're at work or on a vacation and you hear a storm is headed toward your home, use your cellphone to shut the switch down if you have left your system on.

- Collapse -
Lucky

I am lucky and have fiber to the house. Before with cable, I had lost several modems routers due to power surges. Here are some steps to lessen your problem.
1, a online ups is expensive, but isolates the actual house ac power from the equipment, whereas a regular ups passes house power directly to the equipment until a power failure. Go with an online for best protection.
2, Most probably do not, but my power company installed a whole house surge unit, one that they unplug the meter, plug this unit in, then plug the meter back into the surge unit. If not avaliable, plenty of other wire in units help.
3, as many others have stated, there are coax surge suppressors, the cheap ones just screw in, the better ones have a place to connect the ground wire too. Polyphaser is what we use on communication equipment,
https://www.polyphaser.com/f-type-f-f-surge-suppressor-protector-rf-coax-series-75-ohm
4, Run all grounds to ONE LOCATION! The service entrance ground! A lot of people decide its easier to drive another ground rod at the other end of the house, seperate from the house ground, this is asking for equipment to be destroyed, as you have now created a ground differential.
I see this in a lot of dish install's, they drive(or not) a ground rod by the dish. Now all the coax's are grounded at the dish, and at your equipment, which is grounded to the house ground, again, a ground differential.

- Collapse -
"Ground everything" is not the proper approach but close

I had a neighbor who called me over to his house after a storm. Most everything on his network was burned up.

We spent time diagnosing what worked and what did not. As time went on it was more and more obious that the Cable modem passed the lightning strike from the cable on the street to his entire network, burning up a multi-function printer, switches, wireless router, etc. Even some TVs in his home had burned up. Luckily that did not include the big flat screen in the Living room.

There were many UPSs, and Surge suppressors of many good brands instaled throughout. Also remember though, a surge supressor is only as good as he ground it is connected to. If you have no "real" grounded plugs like 3 prong plugs on old 2 conductor wiring, a surge supressor does NOTHING.

He had so innocently connected the devices one by one and assumed that all would be fine His Internet came from a cable provider that did not properly ground the cable line. This also meant that he often had "hum bars" on some analog channels only on his main TV. This was due to the lack of proper ground on the cable and small voltages travelling though his TV to the 3 prong plug ground. This can also affect digital channels but is less obvious what the cause is.

Then came the lightning strike!


1) In North America there is a requirement to ground the Cable at the point of entry to the home. You can use a Splitter, tap or Grounding block. It does not matter, as long as it is grounded. You will need n further grounding on the cable line and in fact is probably undesirable. Once you do this there is no need to ground each splitter as another poster here claims. That ground is carried on the shield of the coax to any device connected to the coax. This will theoretically pass the lightning strike from the any part of the coaxial line to ground.

2) In North America it is also mandatorry that a copper phone line have a Lightning supressor that is grounded. This theoretically will pass a lightning strike to the phone / DSL line to the ground.


3) Electrical grounds are also used for a device with a three prong plug.

4) Quality of grounds is also an issue. There are some that will tell you that grounding to a cold water pipe is an acceptable method when in fact it is NOT. A good ground is 8 feet long . wiring directly to the shield of a coax (by way of grounding block) or a Lightning supressor on copper Phone/DSL line. https://www.wikihow.com/Install-Ground-Rods. Most DSL or Cable providers will not install a proper ground rod. It is common to often see these services fgrounded incorrectly to a cold water pipe. They get away with it because it is 'Low voltage" but that does not take into account a lightning strike.

5) Quantity of grounds is also an issue. It is even possible to have multiple grounds cause problems such as "hum bars" in analog TVs, or just digital breakup due to small voltages travelling from one ground potential to another along a coax line because it is grounded at multiple ponts each ground with its own ground potential. The greater the differences in Ground potential the more obvious these hum bars may be. The length and qulity of ground wire also affects ground potential. Also, although you may not see hum bars in a digital signal, the ACRipple or hum can still interfere. This may also be called "Ground Loops" . Most any technician who has dealt with analog audio or video can tell you about ground loops. Digital is not completely immune.

6) a lightning strike (or any electricity) will always take the path of least resistance to ground


Let us assume that lightning strikes a pole or line outside your home and there is no (or a poor quality) protection or grounding at the point of entry to the home. The strike will pass along to your modem to any device with a grounded connector and probably fry anything between your modem and the first "good" ground it finds. The strike will take the path of least resistance (or multiple paths) to the ground so if the "best" ground is by way of a 3 prong plug on your TV that lightning spike will be carried mostly through your TV to ground, probably frying your TV along the way.

Now with a proper , high quality ground at the point of entry , if there is a lightning strike to pole or line outside, that lightning should dischage to ground BEFORE entering the home. THIS IS THE REASON WHY YOU DO NOT SIMPLY GROUND TO A COLD WATER PIPE!

As general rule (and may also apply to most any device that connects to a wire that passes outside):

1) Ground ALL Cable, Phone and DSL copper lines at point of entry

2) If your modem connects to a router or switch with a grounded outlet make sure it is grounded or provide a separate ground . Some switches and network hardware have a grounding screw . If you have a lot of network hardware at that point, such as in a rack, it is best to ground ALL of it at that point to an ISOLATED ground, not the electrical ground and defeating any electrical grounds in favour of an isolated ground. Some might in turn connect the Isolated ground in placeof the electrical ground (third prong)

3) ground any Satellite, TV, FM or other antenna at the point it enters the home. DO NOT attach coax to antenna masts, it should use some standoffs to help insulate it from the mast like these
https://www.amazon.com/Antenna-Standoff-Outdoor-Off-Air-Attachment/dp/B00UU39QKM , otherwise the Mast is like a lightning rod with a wire connecting to the inside of your home, or Deloran.

Of course none of this will help much if the lightning comes in the window and strikes a TV or computer directly.

Have you ever noticed that in a hospital the outlets are red/orange and often marked "Isolated Ground" ? You would not want a lightning strike to find its way to a half-baked electrical ground only to later find a new path to a better ground by way of YOUR BODY while you are connected to a piece of medical equipment .

Post was last edited on July 12, 2019 11:55 PM PDT

- Collapse -
I live in Florida It Happened more than once

I have been whacked a couple of times same thing Modems routers TeeVees
I put a whole house surge protector and guess what? It still happened.
The last time TV's and all the HDMI ports
Here's the deal
All those horror stories about EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse ) you hear about associated with Nuclear bombs, Guess what . Lightning bolts distribute the same thing when there is a near hit. That's why all the HDMI ports cooked. The cables act as a transmitter and it frys the electrical components. It sometimes feeds down the cable into the house and there goes your cable box and anything connected .
Short of disconnecting everything in a storm sometimes you cant stop it.
The Square trade warranties have saved my *** a couple of times so sometimes for the big screen tv's its worth it

- Collapse -
It happens

It's best to unplug that stuff before you leave. We have a whole house lightning arrester and it didn't help. The lightning hit the patio just on the other side of the wall from the modem, printer and 2 desktops. The Mac was DOA, the Lenovo lost Ethernet and the printer lost wifi capabilities while the router part of the modem still worked, we had no internet, but we still had the home network. A surge protector is not even close to being a lightning arrester.

- Collapse -
As per others, Surge Protector board

I live in an area that gets regular brown outs and fleeting blackouts.
I was warned to protect all my electrical & electronic equipment.
Everything in my house is plugged into some sort of surge board.
Some are more technical than others.
The electronic and computer gear have the really advanced expensive boards, while fridges, etc have normal surge protection boards.
The type I buy (probably not allowed to state the brand name here) have insurance on them in the form of lifetime warranties so after spending the big bucks for the first one, all I have to do is return the blown board with its receipt for an exchange board of equal type.
Progressively I have been upgrading all my boards by paying the bit extra for the better types of boards.
I return at least one board every year. That is how often these boards are saving my gear!

However, these surge protector boards would not protect anything in the event of a direct lightning strike to my house. Everything including the house would be fried! That's what 'home & contents' insurance is for!

- Collapse -
For a -real- power surge...
- Collapse -
Electrical surge protection

I lost a number of computer related, stereo and wireless landline phone devices to lightning strikes until I installed a surge suppressor in my home power breaker box. I also have small UPS for power to my Comcast modem, NAS and HDHOMERUN.

- Collapse -
Lightning damage happens, Less common than ESD damage

Lightning damage to electronics in a house most often happens when lightning hits a power line - perhaps miles from your house/ apt. This isn't uncommon at all. Your house wiring (in the US) is designed to handle "surges" of up to 5000 Volts. If you have Solar on your roof, or a wind turbine in your yard, there is another entryway into your house.
If you have "wires" that bring your internet service into your house, they can also transmit a surge from a strike quite a way from your house. Would be a huge difference between underground service and wires strung on Telephone poles wrt frequency of events. Typical POTS or ISDN-type service runs from the telco at 60V DC. A lightning hit would indeed fry everything.
Considering most electronic chips run on 5Volts down to 0.9V - or less, even a 1000V surge anywhere - into your power supply, modem device, etc. would be catastrophic.
There are a number of electronic protection devices to protect from over-voltage surges, and even direct strikes from lightning. These devices are called MOVs and GDTs. Protection can get to covering an EMP from a nuclear bomb!
You can have as many layers of protection as you want - its only money. Unfortunately, these devices don't work as well after they have absorbed an energy hit, they are mostly single event use devices. Some power strips have no protection al all, some have only a basic protection, some have enough to offer you an equipment warranty. Your renters or household insurance may also cover a lightning damage event - it varies.

- Collapse -
Lightning arester and unplugging

If you are worried about lightning, and hear it coming, pull plugs to your critical equipment and pop the breakers in the panel.

A Lightning arrester would be important to have for that.
Nothing else will really save you from damage when you get hit directly.

- Collapse -
Computer "stuff" getting froed by electrical surges.

As a former Ma Bell guy and then technical support on voice , data , fiber , microwave and communications for a vendor here is the info you need. If you are in your own home there should be a 10 foot ground rod connected via a ground wire to your electric meter. Older houses use the cold water pipe and a good solid bolt of lightening will in fact blow up the water pipe hence that's why you use a ground rod. Next no matter what the service is either Coax or Fiber they all come via an entry box on the side of the house that is also grounded. Any outside lines to your house has a solid metal strand to support the weight of the line. That box houses what is called "The Nic , the Nid or the Blade which separates out voice , data and TV signals to go to the proper devices. . Any satellite dishes should also have a ground. I personally grounded my satellite dish because I used them for 18 years and a year later it took a direct hit. Nothing was fried but the down link took a day to come back on line. Next your house should have a whole house surge protector in your main power panel. Basically a power hit to the voltage is clamped to the ground to dissipate it. However a lightening hit to the multi grounded neutral that comes in with the power might leak through. Next you need Battery UPS on all your electronic equipment. My computers , routers and my TVs are all on UPS. You would be surprised how many times they will beep during a normal day from power sags and surges. A little time , effort and money will save you a lot. By the way one of my buddies had a lightening strike at his rented place years ago. The lightening hit the home owners outside antenna , Came down through that lead they jumped through a wall to hit the telephone jack in his daughters attic bedroom. From there it followed the wires that had been run through the old kitchen soot pipes. It blew the covers off the pipes and blew all the years of soot into the 2nd and 1st floor kitchens. It then got to the basement and jumped to the telephone grounded protector clamped to the cold water pipe. The water pipe blew up under the sidewalk. The lightening strike still made it out via the telephone line and fried a 600 pair splice a block away. His daughters bedroom had a quarter sized hole in the wall but no fires.

- Collapse -
The simplest, inexpensive way

The simplest, inexpensive way is to disconnect all the unnecessary electrical and electronic items in your house, while you are away or during a storm. That's what we do and has never had this sort of a problem. However careful you might be, the people who does the grounding for the equipments may not be so and they don't care whether your equipments gets fried or not. They just want to complete their job ASAP and take your money.

CNET Forums

Forum Info