A Complete Guide to Make Your Home Lightning-Proof: Tips and Tricks

by | Jul 2, 2024

A lightning strike doesn’t need to directly hit your home to cause damage; it can occur within half a kilometre. In fact, most surges that people experience come from issues at a neighbour’s house or further down the power company lines. Surges aren’t limited to lightning either; they can result from an automobile accident hitting a power pole or routine maintenance on the main power lines. When power is turned back on, it can send surges into your home or business, potentially destroying electronic equipment and appliances.

Electricity powers your home’s appliances, TVs, and computers, but it also makes your home vulnerable to lightning strikes. When lightning hits, it can damage outlets, electronics, and your electric panel, creating an electrical emergency. Andrew Bell of Bell Electrical Contractors lends his expert advice on safeguarding your home against lightning and handling electrical emergencies.

Protecting your home from lightning: tips and emergency actions

While you can’t completely prevent lightning from striking your home, you can take steps to minimise the potential damage.

  1. Unplug devices and secure your electronics

Start by disconnecting appliances, TVs, computers, and other equipment from outlets. Don’t forget to unplug modems, phone lines, and cable lines as well.

Nearly every home today is filled with multiple computers and advanced home entertainment systems. Even our appliances have become high-tech, with refrigerators featuring built-in monitors and laundry appliances with electronic controls. These items are particularly susceptible to spikes in your home’s electrical current, which can lead to melted circuit boards and overheated wires. Repairing these expensive gadgets can be far more costly than simply replacing a blown-out light bulb or electrical outlet.

  1. Install whole-home surge protection

Have an electrician install a whole-house surge protector on your main electrical panel. This helps minimise the effect of surges on your wiring. Opt for a surge protector with a battery backup to ensure protection even during power outages.

No matter what you’re protecting—your family, your business, or your possessions—it’s essential to be prepared and proactive rather than reactive. By installing simple surge protection, you can save yourself a lot of time and hassle. It’s like hitting the “easy” button for safeguarding your valuable assets.

  1. Utilise point-of-use surge protectors

Purchase surge protectors (not just power strips) for each device you want to safeguard. Check the joule rating, which indicates how much energy the surge protector can absorb before failing. A higher rating means better protection.

💡Bell Electrical tip: Avoid joule ratings under 1,000 unless you’re protecting small devices that don’t store important data. Cheaper surge protectors often have lower joule ratings, but investing in one with a higher rating is worth it for better protection in the long run.

  1. Ground your home against lightning strikes

Ensure your home’s electric panel box has a robust grounding system. Lightning seeks the best path to the ground, and if it doesn’t find one outside, it will look inside your home. In areas prone to lightning, consider hiring a professional to install a lightning protection system. These systems, which include lightning rods, conductors, grounding, and surge suppressors, redirect strikes to the ground, minimising damage.

electrical safety prevention against lightening

Handling electrical emergencies

Lightning strikes near your home can cause various electrical emergencies. Here’s how to address common issues:

  1. Power surges

A power surge is a temporary increase in voltage through the power lines, which can damage electronic devices. If a TV, computer, or appliance isn’t working correctly after a storm, it may need replacement or professional repair.

When the utility company restores power after an outage, it can cause a surge. Unplug devices to prevent damage when power returns. It’s also wise to check your home insurance coverage for power surges.

Bell says, “A properly installed lightning protection system can be around 99% effective at preventing lightning damage.” He adds that this high level of effectiveness is due to the system’s use of highly conductive copper and aluminium materials, which provide a low-resistance path for the lightning’s electricity to travel safely into the ground via the grounding system. 

Ensuring your home has an excellent grounding system is crucial, as it ‘kills off’ the dangerous electricity and surges caused by lightning strikes.

  1. Downed power lines

If you see a downed power line, call the utility company immediately to report it. Do not approach downed lines, as they can be extremely dangerous. Lightning strikes or falling trees can cause fires when they hit power lines. If there’s a fire in your home or yard, evacuate immediately and call 911.

  1. Outlet issues

Even if your power is on, your outlets may not be working correctly. After a storm, reset and test GFCI and AFCI outlets. If they aren’t functioning properly, contact an electrician for repairs or replacements. Also, review your home insurance policy to understand coverage for storm damage.

Final thoughts

By taking these precautions and knowing how to respond to electrical emergencies, you can protect your home and keep your family safe during stormy weather.

When you have a general repair or an electrical emergency, trust Bell Electrical to get the job done right.

Need Help?

Do you need to have your electrical systems done? Bell Electrical Contractors is happy to help. Call us on 0411471922 or email us at info@bellelectrical.com.au.