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Old 04-20-2012, 06:06 PM   #1
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Curious Question... Lightning

Since we are expecting storms this weekend, it made me think about the coach as a new owner. I am one who has always heard, and believed that cars are gounded due to their rubber tires. Well, when my Hurricane is on its levelers on my home pad, three of the four wheels (I'm counting the dualies as one) are off the ground, and the fourth is not exactly on the ground either. Well, due to this, I am reasonably assured that the tires are not grounding the MH. With that said, if I am on the levelers boondocking and not connected to shore power, what happens if a lightning storm approaches? Again, this is a curiousity question.
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Old 04-20-2012, 06:18 PM   #2
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Rubber is an insulator, not a conductor. When your RV is on levelers it is better grounded than when it is on rubber.
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Old 04-20-2012, 06:39 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by toneumanns View Post
Rubber is an insulator, not a conductor. When your RV is on levelers it is better grounded than when it is on rubber.
Thanks, while I understand your answer, now it really has me wondering! Since rubber is an insulator (why didn't I think of that ), I can understand the protection of being in the car... there is no path to ground. However with that said, since the MH is better grounded through the levelers, does that make me more susceptable to a strike????
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Old 04-20-2012, 06:50 PM   #4
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A lot of variables in a lightning strike. If your parked in the middle of a field and the antenna is the highest point around; well then you've got problems . If the top of the coach is lower than roof tops , power poles,trees and other objects close by then you should be OK . I would say you're more likely to have damage from a power surge / brown out than a direct strike . Disconnect from shore power during a storm.
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Old 04-20-2012, 06:51 PM   #5
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I have some real life experience. I had installed a WIFI antenna on the TV antenna leg that extended about 30 inches above the TV antenna. The lightning strike occurred while my DW was inside the MH closing windows and I had just pulled up behind the MH in our toad. Levelers were down and we were hooked up to the electrical pedestal.
The electrical current blew the WIFI antenna apart. The current followed the WIFI cable to the repeater (JEFATECH) and rendered it nonfunctual. Then the current seemed to find the ground leg of the repeater plug and disapeared into the pedestal ground circuit.
Damages (in addition to JEFATECH) were:
Dash Instrments non-functional - Corrected by unplugging battery and letting ECM reboot.
Surround sound system (connected to same electrical plug as JEFATECH) was blown.
One sensor on engine was blown.

Not an experience I wish to repeat but not as bad as you might have expected.


Have a nice day - Darrel
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Old 04-20-2012, 06:55 PM   #6
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Rubber tires have nothing to do with it. Air is a better insulator than rubber and the lightning just crossed a mile of that to hit the vehicle.

You're safer in a vehicle because of the metal frame conducting the electricity around you. Don't touch the edges of the vehicle.
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Old 04-20-2012, 08:41 PM   #7
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I agree with Skip's explaination. I have never had a direct hit but have had a near miss that caused a severe power surge. The first time this happened some electronics were fried and a couple of circuit boards cooked. Now, if I know a storm is expected, I unplug from power till it passes.
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Old 04-20-2012, 09:02 PM   #8
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Power surge during lightning storm got my converter and and my EMC has been wacko ever since. I wasn't home or new drawers would have been in order.
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Old 04-20-2012, 09:02 PM   #9
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Thanks to all for the answers. Concerning surges, I plan on going with one of the protectors from Progressive Industries. I'm hoping to go with the hardwired unit, but if I can't follow my power input path beyond the plug-in for a possible self install, I may get the plug in model.
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Old 04-20-2012, 09:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeWat View Post
Thanks to all for the answers. Concerning surges, I plan on going with one of the protectors from Progressive Industries. I'm hoping to go with the hardwired unit, but if I can't follow my power input path beyond the plug-in for a possible self install, I may get the plug in model.

I've been using the portable surge guard since 2003 and it is now being used on our 2nd coach. I do use the lock box that Camping World sells for them.

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Old 04-20-2012, 09:26 PM   #11
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See this thread for more information and a link to Progressive Industries discussion on lightening strikes.

Do you disconnect shore power during a thunder storm?
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Old 04-21-2012, 07:28 AM   #12
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The first thing I would do in a situation like described is get all 4 tires on the ground, having nothing to do with electrical strikes but stability. Per our owners manual we try never to raise a tire off the ground (or 2X12's carried for that purpose) with the jacks.......
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Old 04-21-2012, 06:31 PM   #13
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The tires do not provide insulation when lighting strikes. It’s the metal frame that allows the lightning to travel along the surface of the vehicle and to the ground. A convertible does not offer protection. And there are better places to be than a car. Check out MYTH number 3.

TOP-10 MYTHS OF LIGHTNING SAFETY - From NOAA

1. MYTH: Lightning Never Strikes The Same Place Twice

TRUTH: Lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall pointy isolated object. The Empire State Building used to be used as a lightning laboratory, since it is hit nearly 25 times a year. Places prone to lightning are places to avoid when thunderstorms are nearby!

2. MYTH: If It’s Not Raining, Or If Clouds Aren’t Overhead, I’m Safe From Lightning

TRUTH: Lightning often strikes more than three miles from the thunderstorm, far outside the rain or even thunderstorm cloud. ‘Bolts From The Blue’, though infrequent, can strike 10-15 Miles from the thunderstorm. Anvil lightning can strike the ground over 50 Miles from the thunderstorm, under extreme conditions. Lightning in clouds has traveled over 100 miles from the thunderstorm.

3. MYTH: Rubber Tires Protect You From Lightning In A Car By Insulating You From The Ground

TRUTH: Lightning laughs at two inches of rubber! Most cars are reasonably safe from lightning. But it’s the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, not the rubber tires. Thus convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open shelled outdoor recreational vehicles, and cars with plastic or fiberglass shells offer no lightning protection. Likewise, farm and construction vehicles with open cockpits offer no lightning protection. But closed cockpits with metal roof and sides are safer than going outside. And don’t even ask about sneakers!

4. MYTH: A Lightning Victim Is Electrified. If You Touch Them, You’ll Be Electrocuted.

TRUTH: The human body doesn’t store electricity. It is perfectly safe to touch a lightning victim to give them first aid. This is the most chilling of lightning myths. Imagine someone dying needlessly, for want of simple CPR or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, when their chances of survival was ~90%!

5. MYTH: If Outside In A Thunderstorm, Go Under A Tree To Stay Dry

TRUTH: Being underneath trees is the second leading activity for lightning casualties – enough said?!

6. MYTH: I’m In A House, I’m Safe From Lightning

TRUTH: While a house is a good place for lightning safety, just going inside isn’t enough. You must avoid any conducting path leading outside, such as corded telephones, electrical appliances, wires, TV cables, plumbing (including plastic pipes with water in them), metal doors or window frames, etc. Don’t stand near a window to watch the lightning. An inside room is generally best.

7. MYTH: When Playing Sports And Thunderstorms Threaten, It’s Okay To Finish The Game Before Seeking Shelter

TRUTH: Sports is the activity with the fastest rising rate of lightning casualties. No game is worth death or life-long severe injury. All people associated with sports should have a lightning safety plan and stick to it strictly. Seek proper shelter immediately when lightning threatens. Adults are responsible for the safety of children!

8. MYTH: Structures With Metal, Or Metal On The Body (Jewelry, Watches, Glasses, Backpacks, Etc.), Attract Lightning

TRUTH: Height, pointy shape, and isolation are the dominant factors controlling where a lightning bolt will strike. The presence of metal makes virtually no difference on where lightning strikes. Mountains are made of stone, but receive many strikes each year. When lightning threatens, take proper protective action immediately. Don’t waste time shedding metal off your body, or seeking shelter under inadequate structures. But while metal doesn’t attract lightning, touching or being near long metal objects (fences, railings, bleachers, vehicles, etc.) is still unsafe when thunderstorms are nearby. If lightning does happen to hit it, the metal can conduct the electricity a long distance (even over 100 yards) and still electrocute you.

9. MYTH: If Trapped Outside And Lightning Is About To Strike, Lie Flat On The Ground

TRUTH: This advice is decades out of date. Better advice is to use the ‘Lightning Crouch’: put your feet together, squat low, tuck your head, and cover your ears. Lightning induces electric currents along the top of the ground that can be deadly over 100 Feet away. While lying flat on the ground gets you as low as possible, which is good, it increases your chance of being hit by a ground current, which is bad. The best combination of being low and touching the ground as little as possible is the ‘Lightning Crouch’. But the ‘Lightning Crouch’ should be used only as a last resort. Much better would be to plan outdoor activities around the weather to avoid thunderstorm exposure and to have proper shelter available.

10. MYTH: Go near a tall pointy isolated object when thunderstorms threaten, to be within the 45° “cone of protection”

TRUTH: The “cone of protection” is a myth! While tall pointy isolated objects are statistically more likely to be struck by lightning, it’s not nearly reliable enough to rely on for safety. Lightning can still strike you near the tall object. Besides, the lightning electricity will likely spread out along the surface of the ground and can still kill you over 100 Ft from the “protecting” object. Also, if you are close to or touching the tall object, you can be electrocuted via side flash or contact voltage. NO PLACE OUTSIDE IS SAFE NEAR A THUNDERSTORM!

Distance and proper shelter is your best protection from lightning.
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Old 04-21-2012, 10:19 PM   #14
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Thanks, while I understand your answer, now it really has me wondering! Since rubber is an insulator (why didn't I think of that ), I can understand the protection of being in the car... there is no path to ground. However with that said, since the MH is better grounded through the levelers, does that make me more susceptable to a strike????
The reason you are safer inside a car is the metal body acts as a Faraday cage which conducts the current around you. The tires are insulators but the gap between the rims to the ground is short and readily jumped.
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