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Old 04-09-2021, 05:55 PM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Middle Tennessee
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Lightning Strike, what now?

So, last week a huge bolt of lighting hit a utility pole about 100 feet from my camper. It completely destroyed the pole (literally cut it in half). Well, apparently it followed the electric or cable wire into my camper. And yes, I had one of those surge protectors plugged into my electric source at the plug, and my camper was plugged into it. Apparently it didn't help.

Please understand that I'm a white collar guy who is absolutely ashamed at how little knowledge I have about the mechanical things on my camper- none at all really and I'm sorry for that.

Here is what I know. After the lightening strike,several things don't work. My cable tv distribution went out. The cable running to my camper is still good, and so are my components (tv, modem, etc). I can stick the cable wire through the window and hook my tv to it and it works. But if I hook the cable up on the side of the camper where you are supposed to, the cable outlets in the camper don't work. This is so strange to me. I assummed the cable connections inside my camper were just direct wires and a splitter. Is there an electrical component involved in the cable tv outlets in my camper?

#2) My refrigerator stopped working. Obviously this is the most important problem. What really kills me about this is that my fridge is suppossed to work on electric OR on Gas. Niether one will work now.

The lights in my camper work but the batter no longer charges. Let me explain.....I leave my camper plugged in all the time. However, the overhead lights are all 12 volts. So when things worked properly, I supposse there is some kind of battery charger that used the 110 electric to charge the battery and then my lights ran off the battery. So my lights worked several days after the lightening strike but then slowly went dead. I hooked a 12 volt battery charger up overnight and my lights work again, but of course will go dead again now.

I did have one fuse in my 12 volt fuse box that blew, but I replaced it and it didn't fix any of the above problems. I've checked all fuses.
None of my 5 110 circuit breakers triped. I have flipped them off and back on just to be sure.

I don't know if my fridge worked off my battery the way my lights do. But if so, I don't understand why it won't work when I recharge the battery using my battery charger.

My 110 volt plugs work. Everything else seems to work.

My big deal is my fridge, then the fact that my battery won't stay charged to run my overhead lights, then there is my cable outlets.

Does anyone have any idea what might be going on? I seriously doubt I can fix it, but perhaps there is a fuse I don't know about or a reset or something????

I have a 23 foot Highland Ridge trailer. It is a 2019 model.

Any help or insight would be appreciated Sooooo much! Thank-you fellow camper owners!
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Old 04-09-2021, 05:57 PM   #2
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Sounds like an insurance claim...
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Old 04-09-2021, 07:07 PM   #3
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I have a $3,500 deductible!!! Hoping it will be less than that to fix all this.
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Old 04-09-2021, 07:10 PM   #4
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Electrical spikes damage electronics...
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Old 04-09-2021, 07:27 PM   #5
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I'm surprised some of the electrical experts like twin boat or old bisquit haven't chimed in yet. I'm thinking you burned off your ground. Even a propane fridge needs working 12 volts. Have you looked around and under your camper for anything obvious. Do you have a generator you can run.
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Old 04-09-2021, 07:28 PM   #6
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Circuit boards of all those components are fried from the surge. No surge protector can protect from a lightning strike that close by. Since your knowledge is limited I suggest take it to a repair facility and get a quote. Have them go through the camper system by system. There may be more damage undiscovered. If it exceeds your deductible make your claim if not break out the old wallet. Then lower your deductible by all means.
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Old 04-09-2021, 07:30 PM   #7
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I have seen sometimes the surge protector company has some sort of insurance coverage. You can Google the company that built your surge protector to see if they offer coverage.

If they offer coverage you might have to fight with them if you want to put in a claim.

Electric surges - ugh, there is no set things that will make sense of what works and what does not work. Another way to say it is 'results are unpredictable'.

You will need a light (wire) tester to see where the electric cuts off. Like your refrigerator. You can check if it is getting power.

Your convertor could be damaged that would keep you battery from charging.
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Old 04-09-2021, 07:35 PM   #8
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Yes, sometimes a surge protector is not enough, especially with lightning strike close by. Sounds like you have lost a few things, especially your charger which may also be providing 12v while plugged in. And yes, the refrigerator requires 12v even for propane but if the lightning took out the control panel, nothing will work. Since you don't appear to feel comfortable checking yourself (Requires meter(s) and knowledge of your wiring), you will probably have to get a mobile tech to at least check out your systems. There is no easy check - you have to start at point A and go on to the next point b, c, etc until you find the broken component. Either that or find someone in your park that has troubleshooting skills and offer them a beer!
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Old 04-09-2021, 07:40 PM   #9
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Fridge needs 12VDC as a control voltage. Since you overhead lights are being a problem the fridge problem is probably related. As mentioned reads like your batteries are near end of life (if original high probability) and the lighting strike took out the 120VAC to 12VDC Converter/Charger.

Also a lighting strike as close as you scribe will eat everything it can. The amount of energy is unimaginable which is why your surge protector is now slag and sacrificed itself to save most of everything else in the coach that was plugged it other than the converter.
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Old 04-09-2021, 07:41 PM   #10
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The surge suppressor's job isn't to protect the RV from lightning. It's basically not possible for a surge suppressor to do this on its own. There is simply no good way to protect a plugged-in RV from a nearby lightning strike. The best thing you can do is disconnect any electrical connections in advance of the storm. Power, cable, phone, all of them. Doing this after you hear the thunder is hazardous.

A nearby strike need not be to something directly connected to your coach. Think of a target composed of concentric circles. The lightning hits the "10" ring in the center. Between the 10 ring and the outer ring there is a big voltage differential in the ground surrounding the strike. The difference between successive ring pairs is smaller as you move away from center, and higher as you move toward the center. Your coach is attached to a post with conductors at various voltages, including two that are nominally zero--except when you're near a lightning strike. If you're unfortunate to be close to the 10 ring and plugged in, bad things are going to happen.

An effective lightning protection system (for up to some percentile of strike) is absolutely possible, and surge suppressors have their place as part of that sort of system, but it's just impractical to implement an effective one for an RV, would be disallowed by many campgrounds, and would be expensive. (Ground rods driven into the ground around the coach every 10', bonded with copper strap to form a ground ring, just to start.)

So now, on to practical things. You need to find out whether your insurance covers damage from the strike. A number of control boards might have been fried, and someone should inspect at least the power and cable entry points for evidence of damage. Then, everything that got hurt will need to be replaced.
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Old 04-09-2021, 07:55 PM   #11
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First off lightning is way, way more than a surge, ask any radio/TV engineer it destroys their equipment on a semi regular basis. It is about the most powerful electrical charge on earth. That said, it could and probably did affect every electrical circuit in your rig. I wish I could tell you something else, but I can't. There is nothing you could do about it , it was simply bad luck. This is what you buy insurance for. As others have said I would call your insurance company and the surge protector company. As far as the rig goes start with the power cord and work into the coach from there. Everything is suspect. Sorry for your trouble but there is no simple solution to this issue you have to check everything. Best of luck.
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Old 04-09-2021, 07:59 PM   #12
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Thanks so much to everyone. I know the most logical thing, especially for someone so inexperienced and helpless at repairing things, is just to take it to a dealer. However, over a year ago I had a MAJOR house fire and I've been living in my camper while my house is rebuilt 9nevermind why its taken 18 months to fix my house!). My dealer doesn't have mobile its take it in or nothing. I've looked into finding a mobile RV repair person byt the closest one is almost 2 hours away and very expensive just to come look.
As for my deductible being too high- I'm a finance guy. By having such a high deductible my annual premium is about $330 lower than it w0uld be with a $500 deductible. I've lived in my home 21 years, so I've saved about $7,000. So I could pay the $3,000 higher deductible 3 times and still come out ahead. So you could say that I've saved enough over the years to cover this damage, and that is true. Still, its human nature to want to spend as little as possible now to get my problem fixed.

I have looked fairly closely under my camper but saw nothing unusual. To the person who mentioned that I might have burned my ground.....I'm not sure were to look for my ground. I have no rod stuck in the ground, but I guess a ground on a camper is just a wire that goes to the frame? Guess I need to try and figure that out.

I do have a little tester plug that lights up if there is juice, but the big problem I have with my fridge is that I cannot get to the back. I mean, its going to be a GIANT, HUGE ordeal to get to the back of my fridge. The cabinet is basically built around it.

Thank you so much for telling me that even the gas operation of my fridge requires 12 volts. I had really been wondering about that. To me, that is good news because it gives me hope that my problem is just that my converter or something in my 12 system is fried, but MAYBE not my fridge itself. Since my batter charger and cable tv lines are also out, maybe my fridge problem is just the electrical 12 v going to it and not the fridge components themselves. That also might mean I dont have to tear out my cabinets to get to the back of fridge.

Old Biscuit helped me once about a year ago and was incredibly smart at electrical stuff and, better yet, was able to dumb it down for me so I could fix it. Hope he drops by again. But all of you have been incredibly helpful. So thank-you.
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Old 04-09-2021, 08:13 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by thecityman View Post
So, last week a huge bolt of lighting hit a utility pole about 100 feet from my camper. It completely destroyed the pole (literally cut it in half). Well, apparently it followed the electric or cable wire into my camper. And yes, I had one of those surge protectors plugged into my electric source at the plug, and my camper was plugged into it. Apparently it didn't help.

Any help or insight would be appreciated Sooooo much! Thank-you fellow camper owners!
Hi CityMan,

I feel your pain.

A surge protector is designed to protect you from the damage that you seem to have suffered. Most surge protectors have a warranty the provides for reimbursement for damage done to your RV if their surge protector fails to protect your electrical system.

If the surge did pass thru your surge protector, there are many, many possibilities for damage to your electrical system. Much of that damage might be beyond the ability of a CityMan to properly diagnose.

Were I in your situation, my first effort would be directed at researching the warranty of your surge protector. Next, I'd be seeking the help of a professional familiar with your RV's electrical system. That professional should be able to coordinate with your surge protector's customer service to repair the damage.

Good luck.

Take care,
"A superior pilot is one who uses his superior judgment to avoid situations which might require the demonstration of his superior skills."
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Old 04-09-2021, 08:26 PM   #14
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To get to the back of the fridge, you go outside and open the vent up. Turn the little square latches 90 degrees and gently pull on the vent. You will be looking at the back side of the fridge. Most likely, the 12v circuit board is fried. If the fridge was operating on 120v ac at the time, the 120v heating element may also be fried.

Your power converter is fried too from what you describe. You would need to measure the 12v side voltage to see what it is, if it is under 13 volts, with the converter powered, the battery is not being charged.

Did you check the two 30 amp (Green?) fuses that are off to the side by themselves. If they blow the converter could be working but the battery will not charge. If they are blown, replace them and then see if the battery charges (voltage above 13).

As Sweetbriar mentioned above, the low voltage will play havoc with fridge operation. The 12 volt is use for ALL control of the fridge, both gas and 120v ac.

First order of business is to get the battery charging back to normal.

What model is your Highland Ridge?

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