Having the juice from a lightning strike find its way from your antenna into the back of expensive equipment has to be one nightmare that every radio hobbyist dreads. Some sides of radio use are less at risk because the antennas don’t need to be that big or mounted so high, but to some degree its a potential problem for us all.
To ensure some measure of safety (and confidence) there are devices like lightning arresters you can fit to outside antennas. Designed with the sole purpose of giving lightning a route to ground without going through your shiny radio gear first, they’re a cost effective way of solving this problem.
Do lightning Arresters Always Work?
After carefully checking the build quality and making sure its fitted properly how much guaranty do you have that a lightning arrester is going to do the job?.
Testing under true conditions is not an option for the end user and you’ll have to rely on the electrical properties of the product your buying. Thankfully they’re uncomplicated pieces of equipment consisting of only a few parts to look over.
Doing a quick search online threw up this 2014 newspaper article from the UK’ where even though his antenna was fitted with a lightning arrester, the resulting energy bolt still managed to fry the CB, microphone and mess up the antenna.
Not having seen how the unit was installed or the overall build quality of the arrester, its very hard to say that it totally failed to work the way it should. The fact that energy got into the radio and even worse to the mic, is food for thought.
Playing It Safe
The variables involved in the chance that lightning will actually strike your antenna at any given time are many. Because electricity likes to take the shortest route to ground this increases if your antenna is the highest thing around or your sitting nicely on a mountain top.
The other side of this is it doesn’t have to be a direct hit to pass enough power down the antenna to end your CB. One story that makes a good point of the huge energy released from lightning is the report of it hitting an occupied football field and harming many of the people using it at the time.
Depending on the time of year I generally unplug all my antennas overnight, if I’m away or if a storm looks likely (even the one with the arrester fitted). With a host of different radios (CB, shortwave, scanner etc) all being fed by a group of outside antennas, to have them all destroyed in one single moment would be devastating beyond belief.
Over To You
Do you take great care about not leaving you radios wired up to their antennas unnecessarily, rely on lightning arresters or just leave it all to fate?.