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.

lighting strike

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.

Huntingdon CB radio user almost electrocuted after lightning bolt strikes aerial

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?.

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7 Responses to Rely on Lightning Arrester or Simply Unplug Antenna?

  1. Roy says:

    You guys are talking about base stations how about mobiles that is what I’m going to have.
    I plan to get one, or do I get a quick release coax connector?

    • Carl says:

      Hi Roy and Welcome.

      Mobiles are less of a risk where lightning strikes are concerned (less antenna overall and lower to ground), but hey this is mother nature and we know how that can be 🙂

      Personally I wouldn’t worry about it too much, maybe disconnecting the antenna from back of CB radio when your away from the car (or take the rig out all together, a safer option for many reasons).

      I remove all my antennas (from everything) if I’m going to away from the house for a long time.

      All the best

  2. Mike says:

    Hi Carl, All is going well and my radio setup is almost finished (for now) 😉 Thanks for the information. I will be checking it all out before Spring. (Live in U.P. of Michigan so have time yet). Hope your doing fine also and as always you have given me the info I needed. The 200 watt Palomar amp with Zetagi reducer are working great as well as the Dosy meters that you recommended. If you let me know where or how to send it I’d like to send a picture of my setup. Thanks again Mike

  3. Mike says:

    Hi Carl, Well I just read your article and the response from G Money and I have a question. My antenna is mounted off the ground on a steel pole bolted to the side of my house with heavy duty antenna mounts. I am going to purchase an arrester or suppresser and I like the additional idea of grounding it with a steel rod into the ground as added protection. I am just wondering if you can tell me what I should look for in an arrester for my coax? You’ve been a great help to me in setting up my system and sure would hate to have it trashed by lightening. Thanks Mike

  4. G Money says:

    Definatly get a suppressor..it couldn’t hurt & maybe help ….all truth be told it. Probably won’t. There was a Ham radio store here in CT that had an arrestor but lightning still traveled down coax & even started a fire in the store ! If possible mount your base ant on a long steel pole mounted down in to the ground ..if mounted on the roof of house make sure you use a HEAVY GAUGE ground wire connected to a long stake driven in to the earth. (Home Depot sells stake. 5 ft long. ) hammer all the way down Deep. Leave a few inched above & attach ground wire with clamp ….along with arrestor it May help but no guarantees with lightning as I always unplug my CB and hang the,plug-coax out the window when not in use. Lightning scares me!!

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