Pull the plug in a thunderstorm? That is not enough – routers, telephone systems and smart home devices in particular are at risk. Lightning protection and surge protection are a good investment.
Statistically speaking, the summer months have the most thunderstorms – incidentally, significantly more in southern Germany than in the rest of the country. Even as a child we learned that we should at least pull the plug in the event of lightning and thunder TV, the antenna and the connection to the Telephone line should separate. But is that still true? And what about other devices, especially the smart home devices that are available in many households today, which in many cases are even laid under the wall and in some cases cannot be easily disconnected from the power supply?
Overall, insurers have calculated that lightning and thunderstorms cause damage of around 400 million euros annually in Germany. According to the Association of the German Insurance Industry, an average of 840 euros in damage was caused in 2017 for each lightning strike.
Lightning strikes a current of up to 20,000 amps, the normal current, however, comes to a maximum of 16 amps. Damage is inevitable. On the one hand, these can arise from overvoltage. In this case, lightning strikes near the house, the high voltage of which can destroy electrical devices, especially if they are networked with one another, as is the case today more than ever. Protection is promised by appropriate surge protection devices and socket strips with surge protection.
However, tests have shown that these often do not keep their promises and that damage cannot be ruled out, especially in the case of more complex IT equipment. You should therefore, if possible, disconnect the devices from the power supply – so this still applies as before.
In addition, lightning damage can also cause damage through direct strikes into houses. In the worst case scenario, this can cause fires and explosions. The lightning rod can act as an antidote, which is recommended in any case (but is only required for certain buildings). The energy of the striking lightning is conducted through a line into the ground.
Even if lightning strikes cause fires less often today due to the heavier burning materials used, the entire electrical installation and associated devices can be damaged. Therefore, both the classic roof lightning arrester and surge protection in the electronic installation are recommended. Sounds expensive, but it can also be felt indirectly through lower contributions to fire protection or household contents insurance. By the way, you should keep in mind that the electrical appliances themselves are only part of the damage. Usually cover Insurance namely from the replacement value, but not the Data recovery measures, for example in the case of a server or NAS whose storage media are then unusable.
You should include both the power grid and the data and telephone network in such a protection strategy. The latter can transmit overvoltage significantly further than the power grid because, in contrast to the power grid, an overvoltage filter is even counterproductive for the performance of the telephone, DSL or coaxial line. The reason: an overvoltage filter in a cable or DSL line would severely limit the bandwidth as it filters the frequencies too much and attenuates the signal. Incidentally, this is the reason why you should still pay special attention to televisions and satellite systems, but also routers and telephone systems (and therefore better disconnect them from the network).
It is also complicated to damage from Smart home installations avert. Because these devices are often permanently installed. But surge protection can also be retrofitted here. Smart home devices such as digital outdoor cameras, sensors for temperature measurement and heating control as well as roller shutter control and switching units are protected even if they are permanently installed. However, the problem is the implementation: This should be done by a certified specialist for liability and insurance reasons.
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