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should I unplug during lightning storm?

Discussion in 'Model S: Battery & Charging' started by Piney999, Jun 26, 2016.

  1. Piney999

    Piney999 Member

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    So before you flame me, I searched. OK, I am sure it has been discussed before many times, but what is the guidance on charging/being plugged in during a lightning storm? Every time I search, I get a million threads about the lightning connector from Apple. Thanks for the help!
     
  2. dhrivnak

    dhrivnak Active Member

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    In over 5 years of ownership and a number of storms no issue. I assume you home electric is up to code with proper grounding. If you only need to be worried of a direct hit and with a direct hit I am sure you have many other problems.
     
  3. kort677

    kort677 Active Member

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    if it makes you feel better, unplug.
     
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  4. aesculus

    aesculus Still Trying to Figure this All Out

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    My neighbor took a direct hit from lightning and trashed all sorts of stuff in their home. The utility company had to pay for a lot of things to be replaced. Interestingly their Tesla was not plugged in to my knowledge otherwise it would have been a good test. :eek:
     
  5. NOLA_Mike

    NOLA_Mike Active Member

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    I don't unplug anything but I recognize that anything plugged in to anything (cable, telephone, electrical) is subject to damage by lightning.

    Here's a thread where someone had damage done while plugged in to a Supercharger during a nearby or direct lightning strike.

    Your call on whether to unplug or not...
     
  6. mikeash

    mikeash Active Member

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    I unplug mine when there's a bad storm if it's convenient to do so. I won't run home to do it if I'm out, but if I'm there anyway, why not? The risk is small but the potential consequences are huge. If I get home and I know storms are on the way then I'll just leave it unplugged, which takes no effort at all.
     
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  7. Electric700

    Electric700 Member

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    Consider this: Leviton 120/240-Volt Residential Whole House Surge Protector-R02-51110-SRG - The Home Depot

    Unless you have a whole house surge protector, it won't hurt to unplug during a lightning storm.

    Here's a quote from one of the reviews I saw on Home Depot's site:

    "I installed one on each of the two 200amp main panel boxes in my house about 5 years ago. Prior to that I had lost a lot of stuff to power surge and lightning strikes over the years. Yes I said strikes. The chimney has been rebuilt and the same sheet of roofing replaced twice. Yes, it does strike the same place twice.

    This morning the house took a power surge from the power company and whole house surge protector did its job. I know protector took the brunt of it because the face blew off the front of it and it landed 4 feet away. See the picture attached. Off to Depot to get another one today!"
     
  8. Skotty

    Skotty 2014 Model S P85

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    This is actually a very good question. There are surge protectors that are mostly useless, and surge protectors that are very good. Does an EVSE provide surge protection? Given that the J1772 EVSE I have on my wall is as big as full size suitcase, I would hope it also provides surge protection. But honestly I don't know if it does or not. And if it does, what is it's quality? How big of a surge can it handle? This needs to be answered about the mobile EVSE's provided by the major EV manufacturers as well as the major charging stations from the likes of GE, EVlink, Blink, etc. These questions are never answered by anyone.

    Unfortunately, you would probably have to hire an electrical engineering firm to do a study to finally get an answer on this. Probably for a few million dollars. Because almost no one really knows and those that do aren't talking.

    I would recommend unplugging whenever you are home, there is a storm brewing, and you don't really need to charge.
     
  9. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    Perhaps some, but not against a lightning strike. I unplug if it seems close. The whole house protectors are mainly to protect you when some truck hits a power pole and shorts things out. As far as I know, the only things that will help in a close lightning strike are data centre grade UPS (think $8K+) or PDU ($10K plus). Note that either will be destroyed but almost everything running off of them will be saved. I suspect a Powerwall would also do the same thing, but I don't know and I don't think there are any actual cases so far.
     
  10. Rockster

    Rockster Active Member

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    I do the same. It's a simple precaution.
     
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  11. SpoolUp

    SpoolUp Member

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    I think the expression "An ounce of prevention saves a pound of cure" applies here. Unplug it.
     
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  12. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    When our barn was struck by lightning, a surge protector wouldn't have helped because the surge came into the power lines directly, not through the grid. That was unusual, but it cooked every bit of plugged in electronics.

    I think the OP's question was a good one and, if we're home, I think I'll start unplugging if there's a storm.
     
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  13. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Active Member

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    I unplug all of my expensive electronics during a storm, my vehicle is treated the same.
     
  14. aesculus

    aesculus Still Trying to Figure this All Out

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    Just to confirm that my neighbors hpwc was toasted when they took a direct hit. Luckily they were away in the Tesla at the time so it's hard to think what might have happened if it was plugged in. The thought was that the HPWC would take the hit and not send anything to the car but ...
     
  15. mikeash

    mikeash Active Member

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    I can't see how the HPWC could hold back a lightning strike and not pass any power to the car. I could see the power pins being protected as long as the car isn't actively charging, since those are shut off using relays when not in use, but the communications and ground pins are always connected and could easily pass a surge. I wouldn't be surprised if lightning could arc across the relay contacts and hit the charge pins too. I don't know if the HPWC has surge protection, but even if it does I doubt it's good enough to handle a close-range lightning strike.
     
  16. Piney999

    Piney999 Member

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    Wow, thanks for the all the replies. I think the best bet is to unplug if there is any doubt! Thanks all!
     
  17. CSFTN

    CSFTN Member

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    I don't unplug, but I do throw the breaker for the HPWC circuit, for severe thunderstorms ...
     
  18. gerti

    gerti Member

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    Our house got hit by multiple lightnings a few weeks ago. One strike hit the transformer at the bottom of our driveway, a second seems to have come in through the door bell wires.

    A lot of stuff was destroyed, amongst it furnace, AC and garage door opener. Our Model S was plugged in using a mobile connector into a NEMA 14-50, looks like we got lucky though. Car and charger seem fine. Our SC pulled the logs, nothing noteworthy they say. And the car made a 2k mile road trip since without issues. Thank you Tesla engineers!

    We do have a fairly high-end whole house surge protector (updated from an older model when the charger outlet was installed). Not sure if it did anything, light is still green. We contacted the manufacturer and they actually came out and had a look, said it was installed correctly. However later when we tried to file a claim they pointed out that the installation instructions clearly state (I checked, true) that it will not protect from a "direct" lightning hit. I assume that means "on the inside", but because the wording is ambiguous it is basically a "get out of jail free" card for them. Of course their brochures prominently feature imagery of lightnings.

    UPSs in the house worked well and protected some of the more expensive equipment. However there was one path that allowed the lightning to get into protected circuits: from the doorbell wiring to a transformer into a power strip (hooked to the UPS) that was hanging off that power strip. Every device on that power strip got trashed. I since moved the transformer hookup to in front of the UPS.

    BTW this was the fifth time in 20 years that I had to replace hardware after lighting strikes. The lightning always hit in different places (except one weekend we had the same transformer hit twice within 3 days). Somehow the microclimate or geography here appears to attract lightning. This was by far the most damage though.

    Past experience has shown me that a small air gap (opto coupler) is not sufficient. And I doubt a thrown breaker will present much protection, apparently lightning will easily jump such a small gap if it wants to.
     
  19. AmpedRealtor

    AmpedRealtor Active Member

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    Yes, it's always a good practice. Even a strike down the street can wreak havoc with your electrical and phone wiring. It doesn't hurt and can only help.
     

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