Chicago lightning causes $35,000 in damage - here's how to protect your electrical
A lightning strike to a suburban Chicago home recently zapped its entire electrical system, causing $35,000 in damages.
Although no one was hurt when lightning struck a Naperville, Illinois, garage this weekend, the hit left the home uninhabitable as a result of the electrical system destruction and smoke damage, according to news reports.
Two days later and just a few miles away two more homes were struck my lightning in Joliet and Braidwood during another round of strong storms.
It’s impossible to keep your home completely guarded against a direct or indirect lightning strike. However, there are measures you can take to protect your valuable home appliances and electronics from ruin from the power surges caused by lightning.
Whole-house surge protection
Many homeowners know the value of plugging their devices into a surge protecting power strip. That isn't always enough.
Many large household appliances, such as your dryer or refrigerator, can't be plugged into a surge protecting strip, and a power strip alone is no guarantee against damage — especially in a nearby or direct hit.
For maximum protection, electricians recommend a whole-house surge protector that can protect your entire electrical system by diverting the energy created by a lightning strike into the ground. Typically, the protectors are set up either next to or inside a home’s electrical panel. Then, the power strip becomes a second line of defense instead of the only protection against lightning or power surges coming into your home.
Whole-house surge protection systems can range from $250 to $900, and should be installed by a licensed electrician. (Tip: You may save some money by checking to see if there's a Big Deal for whole-house surge protection in your area.)
Depending on your home’s electric panel and setup, installation for a whole-house surge protector should last about an hour.
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Scott Nelson, owner of highly rated Scott Nelson Electric in Mundelein, Illinois, recommends surge protectors to all his customers. He's also installed one in his own home, as he previously told Angie's List.
“It makes good economic sense,” he says. “Even a small surge, like one that shoots 220 volts through your 110-volt lines, can blow out all the light bulbs in your house. The protector preserves against minor surges you might not even see, and extends the life of your appliances.”