Staying safe in a lightning storm
By Mike Sokol
Can RV SnapPads under your leveling jacks help reduce damage to your RV’s electrical system from a nearby lightning ground strike?
I’m beginning to study this concept just in time for lightning season. For many years I made the claim that insulating pads under your RV jack stands would do nothing to protect your RV from electrical damage in the event of a direct lightning strike. And I believe that is still true, having performed a recent insurance inspection for a $500,000 coach that suffered a direct lightning strike on its roof.
However, for every direct strike, there are probably hundreds of smaller lightning ground strikes in the area that energizes the campground wiring. And it’s possible that insulating jack pads could prevent something I’m now referring to as a whiplash effect through the ground and where a DC pulse lightning current damages more of your electrical system due to secondarily grounding your RV, rather than insulating it from the ground. Join me as I begin to study this phenomenon and review technical papers on how insulating your leveling jacks might reduce electrical damage to your RV.
Here’s a screenshot of the video that got me interested in the effect, and why I contacted SnapPad about the possibility that their jack pads may provide extra protection for your RV’s electronics from nearby lightning ground hits. Note that when lightning hits the earth it doesn’t go straight down. Instead it takes multiple paths across the earth in varying depths in an attempt to find true earth ground.
Now let’s imagine that your RV is sitting on its metal jack stands on the wet ground, so it has a fairly good connection there. These jack pads are acting like a secondary grounding rod (albeit a rather small one). Now instead of the lightning electrical pulse coming into your RV from the pedestal, what if the DC pulse comes across the earth, is picked up by your grounded jack stands, and then tries to leave your RV via your shore power ground connection in the pedestal. I can only imagine that will wreak havoc with all of your expensive RV electronics.
Now as I’ve noted many times before, nothing can stand in the way of a direct lightning hit to your RV, and only a metal-skin RV can shield the occupants (you) from the lightning going directly through your RV. But I do believe that insulating pads from a company like SnapPad can reduce and possibly eliminate damage to your RV electronics if lightning hits nearby and you’re still plugged into shore power.
This is just a preliminary announcement of a study that’s now being funded by SnapPad. They’ve commissioned me to create a report on what I find, good or bad. So watch for more updates to my study as we get into lightning season soon and I find more papers and studies on this effect. Now if only I could build a 30-foot-tall Tesla coil in the back yard to make a real lightning simulator. And then I have to find someone to loan me their RV. We shall see….
For more information on my study, please visit SnapPad.com where they’ll soon begin publishing the results of my study.
Let’s stay heart safe out there…
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
Email me at mike (at) noshockzone.org with your questions.
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