Think rubber tires will protect your RV from lightning? Think again!

13

When lightning is striking all around, do you think your RV, riding atop rubber tires, will protect you from being struck? Well, hate to spoil your confidence, but they won’t. The fact is, in some RVs you will be heavily protected, but in others you might as well just stand outside. Learn more from RV electricity expert Mike Sokol in this two-minute segment of Ask the RV Expert, then read safety tips from Mike below.

From Mike Sokol:
So here’s the takeaway from my video. Standing on something insulated, or the rubber tires of your car or RV, won’t protect you from harm if your RV sustains a direct lightning hit. What tends to protect you inside of a metal car or RV (or other metal box) is something called the Faraday Cage Effect, which is basically the magnetic shell that forms around the metal body of the vehicle when an electric field contacts it, and which bends lightning around the outside of your car or RV, not letting it pass through to the inside of the vehicle where you happen to be sitting. But this Faraday Cage Effect doesn’t occur with an all-fiberglass or fabric (tent) RV, so don’t even think about riding out a lightning storm in one of those.

In the final analysis, while the safest place to be in a lightning storm is in a permanent structure like a club house at a campground, you may not have access to one if you’re boondocking due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In that case it’s best to unplug your RV shore power cord from any external power source (such as a portable generator), and ride out the storm in your fully metal-skinned RV, or your tow vehicle if you have an all fiberglass or pop-up tent RV.

Let’s play safe out there. —Mike

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.
Join Mike’s popular and informative Facebook group.
And you don’t want to miss Mike’s webcasts on his YouTube channel.

For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign.

##RVDT1313;##RVDT1436

Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

13 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Jerry N
1 month ago

Would it be ok to ride it out in the cab of my class c, which has the Ford e450 chassis?

Wilf Bussey
6 months ago

So, I assume from Mike’s video that even if a fibreglass-skinned RV is framed with aluminum the Faraday Cage Effect will not occur. Is it correct that the aluminum frame offers no protection from lightning?

WEB
6 months ago

My mother always told the story when she was younger and living on the farm and during one storm a bolt shot from their phone mounted on the wall across the room to the hand pump at the sink. They assumed the lighting hit a telephone pole and traveled to their farmstead and found a good ground in the kitchen!
As to disconnecting your RV from a portable generator? Why? I know why you unplug from the service pedestal, but that is the next thing I would do is to start the genny and continue to enjoy the comforts it would bring.
Also I had worked for the power company and heard a few stories of people trapped in vehicles after hitting a pole. The high tension wire would be sparking and dancing on the vehicle… you are practically safe in there, the high voltage will go around the metal shell, DO NOT STEP OUT as scary as it may be!

Michael Flank
6 months ago

So does that mean that all class A motor homes except for Prevost are unsafe in a lightning storm?? All current production Class A motor homes are clad in fiberglass.

Goldie
6 months ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Does it need to be a full metal frame or is a metal “roll bar” over the cockpit enough to protect?

Goldie
6 months ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

I don’t but I will try to find one. I have seen them on a factory tour and can personally verify the sturdiness since I totaled a coach with one. It’s a Spartan K2 chassis with a roll bar around 2″. In diameter that is welded to the frame and extends over the cockpit area. The coach is an Entegra Aspire if that will help.

Donald N Wright
6 months ago

I have never been in a lightning storm. Here in Texas we what we call Thunder Storms, but we get lightning & thunder, rain, wind, hail, sometimes Tornadoes.

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
6 months ago

Hi, Donald. Here’s what Wikipedia says: “A thunderstorm, also known as an electrical storm or a lightning storm, ….” And last week I heard the weather person on KOMO news radio in Seattle mention the current “thunder boomers.” 😆 —Diane at RVtravel.com

Alan Day
6 months ago
Reply to  RV Staff

Hi, Diane!…and you’re right, of course. But, as my son once told me, “Dad, if it’s on Wikipedia, it HAS to be right!…you’re not allowed to post anything on the internet unless it’s true!”….I still laugh at that one!!!

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
6 months ago
Reply to  Alan Day

Hi, Alan. OK. Here’s a quote from Business Insider: “Yes, standing under a tree in a lightning storm is extremely dangerous.” That should count for something, right? And watch out for those thunder boomers (official meteorological term). 😆 —Diane at RVtravel.com

Mark B
6 months ago

Yes, lucky you. No lightening storms. Because Texas does not have lightening storms, it is ok to play golf during your Thunder Storms. Just be sure when not swinging with your metal club, you are holding your umbrella with a metal shaft while standing under the trees. This is perfectly safe because lightening is not attracted to golf clubs or umbrellas.