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Solar Flare Electro Magnetic Pulse effect on Electrical appliances?

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Supressed

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Hi,

I have read about EMP on wikipedia but I am still confused about its effect on appliances.

1) If the appliance is not plugged in to the mains ac supply but appliance is on, does the appliance still fry? (I.e if appliance is on but running from battery)
2) If appliance is off but still plugged into ac mains supply, does it fry?
3) If appliance is off and unplugged, does it fry?
4) If appliance frys, what exactly would fry and therefore what spare parts may you need for various appliances if you were preparing for an EMP solar flare.

I read here; AusSurvivalist - EMP Protection
"Protecting electrical equipment is simple if it can be unplugged from AC outlets, phone systems, or long antennas. But that assumes that you won't be using it when the EMP strikes. That isn't all that practical and--if a nuclear war were drawn out or an attack occurred in waves spread over hours or days-- you'd have to either risk damage to equipment or do without it until things had settled down for sure.

One simple solution is to use battery-operated equipment which has cords or antennas of only 30 inches or less in length. This short stretch of metal puts the device within the troughs of the nuclear-generated EMP wave and will keep the equipment from getting a damaging concentration of electrons. Provided the equipment isn't operated close to some other metal object (i.e., within 8 feet of a metal girder, telephone line, etc.), it should survive without any other precautions being taken with it.

If you don't want to buy a wealth of batteries for every appliance you own or use a radio set up with longer than 30-inch antenna, then you'll need to use equipment that is "hardened" against EMP."

Is this true?
 

enjunear

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That's the basic premise. What you need to understand is that an EMP is like any other electromagnetic fields in space (air). If you think about regular broadcast FM radio, that is a similar phenomenon (but at a significantly lower power). When FM radio waves hit the antenna on your car or portable radio, they are easily picked up by the antenna because it has a length that is close to one-quarter of a wavelength of the incoming signal (e.g. it resonates near the frequency that it incident upon it). Since the antenna resonates at the same frequency as the incoming signal, energy can easily move from the E-/M-field to the antenna, and into the wires connecting it to the radio's receiver circuit. Since they are well-matched, energy goes into the receiver, which filters the signal, mixes it and amplifies it, such that you hear the baseband information being broadcast (audio/music).

A similar thing happens with an EMP, except that the antenna is your household wiring, and the "receiver" is anything plugged into that wiring (TV, computer, refrigerator, alarm clock, etc). The EMP is a very high-intensity electromagnetic wave. The wires in your house act like the antenna, so when the EM wave is near resonant with some wiring in your house, the wiring acts like a good antenna... converting the electromagnetic field into a high voltage/current on your house wiring. By injecting very large voltages/currents into your household appliances, you will wreak all sorts of havoc. Typically you'll cause capacitors to breakdown (over-voltage), diodes to burn up (over-current), transformers to burn up (melted windings, over-current), and similar too-much-power related phenomena.

The author states that having leads < 30" long will help protect you. This is a good place to start, but I'm unsure how much help it will be without looking at the actual voltage/current induced by the EMP. This will be somewhat dependent upon what impedance characteristics your device presents at the frequencies where the EMP contains lots of energy. Talking to someone with a good EMI/EMC background would be very enlightening on this subject.

Overall, I'd agree that unplugging the device would help you (detaches the device from the "antenna"). Running from a battery with short power leads would be helpful (very small antenna, reduces the amount of energy that it will pick up from the EMP... like using the wrong sized antenna on your radio, it just doesn't pick up the signal well at all). Leaving a device unpowered but still connected to the house wiring would still cause it to be subject to the high voltage/currents if an EMP happened, so that probably wouldn't help you much at all (other than the isolation provided by the switch, which may not be worth much with several thousand volts on the wires).
 

Supressed

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Interesting and well explained, thank you.

So given that its the wiring that's the antenna, even if you wired your house to your own supply of batteries(not using mains at all), you would still have the same problem.

Call me paranoid, but I think I am going to be unplugging every expensive electrical appliance I have, from this point on :)
 

enjunear

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If we have high-altitude nuclear detonations (which are a source of EMPs), then I think saving your appliances are the least of your concerns. Stockpiling bullets, guns, water and MRE's might be the better direction to go ;-)
 

Supressed

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I'm doing that too, but I couldn't live without my laptop...It has my survival dictionary within.

---------- Post added at 16:57 ---------- Previous post was at 16:52 ----------

More questions about antenae;
Does a HDMI DVI cable carry voltage? If power lead was unplugged HDMI cable could still fry the laptop??

Surely anything long and copper will conduct a big voltage? Other than frying the systems, couldn't it be a potential electrocution danger to the person using the system?
 

betwixt

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I think you are being paranoid but also missing the point.

ANY conductor will act as an antenna, it doesn't matter what type or purpose it was designed for, it doesn't even have to be wire. It just happens that household wiring is particularly susceptible because of it's length both inside and outside the house and because it is frequently wired in a loop (ring main). Consider that if your laptop has a metal case or even a metal sputtered plastic case, this could also induce enough current to fry it's contents. You never use an external mouse or charger unit do you?

Does your house have any metal structures in it? For example roof gutters and downpipes, these might carry hundreds of amps and either spark causing fire or cause physical damage if they buckle in the heat. Do you have copper water pipes? These too will cause problems, particularly if you use them as earthing points for any appliances. Are your walls lined with aluminum backed insulation panels, they would fry.

Is your hard disk shielded against extreme magnetic fields, most would be completely wiped, including their control tracks if an EMP was within range. Forget about using USB sticks instead, the voltages induced in their internal circuits would erase them, probably permanently.

Enjunear is right, forget about saving your DVD collection and start thinking cave man style, there would be no electricity, or gas or any other kind of fuel. No water unless you can manually pump it from your own well, no telephones, vehicles would be knocked out and of course you would be in your own for medical attention. All surface water and dry land would be contaminated so you would need to rely on food and drink stocks and they wouldn't last long, especially if others also survived.

Ever thought about yourself as a conductor, chances are your own height is enough to induce enough voltage to injure or kill you.

It's far better NOT to worry about it, the possibility of it happening is slim and the chances of surviving it are remote. You could stockpile supplies and run around in a medievil style suit of armour with a lightning conductor on your head, it might give some protection but I doubt it would do much for your street credibility!

Brian.
 

Supressed

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Thanks for replying; I'm getting the idea. Basically I am pretty screwed if it happens. I kinda guessed that, but I didn't quite realise how extremely screwed I would be. I really liked my dvd collection as well :)

So, assuming I survive;
[I'm not that tall and I sleep a lot/sit down a lot so hopefully I won't conduct anything. (not sure that being horizontal will help) :) ]

Conclusions; I need to be printing survival info out! Not leaving it on my laptop.

I currently distill sea water with an electric distiller. Wholesale Water Distiller - Product Picture from Henan Baistra Industries Corp. to give you an idea. WOULD THIS LIKELY FRY IF UNPLUGGED?
I hoping to power this with a bike powered generator (I have a Dc permanent magnet alternator) - would this likely fry?
Would unconnected 24v dc batteries likely fry?
I'll have to rethink my water options if so. Guess I could get a chemistry distilling kit and distill on the fire? Would glass fry?

I assume solar panels and wind generator would fry given how much wiring it takes to sort them out?

I am assuming my vegetable garden would be ok? Therefore I would have food? Please tell me potential problems here!
I am very proficient with a bow so could kill small game with that, I also have a .22 air rifle but guess pellets run out sometime.
I am able to make and cook on a fire using wood from outside.

Thanks for the info so far. I am paranoid, but no harm in being able to look after yourself if the worst happens is there :)
 

enjunear

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Fire + kettle + long, coiled metal tube = distillery (no electronic parts)

If the EMP were close enough, the electric distiller would be shot, so would the generator. 24V batteries might be fine... not too much metal, mostly energy stored and released by a chemical reaction. Solar would be bad... lots of conductive material to let energy flow across. Wind generator... same issue as the bike generator or any other electric motor, lots of wires and small metal bits that would vaporize when high current/voltage is imposed onto them. In that case, having charged batteries wouldn't do you much good, other than to make a resistance heater for starting a fire... and no way to charge them back up.

For power you could look into a diesel engine, since they can be very simple to operate (no spark plug, just pull and go). However, if an EMP hit, getting access to fuel would be VERY difficult (extremely high demand), so that may not be feasible for the long term.

Like Brian said... caveman-style. Watch any wilderness survival show and take notes... Dual Survival, Man Vs. Wild, etc. Hunting, cooking, preserving meats, basic farming, identification of edible plants and berries, etc (think indians/hunter-gatherer type of living).
 

Supressed

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Bio diesel ; Jatropha - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bio diesel seeds is an option for growing. I actually have some seeds but haven't tried growing them yet so I could develop an engine for power.
But I wouldn't need any power if I didn't have to power my distiller(fried) and didn't have to power my hydroponics system (fried).

So my food crop is fine then? ? ?

Never heard of 'dual survival' before - thanks, i'll give it a look.

Becoming a caveman is much harder than it seems (learnt from experience). Living in the wilderness is extremely difficult imo. There isn't as much wildlife around to eat these days(+ its illegal most of the time) because of overfishing, overpopulation and destroying of habitats.

Genuinely, thank you for all of your knowledge.
 

Supressed

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Bio diesel ; Jatropha - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bio diesel seeds is an option for growing. I actually have some seeds but haven't tried growing them yet so I could develop an engine for power.
But I wouldn't need any power if I didn't have to power my distiller(fried) and didn't have to power my hydroponics system (fried).

So my food crop is fine then? ? ?

Never heard of 'dual survival' before - thanks, i'll give it a look.

Becoming a caveman is much harder than it seems (learnt from experience). Living in the wilderness is extremely difficult imo. There isn't as much wildlife around to eat these days(+ its illegal most of the time) because of overfishing, overpopulation and destroying of habitats.

Genuinely, thank you for all of your knowledge.
 

betwixt

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I agree on the diesel topic, in fact the reason I have backup Diesel power here is because it's pretty much foolproof (I probably have to eat my words) and very reliable but it does use an electronic voltage regulator module. This is fully encased in metal so it will probably survive. Diesel engines are also very forgiving when it comes to fuel, they will burn most bio-fuels including vegetable oil but consider the amount of fuel and the relatively low return from growing your own. Real bio-Diesel is also made using several chemical processess including the use of ethanol which you may not be able to get hold of.

Forget solar power unless you keep the PV panels in protective boxes until they are needed. Remember they are basically arrays of diodes and are eassily damaged if you reverse voltage across them or apply more than their normal output voltage across them. Consider that a large section of the North American power grid was knocked out by solar flares from 93 million miles away a few years ago and multiply the effect by a thousand and from less than 5 miles away.

EMP as a weapon is designed as a widespread killer, not something to mess up your iPhone ! Don't think in terms of losing your electronic devices, think in terms of your cutlery welding itself together!

As for lying down, again it would make no difference, the polarization of the magnetic and electrical fields would be scattered wildly and so would the destructive effects they produce. If an EMP weapon was deployed, it's also worth thinking of the explosive and chemical energy it would release, there would be widespread contamination, possibly radioactive and of course no weather monitoring to track it's spread or analytical tools to verify the safety of any particular area.

Pray it never happens!

Brian.
 

betwixt

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It would help but antennas are just conductors, they change magnetic fluctuations into voltages. Anything conductive will work as an antenna to some degree, whether attached to a radio/TV or something else. This includes any part of any thing that is not an insulator, including all cables, metal enclosures, especially ones forming a loop, girders, rebar, tent poles, and even metal chair legs. Things that naturally carry millionths of Amps will suddenly carry millions of Amps and burn out. Even human bodies will heat up and boil or burn if the induced current is high enough.

Brian.
 

BradtheRad

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Some eye-opening scenarios in this thread. And I thought I knew a few things about EMP.

I take it these are the worst-case things that might happen if the detonation were over our town. A distant EMP would not affect us so severely (as I understand it).

Nevertheless just one EMP detonation could knock out a major city and cause nationwide disruptions. Including panic.

I saw a post mention a protective box. Does this refer by any chance to a 'faraday shield' which is made by putting electronic devices in a solid metal container (steel drum, etc.), then wiring the drum to an earthed rod? That way we can safely store short-wave radio, batteries, flashlights, night vision goggles, medical instruments, etc.

=================

I once heard about a Russian fighter jet that was captured by our side. Our technicians took it apart. They found tube instruments instead of solid state.

Right away they thought "Hmm, the Russians are not as advanced as we are."

Then someone said "Wait a minute. They have solid state technology. So why would they put tube equipment in fighter jets?"

Then someone else said, "Hey, suppose there's an EMP? Their tube equipment would survive. Our jets have transistorized IC's. They would turn to charcoal."

That's when they thought maybe the Russians weren't so backward.
 

Supressed

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Maybe the Russians are backward and its coincidental that their 'prehistoric' technology is more resistant to EMP's :)
Western cultures do seem to have a tendency to think they are 'better' than every one else. Whether that be their economic system, their social system or their technology. I'm surprised this thought: "Hey, suppose there's an EMP? Their tube equipment would survive. Our jets have transistorized IC's. They would turn to charcoal." ever crossed any ones mind.

I think this thread has covered pretty much the worst case scenario (boiling to death/directly when it happens above your town/country?) to the best case scenario (you can unplug your appliances to limit damage and although the grid might go down your batteries and bike generator might survive so you can still make a cup of tea from nettles you just foraged). I'm preparing for all of the potential scenarios starting with bushcraft and ending with setting up my solar PV's to power my appliances.
 

enjunear

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I'm surprised this thought: "Hey, suppose there's an EMP? Their tube equipment would survive. Our jets have transistorized IC's. They would turn to charcoal." ever crossed any ones mind.

There's a reason why platform integrators like Lockheed and Boeing put in requirements for EMP- and nuclear-hardened systems... specifically flight critical control systems and communications radios ;-) It's just more and better EMI filtering when you get down to the implementation (sometimes it gets ugly, but generally it's more over-braid on cable bundles, better filters at the I/O on the unit, etc.)
 

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