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Beware the Florida Lightning! Just lost 3 CMB100D RGB Controllers and 2 Starnds of C9 RGB Lights!


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Posted (edited)

This is mainly for the folks that live in Florida, "The Lightning Capital of the United States"!   Last Wednesday, May 12, 2021 we had one of our horrendous thunder-lightning storms along with some hail.   Well, that storm put a lightning strike right into 3 of my RGB Controllers, two suffered severe damage, one, unit #04 had an area that was scorched, and the components were literally melted into a blob on the PCB, totally destroyed them, not only on the front, but the back of the PCB was also scorched back and burned behind the area, along with the interior, backside of the green box.  #05 also suffered the same fate, but worse, it had 2 areas that were scorched and 2-areas where the components were melted into a black, scorched blob mess, one of these at the light port output areas, the back of the PCB was also scorched in both places, and the interior of this controllers green box had also been scorched.  #03 controlled my garden trellises I use off season as lighting in my garden area and is moved for use during my Christmas Show, however no visible damage can or could be seen, the port outputs were no longer lighting anything attached to them, controller powered up, but apparently internal damage along the lighting outputs were damaged, so the controller was fried as well.

These 3 controllers are {or were} used in my off hours season for lighting the walkway on my handicap ramp, as well as in the garden area.  I also lost 2 strands of 50 RGB C9 Light strands due to this strike, thankfully the lights on the trellises and the other 2 strands of 50 C9 RGB bulbs were not damaged, but the 3 CCB100D Controllers ended up being toast.

From now on, when I know we have any of these lightning storms coming {hearing thunder in the distance}, I'm going outside and unplug all Cat5 cables and power cords from controllers, will also disconnect the lights from each port as well from now on.

And don't let folks fool you into believing lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place, because this is the 2nd time in 3 years that we've had lightning hit close to or directly on our handicap ramp, the first time it took out some old standard mini incandescent strands and also burned a large swath up and around the ramp, that one was a weird hit, but happened almost in the same exact manner as the strike that took out the RGB lights and controllers this year {2021}.

When the lightning strike hit, it shook our entire house like a mild earthquake, lights all went off in the neighborhood for a few seconds, but when power came back on, and the 2 strands had only a few bulbs lit, with one just slowly fading with RGBW, I knew the strand was going to be toasted.    When I took hem down and tested them, they wouldn't light on a good controller, tried 3 different known working controllers that were packed away until Display Set Up time, and none would turn the bulbs on, so definitely fried.

Just want folks that may be new to Florida to be very wary of our afternoon thunder-lightning storms, so if you live in Florida, and one of these severe type storms approaches, you may want to consider unplugging any/and all controllers that may be powered and in use, including all cat5 connections.  I first unplug my controllers from electrical power, then unplug the cat5 cables.  I now use 2 short 6-inch cat5 cables that goes into female to female cat5 pass through blocks,  these are outside the RGB Controller box for quick disconnect of my cat5 cables now, this way I don't have to "open" a controller box to unplug the cat5 cabling.

I am only posting this to let others know what can happen here in "sunny Florida" when the weather goes into our lightning storm season {late Spring and Summer usually}.

 

Keep your controllers and lights protected!   And, yes, we actually have a whole home lightning protection system in place, but it didn't stop this one from doing some serious damage to my CCB100D controllers!

Edited by Orville
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  • Orville changed the title to Beware the Florida Lightning! Just lost 3 CMB100D RGB Controllers and 2 Starnds of C9 RGB Lights!

The 'strike' does not have to hit your premises. I serviced Supermarket POS and we had a huge (for SF Bay area) storm, the pole across the street was hit, BUT the fail was the blown RS232 BiSync-Serial board connected from the front to the back office (~200') in conduit under the slab. A second store had the same failure (I did not know where the strike was), but in both case NO 120V side damage was noted IN THE STORE.

BTW  ELK (makes security equipment)  makes phone line surge suppressors, just make sure the Green is connected close to the real ground point (long cords don't count. Ground rod/metal pipe)

https://www.elkproducts.com/why-you-need-surge-suppression/

RJ31/38X 8 Position Modular Jack is standard in /out  that allows the Alarm to interrupt (drops) any phone call, to notify the monitoring agency LOR uses the same 4-5 pins as a tel line

 

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3 hours ago, TheDucks said:

The 'strike' does not have to hit your premises. I serviced Supermarket POS and we had a huge (for SF Bay area) storm, the pole across the street was hit, BUT the fail was the blown RS232 BiSync-Serial board connected from the front to the back office (~200') in conduit under the slab. A second store had the same failure (I did not know where the strike was), but in both case NO 120V side damage was noted IN THE STORE.

BTW  ELK (makes security equipment)  makes phone line surge suppressors, just make sure the Green is connected close to the real ground point (long cords don't count. Ground rod/metal pipe)

https://www.elkproducts.com/why-you-need-surge-suppression/

RJ31/38X 8 Position Modular Jack is standard in /out  that allows the Alarm to interrupt (drops) any phone call, to notify the monitoring agency LOR uses the same 4-5 pins as a tel line

 

Yes, just the static alone can cause damage.

I lost about 2 miles of coax , my entire security system, all cameras, NVR, whole house surge system, well pump, building interior from a major lightning strike due to an improperly grounded satelight dish.

The company that installed it floated it over the ground on the utility pole.

Every under ground junction box exploded and left plastic shrapnel in my Forrest.

Luckly a contrac tor was sent out from EarthLink and he let us video his inspection and findings. Found his own company liable for the floating ground. 

All video ballans were destroyed.

The dish took a direct hit.
 

That was almost as close to Florida in Alabama as yoi can get and almost every storm that came through would make my hair stand up.

I love lightning though- Gods light show

 

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Like the others have said, this extends to more than just FL.  The lightning doesn't even need to strike the ground, anything connected to you, or even be all that close.

There can be (even on a clear day) a huge voltage differential between the air and earth (I can't even pretend to understand it myself:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_electricity).  Thankfully there is not a lot of amperage behind all that voltage day-to-day.  But it is there and goes somewhere.

Like everything electrical, without one you don't have much of the other.  Voltage can be hundreds of thousands of volts, but if there is only 1 electron back there aint nuttin gonna happen Mabel.

Add a little lifting force, some unstable air mass, and a little bit of moisture and those charges build and add up.  You'll get zillions of volts at zillions of amps (a quick google says zillions of volts is around 300 MILLION volts, and zillions of amps is around 30 THOUSAND).  Those numbers are hard to understand when we are down here working with 120v circuits at 15A.

But the one thing I do know is that whenever there is current flowing, you are generating (at 300,000,000 volts at 30,000 A coming from 35,000 feet in the sky down to ground that would be referred to as a MOTHERTON of current) Electro Magnetic Waves.  You know what likes to pick up those waves?  Antennas.  Know what makes a great antenna?  All that CAT 5 laying in your yard.  Know what happens when an antenna picks up an Electro Magnetic wave?  It generates current.  And that current goes straight into your controller (or security system, satellite dish, etc).  Enough current and you won't see the magic smoke escape, but your electronics are just as dead.

Thankfully those waves dissipate fairly quickly, and the chances of having a close enough strike or flash (yes, there is lighting that stays in a cloud or goes from cloud to cloud) are very low.  But very low is not 0.  And if it does happen - you are along for the ride - there is not much you are going to do about it if.  Make sure you follow the codes for grounding - it's about all you can do.  Don't expect grounding to save you - we are talking about electricity coming from several miles in the sky, through air (a GREAT insulator).  What amounts to a 10AWG wire connected to a copper rod in the ground aint gonna be enough to contain it! :)

In the RS485 world, things are expected to work at around 19 volts (-7 to +12) at currents around 100 micro amps.  Of course they are actually built to higher standards.  But hundreds of millions of volts at tens of thousands of amps can generate some serious EM, even some distance away.  I'm no scientist and I think the amount of EM generated decreases by the square of the distance, and then it needs to be converted in the antenna back to current, causing more loss.  But I can tell you that a couple of people a year fall victim. 

More importantly however is YOUR safety:  Please remember - if you can hear the thunder you are close enough to be struck by the lightning.  Lightning can travel MANY MILES out of a stormcloud before turning earthbound.  "Bolt from the blue" or "out of the blue" are not just metaphors.  Many people injured by lightning, have been during crystal clear skies (especially AFTER the storm appears to have moved on). 

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Posted (edited)

Lightning has struck my St Louis house twice also.  July 3 2003.  Every low voltage thing in the house blew.  I was looking out the kitchen window and my hair stood up and boom it hit the tree about 30 feet from me making a gigantic crack and peeling off the bark.  It came in the house and singed the silver off the mirrors.  Peeled off wallpaper.  Blew out the tv,  answering machine, caller id box, and all the phone lines never worked again.  There were two holes in the window shade near the blown night stand clock.  About 80 feet away it blew out the door bell, and both garage door openers.  It knocked out a saw dust fan in my wood shop which was not even powered up.  The biggest mess was a small hole in the roof and a trail into my bedroom where it popped out dry wall nails and blew dry wall dust.   The hole in the roof was from a branch of the tree that was hit.   I had an insurance claim on all that damage.

Years later my Halloween display was hit a few days before ToT.   I think I lost 7 CMB100D and 9 stands of 50 pixels.  It came in to the house over the Cat5 and melted the RS485 and blew the sound board but the pc survived along with the transmitter.  FYI LOR was very nice back them to give me a discount to recover from this disaster in time for Christmas.

Still I'm not so sure I agree with the level precautions. I have known people who cant leave the house without unplugging the toaster and cant leave the clothes washer or dish washer running cause they may explode or leak.    But that's just me and I find this funny. 

 

 

Edited by ItsMeBobO
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