Do Air Conditioners Attract Lightning?
Air conditioners, the technology that allows us to turn our bedroom into a dark and cool cave for our hibernation. Aircon is necessary for comfort and almost every home will have it. It is a safe thing to have and generally won’t harm you in any way. With annual aircond service, it’ll stay performing at its peak level in providing cool comfort for you and your loved ones. It has come to our attention that some people are concerned because the air conditioner has an outdoor unit which is a metal object. The idea comes when there’s a weather storm and scary lightning flashes here and there. Then people thought to themselves, do air conditioners attract lightning?
No, air conditioners do not attract lightning. Metal part of the outdoor condenser unit of the AC does not attract lightning but it conducts it. You can still use your AC during a thunderstorm but it is not recommended. As a matter of fact, it is advisable to pull the plug off the walls to protect it from power surge.
What attracts lightning?
It’s hard to determine what attracts lightning. Metal objects do not attract them.
Some resources state that height, pointy shape and how isolated an object is are the dominant factors that determine where the lightning will strike.
Why should we turn off our AC during thunderstorms?
Lightning strikes are unpredictable. However, the good news is that lightning striking homes are rare occasions.
However if it does, then it will affect the entire neighbourhood. Most neighbourhoods have interconnected power lines.
The electrical surge from the lightning will be passed on to every home wiring in the area.
Turning off AC during thunderstorms is a highly recommended approach to prevent it from getting damaged.
About 5 billion joules of energy can be delivered through the wires even before it triggers the breaker. The damage caused to your air conditioner can be unrepairable.
An AC has circuit boards and wiring. In the case of a lightning strike, these components will get burnt and melted.
It basically fries up your entire air conditioning unit. Repairing it will be like constructing an aircon unit from scratch. Every component of it will be affected.
We might as well buy a new air conditioner after that.
However, this is not always the case. The power surge could cause hidden problems with your air conditioner.
In most of the scenarios, these problems won’t come to light until after a few months later.
The same risk goes to all of your other electrical appliances – laptop, television, refrigerator. It is best to make a rule of thumb to unplug all of this expensive equipment during thunderstorms.
Can we use AC when it rains?
It is usually not necessary to turn on the AC when it rains. The cool air from the rain outside would have been able to cool us well even with the fans off.
But, in case you do need to do so, it’s perfectly safe to run the AC. The outdoor unit of the air conditioner is designed to be able to work under the rainy weather.
You don’t have to cover the AC unit as well when it rains. In fact, the outdoor unit should never be covered at all. Rain cannot cause damage to it.
As a matter of fact, using the AC to warm the interior of your house can make your home much more comfortable.
The AC will draw out the moisture from the inside of your house. This lower humidity level makes us feel less sticky as we don’t sweat that often.
There is one thing to note. Most outdoor units of the AC are either put on the ground or attached to the exterior wall.
Be on the lookout to check if there’s any flooding that submerges your outdoor unit even if it’s partially under the standing water.
If this happens, you should turn off the system. Get your aircond contractor to perform inspection on the AC unit before attempting to use it.
To prevent this, make sure the drainage around your home works fine. Sometimes, accumulated dried leaves can cause a clog that raises the water level.
Having a routine cleanup of the drain should be in order to keep your home surroundings safe for your family as well as for your AC.
How to protect your AC from a thunderstorm?
Although air conditioners do not attract lightning, there are a few things that we can do to help it last longer and protect against the elements.
Install a surge protector for your air conditioner
The surge protector functions to shield your air conditioner from power surge. You can contact your local aircond service technician to install it for you.
Though it can be easily bought online, it should only be installed by professionals.
The surge protector can detect if there are spikes of voltage that may damage the air conditioner. It then diverts the energy to the grounding system, protecting the AC from taking all that voltage.
The device comes with a joule energy rating. The higher the value, the better it can perform in terms of protecting your air conditioner.
A surge protector may protect your electrical system from sudden voltage surge but it cannot protect a structure against a direct lightning strike.
Install lightning protection system for your home
Do note that a surge protector does not completely protect your aircon from lightning damage.
Another additional protection that you can add to your home to provide better coverage is by installing a home lightning protection system. When properly installed, the system can help prevent 99% of lightning damage.
A lightning protection system can consist of lightning rods, main conductors, ground as well as surge protectors. It functions by providing a pathway for the lightning to be directed to the ground.
A whole-house lightning protection may not be cheap but considering that it can save you from potentially higher cost of the damage, then it will make the investment worthwhile.
Turn off power at the breaker
This can be inconvenient and uncomfortable to do as turning off the power at the breaker basically means that it will set you in darkness. There’s also a risk of prolonged weather storms.
So, anything frozen in your fridge will be at the risk of melting and getting spoiled. There’s also no fan that you can turn on except those hand-powered traditional ones.
Having all that said, it is one of the most efficient ways to keep all of your electrical devices protected.
All these efforts combined will create the ultimate protection against lightning, not only for your air conditioners but also for your home as a whole.
You should also check with your insurance to make sure that the coverage includes your home and electronics.
If lightning somehow cooked your air conditioner, get in touch with your local aircond service expert. They can help diagnose the damage and determine if any repairs are possible.
Qualified aircond technicians will also have the skills to ensure that your AC is well grounded if fix is possible.
We hope this post has been helpful to answer all your questions on “do air conditioners attract lightning”.
Sol Aircond Service is a trusted aircond service provider in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. We are a one-stop aircond service company serving both residential and commercial air conditioning systems. Get your home cool and comfy with us. Get in touch today!