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General => General Forum => Topic started by: MountainDon on July 22, 2014, 09:55:43 AM

Title: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on July 22, 2014, 09:55:43 AM
Lightning!  Lightning struck the cabin and three tall pines nearby. It seems likely this happened Wednesday evening, July 16. There was a severe thunderstorm warning for the area that evening. We were not at the cabin; we had left on the 11th. The rain gauge indicated 1.75" of rain and the water tracks on the slopes would seem to back that up.

We arrived Thursday morning the 17th. While Don was outside turning on the power to the inverter, Karen was inside puzzling over the pieces of plastic debris on the floor inside the cabin. When Don closed the breaker to power up the inverter he was greeted by a pop from inside the inverter and then a curl of smoke; the breaker then popped open. Don went inside. He noticed the plastic on the floor was from the wall plate cover for the 24 volt ceiling fan. Looking at the wall he saw the fan control dangling from the wall box. The wall was slightly blackened at one corner of the box and electronic parts were blackened as well.

Damages we discovered included:

The Outback VFX3524M power inverter / charger is non functional and has something burnt inside; smells like the magic smoke escaped.

The Outback FM60 charge controller is non functional and we can see some small electronic parts have been blown open. The magic smoke has definitely escaped. When unmounted from the wall various plastic and semi conductor shrapnel fell out.

The data cables interconnecting the charge controller, hub4 and inverter / charger have blackened connectots. The socket at the charge controller end blew off the circuit board.

The circuit breaker between the PV panels and the charge controller exploded. The top of the casing blew off and a hole was blown out one side. The breaker to the batteries tripped but is apparently undamaged.

The PVC conduit that carries the wires from the PV panels up to the cabin charge controller exploded open in ten different spots over a hundred and forty foot run. At one point the insulation on one of the wires is melted. All breaks occurred at the glue joints.  ???  Only two joints in the 140 feet were undamaged. Further up the hill the conduit was undamaged.

The lightning arrestor on the PV mount pole has the end blown out of it. The ground wire from the arrestor to ground lug has melted insulation.

One fuse in the 24 to 12 volt converter blew violently, incinerating the fuse housing and leaving mostly ash behind. The second fuse housing was intact but very blackened. Unfortunately replacing the fuses did not restore functionality.

The LED Christmas lights strung along the porch and north wall to the shed were severely damaged. One 5 foot stretch had all the LED’s and their sockets blown over a 7 to 10 foot radius. At the back end of the cabin the light wire was blown apart, completely severed. There are flame or electric arc marks on a one foot length of fascia board along the roof gable end.

A join in the aluminum gutter on the south side of the roof was blown apart. There are light grey ghostly trace marks like contour marks on a topo map on the white paint.

There are black scorch marks around the bolt head where a ground wire connects to the metal roof.

At the gazebo where the 120 VAC electrical conduit emerges from the buried line there used to be a 90 degree PVC elbow fitting where the wires enter the gazebo wall. That elbow was blown apart and pieces found up to 40 feet away. That circuit is entirely external to the cabin. The circuit breaker buzzed loudly when trying to reset it. Testing indicates the GFCI outlet that is first in the chain of electrical connections, blew. At least with the GFCI temporarily jumpered the breaker resets.

Three trees approximately 20 to 30 feet from the SW cabin corner show ample evidence of lightning strike. Bark chunks, strips blown off and many small branches littered the ground. We can see strips blown off way up the trunks and closer to the ground. Strangely in the more or less center area of the three trees that were struck  there is an equal sized tree that was untouched.

When I rewired things to by pass the toasted inverter / charger and temporarily connect generator power to the cabin the fan on the propane wall heater ran and would not shut off. That fan is only supposed to run when the heater is hot. There are small scorch marks on the receptacle and heater fan power plug ground connector. One thought is that the lightning power entered the heater via the exterior direct vent ductwork. The ground wire from the fan cord connects to the fan motor which is bolted to the metal combustion chamber. The thermostat switch is mounted to the exterior of the combustion chamber. That switch was found blown apart. ....

The LCD TV will not power up at all. The DVD-R clock lights when plugged in but the unit will not power up. Both were plugged in but the wall outlet was turned off. The TV antenna cable was connected though. The TV antenna lead in wire was connected to a ground rod via one of those coax wire terminal blocks.

The Yamaha inverter generator was connected to the cabin power system via the inverter / charger. The engine starts, but the engine races at maximum speed and there is no power at the outlets. The outlet that is supposed to provide 12 VDC for battery charging produces approx 36+ VDC. It would appear the magic smoke escaped from the generators electronic speed and power control system.

The portable air conditioner ran for 5 seconds and then the LCD display went dark and the motor ceased running. It has not wanted to resume operation.


The good news is that the PV panels are still producing power. The batteries were fully charged with a reading of about 25.3 volts on our arrival and in seemingly good shape. Neither the cabin, out-buildings or the forest caught fire. I wired up a temporary jumper to provide 12 volt DC to the DC powered lights and water pumps. The microwave works as do the other small appliances...using generator power.

Photos to come
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on July 22, 2014, 10:16:09 AM
There is also a small dent in the metal roofing. Not a downward dent as might happen with a falling object striking the roof, but an upward bulge as is struck from below.

It must have been an exciting time with lots going on.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: Redoverfarm on July 22, 2014, 10:16:30 AM
Sounds as if it got you pretty good Don.  I am sure knowing you that you had everything protected or at least thought you did.  Lightning is such a powerful force and it seems irregardless of how we prepare it lets us know who is boss.  Electrical wiring is like a highway for lightning. It can jump to metal several feet away.  Have you pinpointed the location of the initial strike?   Don't remember having these problems with oil lamps and the like. ;)

But on the bright side it could have been a lot worse.  You could have been there when it happened. ;D
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on July 22, 2014, 10:30:47 AM
Hard to say what went on.  There are so many different damages spread around.   

The DC fan control has no direct connection to the AC outlets on the other side of the cabin where the propane heater, A/C, TV and DVD were connected.

The lightning arrestor was visually okay a week before... they can be weakened by previous strikes.... maybe it was failing, maybe it received a couple strikes or a pulse. ??? 

Also on the bright side I have a new-in-box Outback Flexnet DC I can sell as we'll be rebuilding the system in a different form; different equipment.

Also I had decided to take the Honda EU2000i up in the truck. That provided us with a source of AC power for the appliances that were untouched; microwave, kettle, toaster, blender, tool and cell phone chargers...

Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: bayview on July 22, 2014, 11:24:41 AM
Wow! 

I'm sorry about the electrical . . .   

But you were lucky you didn't lose the cabin.

/.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: hpinson on July 22, 2014, 12:59:29 PM
Darn. The best laid plans...

Lightning struck about 300 yards away from our place early last September. Saw the flash, thunder almost at the same time, and a puff of smoke in a Ponderosa.  I went over to look the next day and there was not much left of the tree.

Curious if your arrestor was a Delta? I am told that the MidNite Solar line is considerably more effective:

http://www.midnitesolar.com/products.php?menuItem=products&productCat_ID=23&productCatName=Surge Protection Devices. 

Don't remember why, but if you call their engineer he will walk you through it.  I guess there are strikes that nothing much can protect against.


Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: JRR on July 22, 2014, 02:45:13 PM
Sorry you had the lightning damage, but thanks for sharing the story with us.  Lightning is going to happen, I suppose it is the most frequently happening natural danger that there is. And all land areas seem to be at risk.  A storm cloud system moves along, growing in stored energy ... just "looking" for a land feature to strike.  And suddenly there is a house ... such an unnatural and attractive target.  Made of, and so full of, geo-anomalies ....
.
Happy you are OK.
.
I wonder if the dent in the roof is the result of intense thermal expansion.  Had to bulge either up or down .... ?
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on July 22, 2014, 03:44:41 PM
Curious if your arrestor was a Delta?
Yes. And I was aware that the Midnite was superior ( for many months now);for one thing they have a LED that indicates the unit is still operational.

But I should also have air terminals (lightning rods) on the roofs and really large braided copper down (grounding) wires leading to good ground rods, plates or grids. Apparently.    On the drive down I noticed a distict lack of air terminals on everything except the telephone service buildings.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: hpinson on July 22, 2014, 04:32:04 PM
I have the Delta too.

In other words, extraordinary measures.

If there is any way you can, post some pictures of the damage.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on July 22, 2014, 04:42:57 PM
I have several photos.....  later tonight


Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: Adam Roby on July 22, 2014, 05:01:45 PM
Wow!  That is a scary story, never would have imagined so much chaos.  Sucks that some much was damaged, but I echo the sentiment that firstly neither your or your loved ones were hurt and, thankfully the cabin is still there. 

Would a lightening rod several feet higher than the roof prevented this from happening or reduced the amount of damage?  I guess it is hard to say for sure.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on July 22, 2014, 06:19:37 PM

Would a lightening rod several feet higher than the roof prevented this from happening or reduced the amount of damage?  I guess it is hard to say for sure.

Hard to say with certainty, but my guess now, is Yes. A good chance.  Though if we say that air terminals (lightning rods) would have prevented the lightning that messed with the roof and exterior lights, was that the same lightning that messed with the DC lines to the PV panels, or was that a separate thing?    I grounded the roof panels based on local advice. I now believe I should have researched more and might have then installed air terminals and the uber size 97/16" braided copper) down wires.

Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on July 22, 2014, 06:47:12 PM
Christmas tree LED lights; LED's blown apart, slight scorching on fascia, hard to see with the string still in place

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Fsml20140717_120254_zps356fd522.jpg&hash=f0a1fb9a28c4d066ef686489865545449f03aa81) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/sml20140717_120254_zps356fd522.jpg.html)


Must have been some big sparks flying here. LED light string blown apart. The LED string made a 90 turn at the eye where it then ran to the shed along with the TV coax and a carrier rope. I'm thinking of spraying a clear coat on that to preserve the memory.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Fsml20140717_120357_zpsfec5413b.jpg&hash=e4fb3554bd7c1b2a753a7827bf1bc1b73ccc6aef) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/sml20140717_120357_zpsfec5413b.jpg.html)


Bottom of one of the struck trees. It's difficult to get good photos of the strips torn off in 8 foot lengths farther up thr trunk. Those extended 50 feet or so up the tree.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Fsml20140717_120534_zps9b493643.jpg&hash=4fbd464002cffaf15bd8aed764eb679cfb5af761) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/sml20140717_120534_zps9b493643.jpg.html)


One of the other struck trees. We'll have to wait and see if they are affected.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Fsml20140717_120507b_zpsfdb83b10.jpg&hash=b0f91f40a4066d724729585b95a32c93af829f64) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/sml20140717_120507b_zpsfdb83b10.jpg.html)


Power line entrance to the gazebo.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Fsml20140717_120641_zps6ff4c567.jpg&hash=8be89b2ff4b007ccf617aa3e536f19645a976517) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/sml20140717_120641_zps6ff4c567.jpg.html)

That was a fitting similar to this...

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fimages.lowes.com%2Fproduct%2Fconverted%2F088700%2F088700065826lg.jpg&hash=57b9480935753dbd6ae349faa42dd5ad5ed7dd6c)


The fan speed control. The pot (with the black knob) blew apart and slifgtly scorched the wall as it fragmented the wall plate.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Fsml20140717_122040_zps34d5d006.jpg&hash=1622094cbf09c26f7397628e909c4fd9413f6b85) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/sml20140717_122040_zps34d5d006.jpg.html)


The DC breaker that exploded. This was the breaker at the charge controller in the incoming line.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Fsml20140717_141613_zps68c00e4c.jpg&hash=bc75de341883e82a476ad859a237cee99ba214f7) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/sml20140717_141613_zps68c00e4c.jpg.html)


The FM60 charge controller connections panel. The green data cable connector socket was blown apart. (EDIT: On reflection I think that is the battery temperature cable.) Other assorted debris, some of which is in the bottom of the CC.  Scorch marks.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Fsml20140717_141636_zpsd220b9a8.jpg&hash=20ffece27d953969d48f5a0c0e3f40acca8132e7) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/sml20140717_141636_zpsd220b9a8.jpg.html)

Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on July 22, 2014, 06:47:36 PM
The smallest conduit fracture

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Fsml20140717_123054_zpsc03f6e78.jpg&hash=8b64e152e3d4a58dd21b8d44d04b082db966c808) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/sml20140717_123054_zpsc03f6e78.jpg.html)


One of the longer fractures

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Fsml20140717_123028_zps416abfc7.jpg&hash=4cb163ec287b39588d0cf505e4cc136d2cd36e1f) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/sml20140717_123028_zps416abfc7.jpg.html)


And the one section where the insulation was melted

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Fsml20140717_122824_zps1f6eae98.jpg&hash=ba27f34f61aa8c3b21d3a8d3bf662603a344eb25) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/sml20140717_122824_zps1f6eae98.jpg.html)


Assorted souvenirs. The white pieces are the fan speed control wall plate. The black device is the DC circuit breaker.   In the center are gazebo box parts and some conduit.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Fsml20140717_172648_zps66ef139f.jpg&hash=1a9593cb835cedae7907d17b91a49458456b7f0d) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/sml20140717_172648_zps66ef139f.jpg.html)


The propane heater fan thermostat

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Fsml20140718_083037_zps6e0b679c.jpg&hash=c20aa9058b8f09edf3425dac0068bfdb3c046f18) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/sml20140718_083037_zps6e0b679c.jpg.html)


The plug and receptacle it was plugged into

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Fsml20140718_080918_zps4f3e8179.jpg&hash=6c00e165fed0b044ad6d6f732087ab63431287fa) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/sml20140718_080918_zps4f3e8179.jpg.html)


The roof panel; 24 gauge steel. The photo was taken after I gave the bump a couple of whacks and tried to tighten the screw which was backed off or pulled out about 3/4 inch. I need to get some larger gauge screws to be able to tighten that down correctly.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2FsmlDSC_1428_zps3bcb5d24.jpg&hash=053523b088d9ec3e50377e7b19ab124b15bd007d) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/smlDSC_1428_zps3bcb5d24.jpg.html)


Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: hpinson on July 22, 2014, 07:11:29 PM
This is the most detail I've ever seen on the effect of a lightning strike on an electrical system.  Thank you for posting these- and they should spark some good discussion!
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: DaveOrr on July 22, 2014, 07:14:52 PM
Our place took a hit when I lived in Ontario.
No where near as extreme as yours Don. We lost several sat TV receivers, stereo, a vcr, computer speakers, network switch, both garage door openers a couple of telephones and our amplified TV antenna.

The lightning struck the TV antenna (one of those round plastic ones). It blew the aluminum sticker plate with the manufacturer data on it off and it landed in the back yard. There was a pin hole where the lightning struck.
I had a copper ground cable attached to the antenna mast @ the antenna and run to a ground rod 6 foot long.
Also all antenna and sat cables had grounding blocks where they entered the house.

We were home @ the time. No injuries but I did levitate about 3 feet above the couch when it crashed!!!
Could hear a loud buzz a few milliseconds before the thunder.  [shocked]

I have the feeling your damage may have been caused by a multiple strike event.
Hopefully your insurance covers all.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on July 22, 2014, 07:18:57 PM
This is the most detail I've ever seen on the effect of a lightning strike on an electrical system.  Thank you for posting these- and they should spark some good discussion!

I went around with the new Galaxy S5 smartphone having a learning experience.     ;D   Not mine but Karen's 

I plan on opening the VFX inverter case to see what's inside. There's some stuff that rattles a bit, although it is too heavy to really shake much.


When I take the other TV up there I'll see about the antenna amplifier....  not holding my breath though.   :(

Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on July 23, 2014, 09:46:50 AM
Guy on another forum sent me this...
(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tnttt.com%2Fdownload%2Ffile.php%3Fid%3D7876&hash=69692d085460199b24174814a97148f9586116d1)

Could be handy.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: flyingvan on July 23, 2014, 05:50:02 PM
...Lucas.....Heh Heh
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: Bob S. on July 23, 2014, 09:51:26 PM
Do you think all the work you guy's did cleaning up the pine needles  and  dead logs keep't it from all burning? I think it is great that you still have your retreat in the mountains. I know it is sad to have so much damage, but it could be much worse.
Bob
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on July 27, 2014, 01:31:28 PM
We'd like to think all the cleanup helped, but we can't say for certain. There was a lot of rain over that time and that likely helped a lot too.

Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: Dave Sparks on July 27, 2014, 03:52:26 PM
Hello Don,

I finally looked at this, but after I e-mailed you. Nice job with the pictures.  The Delta is probably one of the best for a direct hit but the midnight is better at clamping a near-by strike. My experience and John Wiles the guru in your state. He uses both delta and midnight and so do I.

I do not think both would have helped you though. Physical disconnection of 8 feet or more and a sacrificial system for floating the battery as well as lightning rods "may" have helped. Why was the conduit in your pictures above ground?

The dent in the roof from some tree part falling on it?

We were anchored once in Gatun lake near the Panama Canal. At the dock near shore were two sailboats with 50 foot masts.  Between the sailboats was a 60 foot motor yacht (no mast). Guess who had similar damage to you? Yep the motor yacht had been hit and the sailboats were fine. You just can not reason (at some point) with hurricanes and lightning.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: John Raabe on July 27, 2014, 05:49:49 PM
This is an awesome photo story about the power of electrical storms. Do you think that was all from one strike? There were sure a lot of pieces of equipment completing the circuit and it's just as well you weren't there to join the display. It makes us all wonder how our own setups would fare.

We're on grid power and have had surges that have blown out a microwave and an electronic hot water pot but nothing like this. Never had any lightening strikes nearby.

Your cabin site and the nearby tree would not appear to be particularly inviting for a lightening strike. 
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on July 27, 2014, 06:30:20 PM
Love John Wiles!!

I will be having both the MN and the Delta at the PV and at the upper end at the CC and batteries. Plus on the AC panel. Brand new ones are sitting in the garage as I type.

I am waiting for a quote on air terminals (the "correct" term for lightning rods   ;D  )  , connectors, braided copper wire, ground rods, miscellaneous stuff....

The roof dent is actually a reverse dent, an uplift an eruption. Strange goings on.

The conduit was/is above ground on the lower section of the hill because it was too steep for the trencher machine and lots of rocks.  Do you think it would be better buried even 6 inches?   


As a matter of interest a friend has donated an Onan genset he rescued from a totalled RV. Probably one of the noisy kind, but it is free.  :)


A physical disconnect might be something to consider. A small "floater" panel and CC as a sacrifice to the lightning gods is also worth some thought.


To the list of damaged equipment I found that we must add the TV preamplifier.

Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on July 27, 2014, 06:32:59 PM
... had surges that have blew out a microwave ....

Weird how things go... our microwave was the only thing with electronics that survived, not counting FL ballasts or the battery powered items here and there.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: Adam Roby on July 28, 2014, 02:58:22 AM
A few years back I was renting an apartment and there was an electrical storm that hit close enough to fry our microwave as well.  It was a small apartment with very few outlets so I had power bars more as splitters for most of my electronics.  They all blew... I heard the pops and smelled the burning.  I managed to crack one open and there was a condenser or capacitor across the poles that blew on every single one.  The microwave was plugged directly into the wall.

I am wondering if surge protectors would have helped.  Power bars, or even the type that protects the entire electrical panel.  (I see them a lot on Canadian renovation shows, not sure how many homes are protected by them). 
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: UK4X4 on July 28, 2014, 03:18:07 AM
Sorry to hear of your damage,,,but it could have been a whole lot worse, at least the cabins still there !

Lighting is so powerful it finds its own way to earth, whatever protection systems you have, its more than likely it would just bypass the breaks.

Leaving gear unplugged is a solution to your portable gear

I think I have a pic somewhere of a lightning protected oil field site that I worked on in Colombia, the site was literally surrounded by 6 meter high steel tree things with multiple spikes and large ground wires for each one

here you go, they were like these, seemingly lightning likes spikes.....so you have a bunch for it too choose !
(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lightningprotection.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2013%2F05%2FSBT.jpg%3F885663&hash=000e47492429d5e854ada4a4071ad216590346aa)
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: Dave Sparks on July 28, 2014, 05:51:18 AM
Yes WEIRD !  Some of the weirdness is explained in science and it is called latent damage. The device may still work normally but it has been compromised and either time, heat, cold, or another surge may destroy it for good.  We use to perform  latent damage testing for semiconductors and you can see the damage with xray and other testing.

As for physical disconnect of the array (8 feet +) there are rated plugs or connectors. The other way is just cut the cables at the JB and reconnect the set screws after. If I were leaving unattended for a long time, I would consider this. The surge protection is not as good and I always believe it is for the day you are at work and the strike hits.

On the boat we had regular sacrificing to Poseidon! I am going to add wild fire to the list with lightning and hurricanes. The DC 10 made 11 trips over my house yesterday to a fire up in Yosemite. It is nice to be on the upper side of the dirt.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on July 28, 2014, 07:26:38 AM

As for physical disconnect of the array (8 feet +) there are rated plugs or connectors.


Anderson power poles?
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on July 28, 2014, 07:47:37 AM
The more I think about it the more I like the idea of having the ability to easily disconnect the feed from the PV panels to the CC, etc. I stress easy, as my wife is not going to want to get in there with a tools to reconnect the wires at a box. I just asked and she said she would much rather not.  It's not often she is at the cabin without me, but it does happen. I would want it to be a simple matter for anyone to unplug if they hear thunder rumbling around us.


Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: Dave Sparks on July 28, 2014, 10:40:17 AM
The more I think about it the more I like the idea of having the ability to easily disconnect the feed from the PV panels to the CC, etc. I stress easy, as my wife is not going to want to get in there with a tools to reconnect the wires at a box. I just asked and she said she would much rather not.  It's not often she is at the cabin without me, but it does happen. I would want it to be a simple matter for anyone to unplug if they hear thunder rumbling around us.

I understand but most anyone offgrid ought to be able use a screw driver,  open the J-box, cut or disconnect the positive, negative, and ground separately and pull the conduit away from the house. The array should have disconnect to open the array. The problem with plugs/connectors is they often are a source of problems,  maintenance, and wear from not making a really tight connection over time. People will forget to open the breakers and then arc damage  the plugs. The J-box should be large and selected with the idea of easy disconnection.

Anyone who has phone, cable, or TV antenna/radio (solar) coming inside has the same issue. If you can disconnect it and move it away from something you are trying to protect, you will likely save it from most nearby strikes. prayer also helps

Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: OlJarhead on July 29, 2014, 08:20:42 AM
Sorry for the troubles Don!  Yikes!

In this business (Telecom) lightening is an issue that we hope to avoid.  I've seen remote sites that have all kinds of grounds, surge protectors, lightening rods etc etc just flat out smoked.  Halo grounds inside the shelter blackened and the entire site toast because of a direct hit.

Training for cell technicians is simple:  if you see lightening LEAVE.  As in, if you see it even miles away, LEAVE.  It can travel over a mile on the ground and a big tower is, well, a big lightening rod.

Hope all the damage doesn't cost too much to replace/repair!  I can't begin to contemplate that!
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: JRR on July 29, 2014, 11:13:30 AM
The spiny steel "tree" that UK4X4 shows is about the ultimate in "air terminal" I would think.  Sharp metal blades that can quiver in a small breeze, would offer a lot of "bleeding" into the air stream.  This would help to neutralize any potential that might build between ground and clouds.  In the unlikely event of a strike .. the bolt should be greatly reduced in energy compared to what if would have been without the tree.  After all, light rods (forgive me, "air terminals") are intended to prevent strikes, not guide them.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: Dave Sparks on July 29, 2014, 12:46:46 PM
The spiny steel "tree" that UK4X4 shows is about the ultimate in "air terminal" I would think.  Sharp metal blades that can quiver in a small breeze, would offer a lot of "bleeding" into the air stream.  This would help to neutralize any potential that might build between ground and clouds.  In the unlikely event of a strike .. the bolt should be greatly reduced in energy compared to what if would have been without the tree.  After all, light rods (forgive me, "air terminals") are intended to prevent strikes, not guide them.

This is the goal to have the strike pick somewhere else. It does not hurt to give the air terminal a nice robust path to ground. On our sailboat the air terminal went to the stainless 5/16 inch mast rigging down to the chain plates. We would bolt on 3/8' anchor chain over the side about 2 feet in the sea. It always seemed to get nasty at night.....Nothing like lightning on the ocean. I do not miss that part!
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on August 08, 2014, 01:43:10 PM
Air terminals, assorted bases/mounts, clamps, clips and braided wire...

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Fair-terminalsetc_zps3468abed.jpg&hash=dda8f24b02671be7508af9f4c74328bf4a696afe) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/air-terminalsetc_zps3468abed.jpg.html)

Next step will be the roof top for me.   I've already driven some ground rods in place. Once the air terminals are mounted I'll connect the wires and do some photos.

Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: rick91351 on August 08, 2014, 06:53:52 PM
Don - you and Karen will have to move up there full time just to protect your copper investment.  I have not taken time to express how sorry I am that this occurred.  Yet you are pretty lucky no fire was started!!!   Don't know why you're doing all this when common knowledge is lightning never strikes twice.    ;)
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: JRR on August 12, 2014, 04:00:23 PM
Did your metal roof have any metal conductor-path to ground?  A cable dedicated to that purpose ... or metal gutters and metal down spouts?  I have always thought a metal roof to be a fair "air terminal"; your experience puzzles me...unless the roof metal was somewhat isolated from ground.  ??
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on August 12, 2014, 04:39:12 PM
I thought the metal panels made a good air terminal as well. There were two paths to earth from the metal roofing at diagonally opposite corners. Solid copper 6 gauge wire with S/S bolt through the panel, paint removed but the galvalume coating left intact and 8 foot copper clad steel ground rod driven 9 feet down.  One of the copper to roof panel connections shows carbon tracking around the S/S bolt. It was slightly loose; took a 1/2 tp 3/4 turn of the wrench.

The aluminum gutter on the south side was not tethered/connected to the metal roof. That might explain why the one gutter coupler blew apart. It was sealed with a sealant which shows traces of being scorched.

I suspect the earth was not making a high grade electrical ground connection; too dry. I'm in the process of adding extra ground rods, 8 feet apart as well burying several 12 to 20 foot lengths of scrap #2 copper wire in trenches, one end connected to the down wires and ground rods. Some of those are being run in the more moist waste water drain field. Others along the north side where there are no gutters and the ground is always more moist.

If this had happened before I did the concrete walkways a year or so ago I would have tied ground wires into the remesh used.



So far I have added a Midnite Solar Surge Suppressor (http://www.midnitesolar.com/products.php?menuItem=products&productCat_ID=23&productCatName=Surge%20Protection%20Devices) to the AC service panel and replaced the blown apart Delta.

I have 2 more MN suppressors for the DC system; one to be placed at the PV array and the other at the upper end of the 300+ foot DC wire run. Close to the new MN Kid charge controller.  The upper end is also being changed to make it a simple matter to disconnect the DC power in lines (to the CC). The plan is to disconnect the DC from the CC input when there is the threat of lightning. Also in June through August, our main thunderstorm season, when we leave we will disconnect the lines.

Over the past few weeks with no loads on the batteries when we are absent, and no charging going on, I have found the batteries are healthy enough to have insignificant self discharge over a period of a week. Long term plans include adding a small PV panel and a cheapy CC to maintain a float charge. The MN CC will be isolated /disconnected and if lightning strikes again the cheapy CC will be sacrifical.




Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: JRR on August 13, 2014, 03:19:18 PM
I like the sound of the corrections you are making to the grounding system.  I think septic drain fields and tanks offer some good grounding opportunities ... as they are being constructed, of course.  Not so good for retrofits.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: Dave Sparks on August 14, 2014, 08:04:59 AM
I like the sound of the corrections you are making to the grounding system.  I think septic drain fields and tanks offer some good grounding opportunities ... as they are being constructed, of course.  Not so good for retrofits.

I use to know a very "skinny guy"  who could crawl into a ships black holding tank for repairs. He named his price and always got it.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on August 25, 2014, 04:59:07 PM
Just for the record, I am about done with the repairs and improvements. FWIW, in recap, here is what I have done.

Grounding improvements are in two separate sections; lightning rods or air terminals and grounding (earthing) the electrical system.

Air terminals. Four on the 16 x 30 cabin, 3 on the ridge and 1 on the S/S wood stove chimney. 26 strand 7/16" dia. wire used to connect all the air terminals. These extend down to the ground at diagonally opposite corners. Each wire first connects to an 8 ft. copper clad 5/8" dia. steel rod that is driven into a hole dug to make the bottom end of the 8 ft. rod 9 ft. below grade and set out from the cabin wall about 2 feet. The same wire is buried in a trench to run to a second rod about 10 feet distant on each side of the cabin. From that rod the wire extends another 10 feet or so to a 2 sq. ft. copper sheet buried about 2 - 2 1/2 feet down. All wires are covered with earth.  The terrain was reshaped slightly in places to permit the collection of rain water and snow melt to soak into the soil and make a better ground electrical connection.

The shed (8 x 8) has a TV antenna mast that reaches a height of 24 feet above roof level. This mast is down wire connected to a ground rod. A wire connects this ground rod to one of the ground rods at the cabin, a distance of something like 15 - 16 feet.

The barn (larger shed, 9 x 16) has two air terminal on the high side of the shed style roof. These are connected with the same 7/16" wire as used on the cabin. Here too the down wires drop at diagonally opposite corners. There are 2 ground rods at each corner, placed about 10 feet apart. One of these ground rods is connected to the ground rod at the TV mast. So all ground rods are inter-connected for best performance. Resistance between 1st and 3rd adjacent ground rods ranges from 2 to 6 ohms.  That may change over the span of the seasons. The ground is mosit right now. We'll have to resample later in the year and next spring and early summer. Several access points have been made to facilitate the re-measuring.


Electrical system grounding. This includes the ground rod system and the new surge suppressors or lightning arrestors.

I have Midnite Solar SPD's. One at the PV array combiner box. Another is 310 feet up the hill at a newly installed "power post" that is 10 feet from the cabin corner where the new Midnite Solar "The Kid" charge controller is located. A third MN SPD is located right at the CC input . A fourth is located at the DC wires that feed the inverter; this is a low voltage version as it is connected to the 24 VDC battery bank. Finally a fifth MN SPD is mounted at the AC service panel. At the PV array is also a Delta DC suppressor as well as a Delta AC version suppressor at the service panel. Nothing like redundancy. :)  And expense.  :(  A cool thing about the MN SPD is they have an LED that indicates that it is operational.


Grounding.  At the PV array I added four rods in a manner similar to the lightning air terminal system. That is rods connected to one another in a string with about 10 feet between rods. They extend to the pond area with the last rods directly parallel to the bermed low side of the pond. Probably the most moist area we have.  At the cabin all the hardware from CC to inverter, battery charger and service panel are individually connected to a ground buss. One end of the ground buss is connected by #2 copper wire to a ground rod at the new power post. From there a series of 5 ground rods extend into the grey waste water dispersal field. On the surface a series of bowls, centered around the rod positions, serve to catch, retain and permit soaking in of any precipiation.



Presently we are using a backup Samlex 1500 watt pure sine wave inverter for the cabin AC power needs. It does mean having to think when using the microwave or electric kettle. It will do until we decide if we really need the power capacity and convenience of something like the 3500 watt Outback that was toasted.


Lastly there does appear to be some hidden wiring damage in one of the lines to or between the gazebo, shed and/or barn. On occasion the GFCI that feeds that low use line trips. Sometimes it will not reset, sometimes it will reset several days later. The GFCI itself is good. It will be a tedious task to track down. Hopefully I'll track down the fault earlier rather than later. That's the Labor Day weekend project.




Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on August 26, 2014, 04:24:47 AM
I forgot to elaborate on a feature new to the PV system. Why did I install what I call the power post 10 feet from the cabin? It is to make it easy to physically disconnect the DC lines from the PV array to the charge controller. The suggestion came from Dave Sparks. Lightning can easily jump the small gap in a circuit breaker that is turned off. Now if the threat of lightning is imminent we can shut of the PV power feed with ease, disconnect the wires and pull them aside creating a large physical gap. During lightning season when we are absent we can leave the system disconnected. Just an additional preventative step. Most of the year, like fall through spring there is little lightning action likely so I feel safer leaving the system up and running then. Our absences in lightning season are short enough and no power is used from the batteries at all at those times that I feel there is little danger from battery self discharge.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: rick91351 on August 26, 2014, 05:07:06 AM
Don to me that is a great idea and one  some might consider on or off grid. 
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: upa on August 27, 2014, 07:33:15 AM


Presently we are using a backup Samlex 1500 watt pure sine wave inverter for the cabin AC power needs. It does mean having to think when using the microwave or electric kettle. It will do until we decide if we really need the power capacity and convenience of something like the 3500 watt Outback that was toasted.

Don, I am also sorry to hear about this unfortunate turn of events. Have you tried contacting Outback, as you likely already know most of the electronics in your toasted inverter are on three user replaceable boards, perhaps its not too expensive to fix. If the same happened to me I think I would have a hard time not replacing it with another outback or similar class inverter.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on August 27, 2014, 09:17:56 AM
Thanks. Checking into that is just a matter of working through the to do list priorities.

There are many features the Outbacks possess that are very nice and not found in lesser equipment. I particularly like the Outback sleep mode "tunability" as well as the generator powered charger soft start up. (they don't kick in at full load like most other chargers, for those who have never had one.)

Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on September 03, 2014, 07:17:59 PM
I've determined that the damaged Yamaha EF2800i inverter generator would likely run again with a new electronic control box installed. At $700 I'm not sure I want to do that. It has just under 1000 hours on it, probably still good for another go round. I may just sell it cheap if anyone is interested. Not as quiet as the other Yamaha inverters or the Honda inverters, but not nearly as noisy as a 'big box" generator.

We are back in the PV power business now. I placed a Midnight Solar The Kid charge controller into service recently and am happy with it.  I'm running a Samlex 1.5 KW pure sine wave inverter while I ponder the fate of the Outback VFX3524M. It will probably get rebuilt and the Samlex placed back on the shelf as the emergency inverter. I really do like that unit. 

I even have some pictures I have to do something with and post 'em.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: NM_Shooter on November 30, 2014, 02:17:58 PM
Wow.  I am so glad you did not lose that cabin.

Sorry to not have read this thread more carefully.  Did you get the terminals and braid here locally?  I should put some on my cabin, as I am on a knoll with no trees around, and do not have a grounded roof. 
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on November 30, 2014, 04:24:03 PM
Hi Frank!  I checked locally and found only a couple of places that would sell & install. No parts sales only.  So I ordered online from a place in MA. Forget the name off hand.  I realize I have pictures and have not updated this thread. So we'll upload some pictures in next post.  I only have pictures of the completed project and only a few of those. I got carried away with the install and never took any inprogress pictures.

Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on November 30, 2014, 04:36:14 PM
The east gable end showing an air terminal and part of the down wire run.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Feastgableend_zpsbb8131fe.jpg&hash=5b3ee590abaf8062dcaeb85b7e9dff0ff595e217) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/eastgableend_zpsbb8131fe.jpg.html)


18 inch air terminal, closer up

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2F18inchairterminal_zps39dd5728.jpg&hash=bd6a3e0c0d986a46548800db9b573fa68ccf51ef) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/18inchairterminal_zps39dd5728.jpg.html)


East end again. The air terminal is barely visible. The drop wire falls straight down into a hole with the ground rod driven down one foot below the surface. The down wire continues south in a trench to another ground rod approx. 15 feet from the cabin. Then it continues south for another 12 or so feet to a buried 2 ft sq copper ground plate. That is next to a wet area where the grey water terminates.

In the foreground is the new "power pole". The wires from the PV arrive underground and come up to a disconnect in the box. There is a Midnite Solar SPD (surge protection device, aka lightning arrestor) connected to the incoming wire there. On the other side of the post is a outlet for the DC line to the charge controller. It is a locking plug/socket. When in lightning season we can disconnect when we leave or if we are present we can disconnect when lightning threatens.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Fpowerpoleandcord_zps2c920eb3.jpg&hash=5a710eefb44a8c414d76b904f79e344518b0eb76) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/powerpoleandcord_zps2c920eb3.jpg.html)


Close up of the plug end and the warning labels.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Fpoledisconnect_zpsdbeb221e.jpg&hash=a0b4b356c60107931efaae92b3e0fb6c42508f36) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/poledisconnect_zpsdbeb221e.jpg.html)


New SPD on the service panel

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2FSPD-on-servicepanel_zps5d030ecc.jpg&hash=2e4e92e5df5f658046dd7b3e3cf7d764e6b60325) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/SPD-on-servicepanel_zps5d030ecc.jpg.html)



Ground down wire on the west end. As with the other end this connects to a ground rod driven one foot below surface. The wire then continues, unbroken, to another rod and a ground plate down the side of the cabin.

(https://countryplans.com/smf/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1373.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fag395%2Fdonmiller3%2FCabin%2520Lightning%2Fwestendgroundwire_zpse6fb0846.jpg&hash=ed3ccc985c881281fa77ac4fac0df36eae466f38) (http://s1373.photobucket.com/user/donmiller3/media/Cabin%20Lightning/westendgroundwire_zpse6fb0846.jpg.html)


Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on July 31, 2015, 08:16:50 AM
Unfortunately one of the three pines that were struck has succumbed. The top greenery seemed okay till a couple months ago. Everything green was turning brown. So we took it down a few days ago.  The other two are as green as the surrounding trees that never got hot.  This one now shows that the pine bark beetles has something to do with the demise... lots of blue stain up to about half the 75 foot height. It never showed any signs; no sap globules so it never had any fight in it after the strike. Sure can take a while fpr a conifer to exhibit signs of sure death at times.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: rick91351 on July 31, 2015, 10:27:20 AM
When I read this my mind went to the beetle infestation we have here.  If you are seeing a lot of bluing - bingo.  Couple things happened when it was struck - it is weakened....  weaker trees the beetles seek out first.  Second if growing close together there is much going on in the roots.  When water is scarce trees with better root systems survive over those who do not.  The lighting strike very well might have cooked the roots that seek and carry moisture.  After all they are the grounding rod.  That one is just a theory a forester told me one time.  Need to run it by PineCone....   
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on July 31, 2015, 12:48:19 PM
When I read this my mind went to the beetle infestation we have here.  If you are seeing a lot of bluing - bingo.

We haven't seen active signs of beetles for a couple years. Lucky I guess. We see whole mountain sides of brown trees in parts of CO.  I think thinning  our trees has helped that a lot.  Most of the infested trees we've seen in the past showed sappy blobs, that the trees produce in their defense against the beetles. But this one showed nothing. If trees have "nervous systems" as we do that probably got zapped good.  Lots of woodpecker holes became apparent this spring. Must have been some good eating!!   Oh well, only one tree out of many and it's going to make some fine firewood.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: Don_P on July 31, 2015, 05:54:59 PM
I can't remember if I showed you the pair of lightning strike trees at the top of the driveway just behind the house when y'all were here. We were on the road when it happened probably 10 or 15 years ago now. From the damage it looked like the main strike travelled down the chestnut oak and hopped over to the red maple partway down. From my days working with a high frequency gluing machine, oak is very conductive, I would have to turn the power down to keep from tripping the breakers. It is a common lightning struck tree here. Anyway, my "hygrometer" on the oak finally broke off this year. The bolt had peeled a ~4' long section loose from the trunk. In rainy or very damp weather that strip would hug the tree, in dry weather the tip of that split would be about 6" off the trunk, it was neat to watch it work back and forth depending on the weather. I've been amazed they survived but they are becoming dangerous, extensive rot in the damaged parts. We'll need to get a climber or a crane in at some point in the not too distant future.

That is interesting on the lack of resin blobs, the epithelial cells under normal circumstances are the last to die, they can still be cranking out resin in the logs months after a tree is disconnected from its' roots. The moisture is higher here but we'll get blue in warm weather with or without beetles in dead sapwood that is above fiber saturation point. Beetles tunneling through the spore covered bark certainly carry it in much faster. That sapstain fungi is a sugar eater, drinking it up from the cell lumens rather than feeding on the cell walls themselves but it is saying the conditions are right for the true decay fungi to move in.

I suspect the steam explosion(s) within the tree cause an embolism in the vascular water column between roots and leaf and the tree has no way of repriming that capillary pump (which is also why it is impossible for sap to "go down" in winter. a tree has no way to re-establish a broken water column)
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: rick91351 on August 01, 2015, 02:45:50 AM

That is interesting on the lack of resin blobs, the epithelial cells under normal circumstances are the last to die, they can still be cranking out resin in the logs months after a tree is disconnected from its' roots. The moisture is higher here but we'll get blue in warm weather with or without beetles in dead sapwood that is above fiber saturation point. Beetles tunneling through the spore covered bark certainly carry it in much faster. That sapstain fungi is a sugar eater, drinking it up from the cell lumens rather than feeding on the cell walls themselves but it is saying the conditions are right for the true decay fungi to move in.

I suspect the steam explosion(s) within the tree cause an embolism in the vascular water column between roots and leaf and the tree has no way of repriming that capillary pump (which is also why it is impossible for sap to "go down" in winter. a tree has no way to re-establish a broken water column)

Once again both Dons you have great insight.  Here in the pine forests what little logging we have left it is all locked up due to environmental reasons.  There is always great urgency to move pine logs to the mills and get water on them in the summer time.  This of course prevents the blue stain or the growth of the fungus that causes bluing.

We here in my location - our beetle kill you often do not see a lot of weeping associated with such.  MD does also offer something I have also noted the infamous woodpeckers working these trees in the spring and early summer.  If you on walk about hear them working a pine like that.  Usually what happens as soon as it starts turning hot, seems like almost over night that tree will turn almost red.  No slow lingering death where they slowly kill the top and work down or anything like that.  No globs of pitch just red death.....

I try and get them down ASAP and to the wood pile and split however when I do in most cases the log will be already blue......  In fact there is one above the house that is calling right now....

I do have a young friend up here that has a nice portable circle saw mill and has found market nitch for blued pine.  I have traded him some pretty good saw logs.       
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on August 01, 2015, 03:02:35 PM
I counted 102 rings today; 2 feet above ground @ 16" diameter.  That's a NM tree for you.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: Don_P on August 01, 2015, 04:45:23 PM
I think we compared ring counts one time, that would probably be a 40 to at most 80 year old white pine here. We do have some slowpokes though, a virginia pine is much tighter ringed and the table mountain pines are probably our slowest. That one is in serious decline since we have largely eliminated fire from the forest and it requires fire to seed. The longleaf pine down in the coastal plain needed fire to eliminate competition so it is also in serious decline. Not that I'm a fan of wildfire but it is a shame to see that tree in reduced numbers, it is really the primary source of the old heart pine timber and is the strongest of the yellow pines. The loblolly that make up the majority of southern pine nowadays isn't even listed in my oldest strength tables, it was considered kind of an inferior yellow pine, also known as oldfield pine because it would come back in old used up and abandoned plantation fields. Wandering further afield, one of my shirttail ancestors was called the father of modern soil science back around the time of the Civil War when he reclaimed an old plantation by applying marl, lime, to the fields. He called the plantation Marlbourne and it was a showplace of what could be done to improve and retain the soil in it's day. Unfortunately he held some political views I have serious difficulty with but it was a different time. I've planted some of the same land to loblolly that he walked I'm sure, the effects of the old bad farming practices are obvious to this day in spent soil and heavy erosion.

There is always great urgency to move pine logs to the mills and get water on them in the summer time.  This of course prevents the blue stain or the growth of the fungus that causes bluing.   

That is one good way of preventing sapstain in logs when it gets warm. The fungi requires temperature, oxygen, food, and moisture. Deny it any of these and it will not grow. A film of water on the logs will deny it oxygen, the same as ponding did in the old days. In the winter it does not grow, one reason I try not to mind building or logging and sawing in cold weather. Logging and sawing in the winter will usually yield bright wood. If you can work fast, or cold, and get the wood dry, below about 20-25% it cannot grow. Or you can poison the food, there are several sapstain preventative chemicals, diesel was one bad old way.

When I'm sawing, if the blade passes through the bark and then across the face of a board I've just spread the spores across that face, it is much more likely to blue. The beetle is doing the same thing. Once I've squared up and removed the bark the remaining boards off the cant are less likely to blue.

Some years ago I found some micrographs on SUNY's website of bluestain within the cells, pretty cool pics. The hyphae of the fungus will often push through the pits that link the cells but their tips also contain an enzyme that lets them bore right through the cell walls and into the adjoining cells. They often travel through the rays in the wood as well, travelling towards the heart from the bark and then branch out from there, giving a kind of starburst look to a fresh cut end. I managed to accidentally create a stack of denim pine upstairs in the barn. I stickered it up there without sufficient airflow and the pile molded, more twards where another stack was blocking the far side and especially as it got closer to the floor. I usually air dry it under cover first and then restack it up there to finish in the higher heat. I got lazy and tried to skip a step  d*.

Our beetle in the eastern white pines is the black turpentine beetle, BTB, it tends to hit hardest from eye level down but I've seen them anywhere in the tree. Usually there are telltale blobs of resin on the bark with them. They seem to smell their way around cause they show up quick when I'm sawing but I also think they can see a weak tree.  Do you notice the woodpeckers tap a bit then turn their head as if listening to the bugs in the wood, and then tap again?

Sorry Don, I think I just took us waaay off thread  ;D
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: rick91351 on August 01, 2015, 05:28:07 PM
Very interesting birds - woodpeckers.  You would think they would not hear a sound with all the noise they make but they do indeed listen and listen then go back after whatever.

We have bores that will of course invade the weak pines that you actually hear them crunch - crunch - crunch. One night camped or rolled my sleeping bag out near one of those places and it was an on going chorus all night.  Dang things must sleep all day.  Then I though why not.  Less predators at night.....  BTW you will see the sass or powdered wood one the ground below their borrows.....

Dad got a job at a saw mill.  They had a dip trough, he spent a couple months so he claimed putting boards on a chain that carried them through a anti fungal solution.  Hard telling what it was.....  It was all gone when I was around there. 

I counted 102 rings today; 2 feet above ground @ 16" diameter.  That's a NM tree for you.

WOW you are definitely not the the pine forests of Georgia and the Carolina's nor the Washington and Oregon plantations.....  You most likely would have three or four cutting in 102  rings......   ;)     
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on August 01, 2015, 06:38:25 PM

WOW you are definitely not the the pine forests of Georgia and the Carolina's nor the Washington and Oregon plantations..... 

It's one reason I do quite fine with a 16" bar.    ;D   

I have one more already thoroughly dead and dry ponderosa about this same size that I'm leaving standing for the birds or whatever. It's far enough away from any normal activity, far away from buildings, etc, but close enough to a bunch of other trees that it is pretty much guaranteed to hang up.

thread drift? .....  what's that?
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: OlJarhead on August 02, 2015, 05:43:50 AM
Pine beetles can be a problem here also and I was told to thin the trees to 15' minimum between trees as the beetles don't travel far from tree to tree. 

I need to look into some lightening protection on my system too.  I have one protector that never got installed (didn't have a shunt at the time but do now) and not enough grounding (lot of rocks here so it's a bear to get them in the ground).

I'll have to cross fingers for a little longer  d*
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: Dave Sparks on August 24, 2015, 06:12:59 AM
It's one reason I do quite fine with a 16" bar.    ;D   

I have one more already thoroughly dead and dry ponderosa about this same size that I'm leaving standing for the birds or whatever. It's far enough away from any normal activity, far away from buildings, etc, but close enough to a bunch of other trees that it is pretty much guaranteed to hang up.

thread drift? .....  what's that?

Hey Don, so let us thread drift back.  I have client from years ago that we built an attached to the house battery box like yours. Back then he was using AGM batteries and we cooled the batteries with a lower and upper 3" fan that brought conditioned air from the house in to cool the bank. It is often 100F there.  Now he wants to go back to flooded batteries and I am trying to think of a way to keep it safe. I know there are gas alarms but I am thinking more of pulling air in from the house and very slowly blowing to to the outdoors. EQ would always be done with the battery box open. The electronics (inverter/controllers) are in a separate box nearby that pulls in house air at the bottom and expels the warm air (top) outside.  I know your issue is with the cold of winter but I would like your thoughts.

The Ponderosa are being decimated in the southern Sierra from the drought and the Beetles. The valley below us is dropping 2 inches per month from groundwater pumping and we are building hi speed rail. Fish that no one can eat are safe though.  Only in California.......
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: MountainDon on August 24, 2015, 06:58:19 AM
We have never had any problems with keeping the batteries cool.  ;)  Even when are days hit 90 for brief periods the nights are cooler and longer. I built our battery box / compartment kind of loose. It has bottom vents inlet via the slight spacing between the planks that make up the floor. Plus the slightly loose fit of the doors helps vent. There is exit venting at the ends of the highest point of the roof. No fans. As you know my large concern was winter cold. We only use it a few weekends throughout the winter and the batteries don't see enough discharge and charge action most of the time to make insulating it worthwhile, in my estimation. So I figured sort of loose would help with venting. I made up for cold weather reduced temperature with extra battery capacity. So far, so good.

Yes, I equalize with the doors open. That works well. And our electronics are separated from the batteries.

 I ran a borrowed hydrogen sniffer for a summer and it never recorded more than 1%. (Explosive range is 4 to 75%) Good to have friends and family at LANL.  ;D  Lots of cool government funded equipment.

The idea of slowly blowing / moving cool air from inside to the battery box has merit I think. If the box was sealed better than mine that should push the circulation from bottom to an upper exit. In one end at bottom and out the other at the top.

Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: Dave Sparks on August 24, 2015, 08:54:12 AM


The idea of slowly blowing / moving cool air from inside to the battery box has merit I think. If the box was sealed better than mine that should push the circulation from bottom to an upper exit. In one end at bottom and out the other at the top.

The XW equipment I use, both the controllers and inverter / charger are convection cooled with filtered inlets at the bottom and fan assisted output at the top of the equipment. That makes it easy but I still want to make sure on the battery that I am exhausting enough but not too much. Maybe a sniffer built-in would be the ticket. I f I can keep the batteries at 80F instead of 100F it will really help them last 10 years. I suppose the safest way would be to just replace batteries at 5 years when the heat kills them. The heat always wins in the battery game.
Title: Re: Lightning Strike(s) and Damage
Post by: DaveOrr on October 16, 2015, 02:53:02 PM
Don
After reading this article about a strike near Ottawa yesterday I think you were pretty lucky!!

http://www.star96.ca/Star96-LocalNews/blogentry.aspx?BlogEntryID=10690956 (http://www.star96.ca/Star96-LocalNews/blogentry.aspx?BlogEntryID=10690956)

Quote
Petawawa Fire Fighters fought several blazes yesterday after a massive lightning strike behind two homes on Blue Jay Way in Petawawa.

According to Petawawa Deputy Fire Chief, Chico Traclet, at 2:30 in the afternoon yesterday the lightning strike hit a jack pine sending splintered wood in a 200 feet radius in the backyard of the two homes. The energy of the lighting strike ignited a natural gas meter at one home and hit a garage at the 2nd home. The strike also hit an underground tracer wire along a gas line and ruptured a 4 inch line in front of the two homes.

One home completely burned to the ground while the second home suffered damage to the roof of their home and their garage burned to the ground.

No one suffered any injuries and 16 Petawawa Fire Fighters responded to the blaze as well as Garrison Petawawa Fire Fighters. The Garrison also provided their ariel truck to combat the flames. Crews were on scene monitoring the situation until 6:30 this morning.
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