Batteries that are EMP proof for off grid

EMP Proof Batteries For Off-Grid Battery Bank

Batteries that can survive an EMP. Can a EMP fry or ruin a battery? Certain types, maybe yes. But the most common types of batteries are perfectly safe from the effects of EMP. Yes, EMP proof batteries do exist. Let me explain..

EMP (electro-magnetic-pulse). A burst of electromagnetic energy. What causes it? Well, a number of things could.. One common source is lightning. Lightning produces an EMP within its vicinity which could damage or ‘fry’ electronics. A few years ago, a nearby ‘bolt’ zapped and fried my wifi router simply by being close enough for its EMP field to cause damage. Since then, I’ve protected the router!

In the context of this article however, we’re talking about an EMP source that would be much more devastating. A nuclear EMP weapon. All nuclear weapons produce EMP. However one that is purpose-built-designed and detonated at altitude for maximum effect, has the potential to destroy much of the electronic infrastructure within its reach.

[ Read: Nuclear EMP Components E1, E2, E3, and what they mean… ]

Though seemingly an unlikely occurrence, it is a legitimate concern. There are many aspects of mitigation. However lets address just one question here. EMP effects on batteries..

Which Batteries Are EMP Proof

Good ‘old fashioned’ lead acid batteries (e.g. car batteries). AGM (absorbed glass mat) batteries (I use these for my solar powered battery bank energy storage). Also, consumer type alkaline batteries such as AA, AAA, C, D, 9-volt are EMP proof. NiMH rechargeable batteries too.

EMP proof batteries are any type of battery that do not have electronics within.

Are Lithium-Ion Batteries EMP Proof?

Short answer, no.

One concern is that of the Lithium generation batteries. They are a tremendous source of energy storage. Electric vehicles use them. They’re a common battery for all sorts of power tools and equipment. Laptop and cell phone batteries, and so much more..

They are becoming a common battery type for solar power energy storage (battery bank) due to their energy storage capacity within a smaller lighter weight package. And, you can draw them down to almost ’empty’, unlike lead acid type batteries which would suffer damage under this condition.

Here’s the thing.. A BMS (Battery Management System) is essential in a Lithium-Ion battery system. You might say it’s the battery / battery pack ‘brain’. The battery’s built-in electronics is tasked with monitoring and managing the battery not only for performance, but for safety. Without it, a lithium battery or battery pack could fail in spectacular fashion.. as in catch fire and/or explode. It is absolutely necessary.

The BMS is the weak link when it comes to EMP. Should the BMS fail, well, that battery system is down.

There is some debate regarding the potential extent of damage from a weaponized EMP. And this is valid because there are a number of variables that would contribute to the extent. And this includes that which may or may not affect batteries with BMS. In other words, how bad would the EMP have to be in order to damage the BMS.

Given my interest in the subject (because I have an Off-Grid battery bank which some day may need to be replaced), I contacted a well-known manufacturer of Off-Grid charger-inverters. They confirmed that lead-acid batteries (including AGM type) provide guaranteed assurance of continued operation following an EMP. Any battery system with a BMS would certainly not be a preferred choice in this case, given the potential likelihood of failure following an EMP. (Not to mention the rest of a solar power system which is another story, although there are mitigation techniques for this – but that’s beyond the scope of this article.)

Lead Acid Battery Chemistry Leaves No Doubt

In conclusion, the good old lead acid chemistry still appears to be the best choice for battery storage for an Off-Grid system as it pertains to mitigation for EMP.

Although Lithium chemistry is quite attractive (for many reasons).. that darn BMS is the issue. I suppose if it were possible to safely replace an integrated BMS, one could have spares in a Faraday cage (or equivalent protection). However these are not designed to be readily or easily accessible – or serviceable. One may also wonder, “if” the worst were to occur (EMP), and the BMS fried while in operation, what might be the immediate aftereffects.. Might that be catastrophic as well?

Anyway, barring some other intriguing battery technology that comes along and is safe from EMP, and somewhat price comparable to that of lead acid chemistry, I may just end up with AGM’s again next time around. Seems like that’s still a few years off yet for me though. We’ll see.

[ Read: EMP Shield – Whole House EMP Protection ]


  1. I thought it was basic knowledge that regular batteries were not effected.
    Dry cell
    Wet cell
    basic Lithium (non ic)
    IC is integrated circuitry.

    Anything with monitors, controllers, charging systems may well be junk, dangerous toxic and useless after emp.
    And that little issue of lithium burn/explosion that plagues electric bikes and EV’s.

    I’m a battery snob, I guess most just don’t care.

  2. Oil lamps are not affected by EMPs. If you truly believe an EMP or CME will put us into the 1850’s then you had better plan to live like it is 1850 and not rely solely on modern conveniences. I have batteries, radios, solar panels, generators etc just in case it isn’t as bad as predicted since no one knows the true extent of damage or the degradation of our systems will truly be.

    So that’s why I also have oil lamps, crosscut saws, axes, hand tools, candles, blankets etc. Preparedness levels should be several layers deep and should take into account as much of the unknown (what if) and unanticipated (disasters not normally associated with your area) as possible.

  3. Very good info in this article, and I would expect BMS damage in an EMP attack.
    FWIW, the DeWalt 20v li-ion batteries do NOT have the BMS in the battery case! The DeWalt engineers cleverly put the BMS IN THE CHARGER, and the Low Voltage cutoff in the tool. this is why there are multiple pins on a DeWalt battery. I took one apart and all that is inside are the cells and one tiny circuit board that runs the LED display for remaining charge.
    Ryobi, on the other hand, DOES have a BMS board and heat sink on board their 18v lithium batteries. They did this to be backwards-compatible with their tools that do not have LV cutoff. I use a Ryobi to run a “motion furniture” recliner in the middle of the room, and it only needs recharging once a year! The onboard BMS protects the battery from discharging it too deeply.
    Moral of the story- your DeWalt 20 v batteries MIGHT survive an EMS, Ryobi likely would not, but likely everybody’s chargers would get fried. Best to put them in the Farady cage!
    PS I have and use both types.

Comments are closed.