HF/UHF/VHF lightning arrestor
COMMUNICATIONS

Lightning Protection For HF/UHF/VHF Antennas

Do you have a HF / UHF / VHF Radio (base station) in the house? If you do, then you probably have an antenna mounted outside. That antenna should have lightning protection.

The best place for a UHF/VHF antenna (pretty much any antenna) is up as high as possible. And that’s probably what you’ve done.

There’s a problem with that. They are lightning magnets mounted way up high. A nice target. Looks like a lightning rod… Especially antennas that are typically vertical, or vertically oriented – way up high.

Lightning seeks the best path to ground. The path of least resistance to ground. If lightning strikes your antenna, the path might go down the feed line and to your radio. The radio will be destroyed. It could even start a fire. Or cause injury.

Lightning Protection For Antennas

Lightning protection is important. Even if you live in a region less susceptible to thunderstorms and lightning strikes, that antenna is still a juicy target. So do something about it…

You need to install lightning protection to your antenna system. This will (hopefully) channel that energy to “ground”. It will (hopefully) protect your radio and your home. Better stated, it will help minimize the damage.

Lightning Arrestors

You want a lightning arrestor for protection. There are many brands and types that can get the job done. Obviously your choice of lightning arrestor needs to have the right type of coaxial cable connections for your feed line.

First, to be clear, a direct strike has way too much energy to be completely stopped by an ordinary feed line lightning arrestor. However it will most certainly help with lesser lightning. It will help protect your radio from damaging static electricity and lightning induced surge.

With that said, the best thing to do… You should always completely disconnect your radio’s antenna cable before an impending thunderstorm. Ideally you would take that cable and hang it outside a window (just close the window onto the cable to keep rain from getting in during the storm!).

Best Inline Lightning Arrestor For Base Antenna Protection

Like I said earlier, there are plenty to choose from.

Based purely on apparent popularity and good reviews, you might look at this one:

>> PL259 Socket (UHF Female) to SO239 Socket (UHF Female)
(view on amzn)

Wide-Band Performance from DC-1GHz, insertion loss 0.1dB, and replaceable Gas Tube Element.

Lightning protection for HF/VHF/UHF. For HAM Radio Gear, 2-Way Base Stations, CB Radio, Marine Radio, Business band commercial radio, GMRS base stations, and more…

Antenna lightning protection can get pretty involved, and for good reason! There are more ways to help mitigate this problem, especially if you have a tower, multiple antennas, etc.

But this simple easy-to-install lightning arrestor (or any similar device) is an inexpensive yet effective way to help protect your radios.

Lightning Strikes In The U.S.

Most of you know that Florida has the most lightning in the United States. However again, it can happen anywhere! And you know it!

lightning-density-map-united-states

[ Read: Lightning Strike Risk & Safety | Facts | Tips | Dangers ]

Similar Posts

12 Comments

  1. do you really think that that device will slow down a million volts. the best defense is to unplug when not in use

    1. @nyscout,
      I am copying two paragraphs from the article above…

      First, to be clear, a direct strike has way too much energy to be completely stopped by an ordinary feed line lightning arrestor. However it will most certainly help with lesser lightning. It will help protect your radio from damaging static electricity and lightning induced surge.”

      “With that said, the best thing to do… You should always completely disconnect your radio’s antenna cable before an impending thunderstorm. Ideally you would take that cable and hang it outside a window (just close the window onto the cable to keep rain from getting in during the storm!).”

      1. Ken,
        Better yet, disconnect the antenna line outside the house and connect it to a ground outside. Ideally you want no lines coming into the residence, even if disconnected.

        1. Exactly. All my feeds come through barrel connectors that I have installed through the wall. So it’s easy to unscrew from the outside before a thunderstorm.

  2. Lightning protection is a must for all antennas and radio gear. Even with it, lightning strikes can/do take out equipment. If you belong to the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) you can buy low cost insurance that will replace your gear in the event of loss from various means, including lightning

  3. As a kid my teenage brother , who was a Ham Operator had us kids run outside in storms and disconnect the antenna leads. the good old days…LOL

  4. Honest question guys: Do these things really work?? Any experience or knowledge of someone with experience? For me, I’m cheap, I disconnect everything, every time. I keep my radios in faraday (popcorn tins) unless I’m using them. Heck, using the pig-tail connectors for power and the screw on coax, I can be on-the-air in less than a minute.

    It would be handier to just leave it all hooked up, but I really can’t afford another big radio. I do have the antenna and tower grounded to a copper ground rod at the base. Lightening is powerful stuff. I guess I could leave the IC260A (a 10 watt 2m all-mode) hooked up. Listening would be the same. If these things really work, I may try it.

    1. Plainsmedic,
      They do work. I would not count on them to control a direct lightning strike, but they can dissapate a lot of induced voltage due to nearby strikes and wind generated static in your antennna system. One thing i have used in my work, but don’t have for the farm is a lightning detector. I know i have seen schematics online. They can give you an “early warning” of an approaching lightning storm. Many times out here in the desert, a storm will roll in with no visible or audible notice of lightning, even though the storm is charged and may be discharging into the clouds. You are smart to dissconnect everything though. I would leave nothing attached to an outside antenna during a storm.

    2. Lightning protection does work, but it’s not infallible. In the telephone industry we use lightning protection on cables that use either carbon block or gas tube technology. The hope is that when they take a hit, they’ll short to ground. That way you know you took a hit, and the short will tell you the protection needs to be replaced. Sometimes it doesn’t short but DOES burn up. It did its job, but you have no way of knowing the wires are no longer protected. Next hit comes along, and down the line it goes. ‘Same thing happens with feedline arrestors…

  5. Lightning protection does work, to some extent, but at best, it’s a Hail Mary pass. So too, is disconnecting the antenna. Think of it; that lightning bolt traveled across tens of thousands of feet of AIR before hitting your antenna. Chances are, it’s going to LAUGH at your lightning protection, and continue on to your gear. Even if you disconnect, the charge is going to come down that feedline and arc to the easiest path to ground. Heck; it might even set your house on fire in the process! If you want to save your radio equipment, the best you can do is to disconnect the radio gear from the feedline, and directly ground the feedline. I use an Alpha Delta antenna switch that’s grounded. Centering the switch up grounds all antennas to earth ground. The switch also has a lightning arrestor. Also remember this; the EMP generated by the “near miss” running down your feedline to ground can also easily destroy modern ham gear! Face it; sooner or later, you’re going to lose some radio gear. The best defense is to have spares, and store them “off prem” from your radio shack.

  6. Hi all:
    My worthless 2 cents on Lightning.
    Average Negative Strike (normal old Lightning) is approximately 24 million volts, with a pure electron shaft of about 1″ diameter.
    As Ken said… nada is going to protect from a direct hit… period.

    The side static is what you’re trying to protect “stuff” from….
    Disconecting tha Antenna is a good way to help, but is a waste of time if you dont unplug it.

    Ok, ok. You want to know the “only” way to protect your equipment?
    Other than not having any or never having it hooked up……

    Homeowners Insurance that covers Lightening….. Go ahead, ask me how I know.

  7. Polyphaser makes units tested for HEMP. Minimum frequency is 10 Mhz and rated for more
    output power. They cost a lot more than the above devices.

Leave a Reply

>>COMMENT POLICY
>>OPEN FORUM for Off-Topic conversation

choose an alias name to comment

thanks for your comment...