What Items Do You Or Would You Store In Your Own Faraday Cage?

We are vulnerable to the risk of ‘natural’ or ‘man-made’ EMP (electromagnetic pulse), which has the potential to destroy electronic components and electronic infrastructure – and maybe even bring down the electric power grid.

An EMP, or electromagnetic pulse, is thought to be a highly unlikely event. And it might be. On the other hand, no one can predict with any certainty one way or the other…if and when we get ‘zapped’ into a pre-high-tech age in which many or most of our infrastructure systems stop working (any system which depends upon electronics to keep on functioning).

While the follow-on effects of a devastating EMP event would be horrific, for those who are preparing for such an event – what are the electronic items that you would consider ‘saving’ in a do-it-yourself Faraday cage for life after the EMP?

Here are a few thoughts:

As a precaution, some of you may stash some particular items in a do-it-yourself Faraday cage for protection from an EMP.

So, I have two questions for you:

1. What specific items do you (or would you) store in a Faraday cage?
2. What is the reason for keeping said item(s)?

Okay, lets hear from you. When we’ve got a good list going, I’ll update this article to reflect what seems to be the priority items that you’ve selected…

I’ve asked this question before, years ago here on the blog. Here are some of those results from back then:

  • Solar Battery Charger for rechargeable batteries (AA / AAA, etc.)
  • Portable Shortwave Radio receiver (AM/FM, Shortwave, HF, SSB)
  • 2-way Handheld Transceivers (e.g. FRS/GMRS, ‘walkie-talkies’, etc..)
  • Laptop / Tablet / Kindle / etc.. with stored resource information and data
  • Charge controller / Inverter spare for solar power system (If you have such a system)
  • Ham radio (transceiver)

Note: It could get pretty expensive storing some of these things. Just sitting there, not being used for an event that may not (hopefully not) ever happen. Just a thought…

Another thought is that if such a horrific event were to occur, there would come a time afterwards whereby some of your Faraday cage item choices may not matter anymore. Though there are certainly some choices which would continue to be of great value. Such as handheld 2-way radios for example (security!). Anyway – something to think about.

One of my high priorities would also be maintaining ways to produce power/energy by way of solar. To be able to charge up other battery operated devices or tools, for example. Flashlights/Headlamps for one. Portable radios for another… I have an off-grid solar system, so relevant backups to keep it running would also be good!

Okay, your thoughts?

[ Read: Garbage Can Faraday Cage ]

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33 Comments

  1. In addition to the above mentioned items a spare control module for Generac generator. They cost about $500 are simple to replace (4 screws and a connector) but your generator becomes a lawn ornament without it.

  2. I’ve been wondering if a metal tool chest wouldn’t offer some protection of my digital measuring devices, I have in them. I do have their analog counter parts, but they are better for very close tolerances. I would also suggest medical equipment that many use every day. Blood pressure monitors, blood sugar testers, O2/pulse checkers and such. Maybe an oxygen generator, may not be useful if the grid is down though. If one could afford it, a satellite phone may be useful, as not everywhere may be affected by the EMP.

  3. I currently have the following in a 6 gallon galvanized bucket (the small type sold for gardening, etc.):

    LED flashlight (1-AA cell) and eight batteries.
    iPhone 6 and charger (became a ‘spare’ after I treated myself to a newer iphone)
    Portable hard drive with all my electronic files saved on it (and updated ~weekly).
    LED lantern (Rayovac Sportsman, 3-D cells) and four batteries.
    C Crane ‘Pocket’ AM/FM/WX radio (uses AA batteries)
    Spare wi-fi router and cable modem

    I don’t have any relatives within 100+ miles, so I don’t see a need for a transceiver radio. Shortwave reception is near to none where I live (northern Seattle ‘burbs) and so don’t see the benefit of a shortwave receiver.

    1. I have all you do except the phone and the router.
      Emp would kill any possible use for that thing, you can’t even load files on it without online functions so it has zero use that I can think of.
      Is it possible to load media on it without the internet, at all?
      I keep a spare phone with several micro sd cards preloaded with movies, music and lots of audiobooks in a special small metal box.
      I have no illusion it would ever function as a phone again but it has great audio, works great with those audiobooks.

    2. I have six garbage cans full. The latest item is a Ryobi electric chain saw. Before that was a Dosimeter.

  4. Same as listed, except no ham radio. In addition, high end headlamp, older laptop computer with application software, couple of geek sticks loaded with docs and various other stuff.

  5. I have most of what Ken has mentioned, plus a few.
    Spare Parts to get an older Jeep “Back Running”
    Thumb Drives with all “Important” Docs and Photos on them.
    An old POS Laptop with Charger
    Spare Solar Parts.
    Several types of Comms. Communication will be vital after TSHTF.
    As Romeo Charlie mentioned Spare parts for a smaller Gen-Set knowing that Fuel will only last so long.

    Let’s face the fact, If an EMP, than we’re all up the ship creek without a paddle for sure.
    Think Iran or Rocket Boy would not LOVE to get their hands on a Nuke and EMP our azzes?

  6. I bought Faraday Defense Nest-Z. It was 15 bags, 4 different sizes. On Amazon for $69.99. 7 mils thick. They look pretty good but who knows until they are put to the test. In them I put laptop, smart phones, 2-way radios, flashlights, night vision, police scanner, short wave radio, motion detectors, blood pressure monitor, pulse oximeter, solar and regular battery chargers, inverter, charge controller, stun guns. In my research, I discovered that LED flashlights may be rendered useless by an EMP because the bulb is an electronic circuit. Best to protect as many as you can.

  7. An icom HF radio, a Yaesu vhf/uhf radio, a couple of hand helds a cobra cb radio, and a bunch of wire.

    My generator is old enough to not need protection

    Here’s hoping we never need to worry about it

    1. I have wondered, If an emp/cme were close enough is there a possibility of the ignition coil on any small power equipment being ruined.
      I’d be real upset if the chainsaw were affected, ignition coil is tougher stuff but they do occasionally give up the ghost.
      It’s a copper coil, it can fail.

      I get the solid state, IC circuitry problems with emp.

  8. I have the well known “metal trash can(s).” In addition to that, popcorn tins. I keep my “big” ham radio in one and an old 2m all-mode in another. Obviously, when the radio(s) are in use, it’s a risk. I only use one at a time anyway, so not a challenge. Easy open and easy close. I did remove all the paint from the lid and where it contacts the tin. With the pig-tail connectors, I can be on-the-air in less than a minute. Not difficult to set-up. I run on battery power always (solar trickle charge).

    Comms is VERY important to me in my situation. All my VIPs use a similar set-up. We have given comms our best effort. Hopefully, it’s good enough. Hard to imagine a more barterable skill. Literally everyone will be wanting information. Easier than ya think.

    All the other stuff mentioned by others. Romeo Charlie mentioned the replacement electronics for the generator. Yes, I have those in faraday. Thanks Tmac, wherever you are. The other BIG one is the 12vdc deep well pump.
    I really don’t want an emp. That would really suck.

  9. Small Icom HF transceiver. I know this is expensive, but I happened to come into a “YUGE” deal at a yard sale and thus have a spare.
    A few Baofeng VHF/UHF transceivers.
    LED flashlights. NOTE HERE! LED flashlights are ELECTRONICS now! An EMP will easily woof an LED!
    Pulse oximeter.
    BP cuff.
    Geiger counter (radiation monitor if searched on Amazon or the like).
    Thumb drives with vital records.
    AM/FM radio.

    For any of these items that are battery powered, DON’T store them with the batteries installed. They will leak and ruin your gear! I would go as far as to not have them in the can with the gear at all.

  10. I store my small Honda eu2200i generator in a galvanized trash can laid down sideways. Between the can and the floor I have a shim strip of wood on either side to lift it a little and keep it from rolling. Inside on the “bottom” is a flat piece of 1/2″ board with beveled edges for the generator to sit on, it juust fits in there with about an inch or so between the plastic gen casing and the can sides, and about 4″ at the front and back. Bungie cords from the side handles through the lid handle help keep the lid on.
    No guesses on if it will survive an EMP, but it’s been kept in there (drained between uses) since it was new and is pleasantly dust free. And the can keeps the generator out of sight. Stored with the manual, oil, extra spark plug, air filter kit, those mini jumper cables, and an extra plastic oil filler cap in case I ever cross thread the stock one, which seems pretty easy for me to do.

  11. I have all the typical stuff in cans. The HF and VHF/UHF rigs though I have in cookie and popcorn tins, then placed into the galv trash can. I’m seeing some study’s that are saying the tin or the garbage can are worth about -50dB of isolation to EMP. Since Mil-spec connector requirements are in the -80dB isolation range, I’m thinking double canning the important items might be prudent. One important thing when packing electronics into tins and cans, make sure you wrap or otherwise package them in insulating material. You don’t want any metal parts touching the metal container. The very best place in a faraday cage is exactly in the center of mass. But antistatic bubble wrap, or paper garbage bags are sufficient to preclude contact with the conducting surfaces.

    In addition to many of the things mentioned, (PCM’s for your computer controlled vehicles are a good idea) I also keep some basic electronic tools in there like a digital volt meter (DVM), Geiger counter/radiation detectors, and of course what engineer could not live unless they had their trusty calculator. My slide rules can of course live out in the open, because they don’t have batteries. ;-P

    1. Good comment! Yes, I concur with your dB estimations. That is my general understanding as well – depending on circumstances. And, it’s a good excuse to eat some cookies and popcorn – for the tins of course…

  12. I still do not understand how an EMP would work. Does it go underground? How far underground? You can buy a whole house emp shield for several hundred dollars that hooks up to your circuit breaker. Does that mean the EMP travels through your wires to get in the house? Is disconnected stuff in houses safe? Thinner wires, smaller circuits are easier to overload and may be at risk. On and on. There are a lot of articles but none I have read seem definitive. Are there any links to recommended articles?

    1. sam, You said, “There are a lot of articles but none I have read seem definitive.” It sounds like you’ve done some of your own research. That’s good! Given that you’ve reached out into the internet for answers, and although I do have some articles on EMP here on the blog, there’s likely nothing that I can say that’s going to help you further. It’s theoretical stuff. No real world EMP detonation (yet)… except for maybe Starfish Prime (EMP by accident) back during the early days of blowing up nuclear bombs… I would suggest researching what Dr. Peter Vincent Pry has to say. He certainly is an expert.

      1. There is extensive testing on/with EMP. Nuclear detonation isn’t the only way to make EMP. The police have them that can zap your car if you attempt to outrun them on the highway. Search around for EMP test facilities. They’ll likely have lots of articles and good info. https://keystonecompliance.com/emp/

        I have in the past seen lots of info on EMP and vehicles. Look up EMP Proof Zombie Mobile projects. The oilburners.net and WVO guys talk about them all the time. I’m working on an old school diesel pickup, mechanical injection, manual governor shutoff, pneumatic starter, the only reason to have a battery and alternator would be for lights and radio.

        Also check MIL-STD-461G, you can download a copy here, describes different conduction and radiation tests. About as definitive as you are going to find. Make sure to grab RevG current as of 2015.
        http://everyspec.com/MIL-STD/MIL-STD-0300-0499/MIL-STD-461G_53571/

  13. Two Echo 16 in. battery powered chain saws.With the bar off they fit in the large can along with spare batteries and charger.
    All communication equipment in the safe.

    1. About the safe.
      My phone can receive calls while locked in the gun safe so I doubt it’s useful at all against emp.
      I only keep 2 small radio’s in it as far as electronics.

  14. I found the same thing “Horse” in my experiments. Phone still receives calls in metal garbage can sealed with aluminum tape. I tried putting phone in small metal box with tight fitting lid and wrapping box with aluminum foil. Then put in garbage can and taped lid. Phone then didn’t receive calls. Using a phone is the only way I can think of to test emp that’s within budget. Have tried microwave and phone receives calls there too. Was thinking of trying those shielded mylar bags to see if they will provide a shield when put in garbage can. Trying to find an effective and cheap way to protect the critical stuff.

  15. Might seem a little loopy.
    I plan on getting a small metal trashcan and using metal window screen material to fashion a sock?? bag.. whatever you’d like to call it.
    Basically a metal bag to slide over the container, that should negate the lid/seam gap issue because it will cover well beyond the lid gap by over a foot and just wrap a piece of string around the bottom to secure it tight.
    If it’s a bare metal can/box the screen material will just be part of the mass covering any upper gaps.

    An idea that can’t hurt aside of a few bucks, it might help.
    Anyone have a clue about this idea?

    1. I’ve had to design a few EMI cabinets over the years and the metal gasket material is really a thing. The mesh screen could provide somewhat of an improvement over just the metal to metal lid contact. For those technically oriented check here:

      https://www.sealingdevices.com/documents/EMI%20Shielding%20Theory%20Gasket%20Design%20Guide%20of%20Chomerics.pdf

      On the use of microwave ovens they really are only designed to prevent escape of microwave energy at 2.45 Ghz which is where they operate. That’s not the resonant frequency or water like some think, but the frequency that moderately allows the heating of the water molecules. EMP however can occur at a wide range of frequencies. Even your cell phone may operate outside that band so its not surprising you still get good reception inside the microwave oven.

      For me in my preps the benefit to hardening a garbage can against EMP isn’t worth the effort. If the can gives you -50 dB isolation and adding the gasket material picks up -3 to -5 more dB, then just adding another -50dB tin inside the can is easier and doubles the isolation to nearly -100dB.

  16. Anything electronic I have in large metal garbage cans which are placed in the center of my steel convex shipping container. Have a dozen spare led light bulbs, and a lot of the same items Ken mentioned are also in the shipping container. This assumes I am bugging in but the metal garbage cans could be moved to my bugout trailer if needed if I have to leave.

  17. Include a battery tester for those A and AA type batteries. At some point you’ll be scrounging around stealing batteries from devises to put to better use and one bad battery (out of four, say) and something won’t work for you.

    1. morrisB,
      Good point. A decent multi-meter will do that job and others. Seems like the trash cans get pretty full. It’s kind of fun to play around with a few AA or AAA and a multi-meter. Gives a guy some options for powering different devices. Wouldn’t necessarily be pretty, but ya could make it work. It’s only math, after all. Well, a little wire and some solder and the old reliable duct tape, would help. Pay attention though. You can build substantial power with a lot of little batteries. The 18650 batteries are a dramatic step up. Have fun, be safe.

      1. Plainsmedic,
        Look into getting a couple of “Buck-Boost Modules” and throwing them into that Faraday cage. You can use them to bunch batteries of any voltage, and it will raise or lower the voltage to match what you need. Like taking a bunch of 20v drill batteries and making 13.8volts for your radios.

        1. Minerjim,
          So, I assume you’ve tried them out? Did ya build a little “case” for them? When I looked into them a while back, they were basically a circuit board. Looked a little fragile to me. If you find time, maybe give a review? I agree, they would come in handy. Thanks

  18. One thing can increase the effectiveness of a Faraday cage is to locate it underground. Now I know that brings up a whole new can of worms but hear me out. If you have a basement or root cellar you are almost there. In my basement I have zero cell signal. This attenuation just adds to the Faraday cage protection. You might have to add desiccant to the cage if you basement is damp but it is not a big expense.

    This is really just adding layers of protection. The more layers the better. You could have a popcorn tin cage inside a larger cage in a basement. Each attenuation layer adds to the next.

    1. Deep South,
      Moving your faraday cage underground will help for sure. One thing you have to consider is any piping or electrical wiring that runs into said area could very well work as a conduit for EMP pulses, as it is connected to the systems above ground and will act as sort of an antenna. A completely isolated underground location would be ideal imho.

      1. Says the hermit from the mines. haha
        Good ideas. Same with metal buildings with trash/tins/foil/cardboard. Who knows. I hope I’ve done enough??

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