Will EMP Pulse Fry Anything Electronic NOT Plugged Into The Grid?


I recently received the following question regarding EMP effects: “What will happen to vehicles with electronic ignitions, a Chevy with an ignition module, but they are not hooked to a battery, with no path for electricity to follow, can it do damage? There may not be power on the grid, but what about a generator? Can a drill that was not plugged in still be able to run?”

The short answer is, maybe.

Note: This best selling novel exemplifies what might happen to society after an EMP:

With regard to whether or not the electronic device is connected to the grid or sitting there not plugged in, makes some difference but is not necessarily a determining factor to the survivability of the device.

When the EMP (electro magnetic pulse) strikes, be it from a massive solar flare event, a nuclear explosion at altitude, an EMP bomb, or a focused EMP weapon, it does the same thing… emit a pulse of fairly broadband energy which radiates outward from the source.

This energy will radiate outward while losing strength as it travels further. Look up the ‘inverse-square law‘ for specifics. Knowing this, we can conclude that your electronic devices will be less likely damaged if you are much further away from the EMP source. The specifics of ‘how far away’ gets way too complicated for this article because there are many factors including the strength of EMP, how it was delivered, etc…

Some of the energy will be instantly induced into the power grid since most of our power lines are above the ground like a giant antenna and will soak up and distribute the pulse. Anything plugged in and in range will likely be zapped. Having said that, even if the electronic device is NOT plugged in, it will also be vulnerable to the effects of the EMP as the invisible pulse radiates outwards through the air, enveloping everything in its path (except for those items which are protected in a Faraday type cage or similar). Again, the degree of damage will depend on your proximity, and other factors.

Ted Koppel gets in-depth regarding America’s EMP threat:
Lights Out

By the way, a simple description of a Faraday cage is basically a box or container made of conductive metal or metal grids whereby the EMP current is induced in them rather than the circuits of the electronic devices being protected inside.

The reason why the device does not have to be plugged in to become damaged is because of what actually happens… The energy from the EMP pulse wave will melt down the transistor ‘junctions’ within semiconductor electronics. You could have a portable shortwave radio sitting on your desk, not plugged into anything at all, and as the invisible wave strikes it, it will fry (assuming sufficient strength and the other caveats…).

In conclusion, just know that ALL electronics are vulnerable unless specifically hardened against EMP (the military presumable does this, etc.) or protected via a purposed or natural Faraday cage. Also know that electronics are embedded in nearly everything that we use today. A major EMP would be the end of civilization as we know it. Will your Chevy stop running? Maybe. You would have to know the answers to questions like… How big is the EMP? Where are you located? What year is your Chevy? Will your drill stop working? Maybe. Does it have any electronic control in it other than its basic switch and coil winding? Will it matter if the power grid is down anyway? (power grid transformers will fry) Will your generator work? Maybe. All previous caveats and questions apply… Most all generators have electronic controlling circuits in them.

There are no clear answers to the questions at the beginning of this article. However in general, it may be safe to assume that nothing will work, and to plan ahead accordingly.

Related: 5 Nanoseconds To Lights Out

Related: Nuclear EMP Components E1, E2, E3, and what they mean…

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I work on commercial air conditioners which on occasions, have rather violent electrical explosions from thyristors carrying 480vac. There are control boards in close proximity, less than 1 foot, that are heavily populated with semiconductors which survive just fine. While a sheet of aluminum separate the two, it’s far from a faraday cage. With my degree in electronic engineering technology, I find it hard to believe components off line or in vehicles would automatically ‘fry’. There must be a difference of potential and a completed circuit in order for that to happen.

that is um not good

Even if someone uses a faraday cage to protect items from emp.
If the grid is fried what good is protecting things when you have
no electricity.
just wondering

“If the grid is fried what good is protecting things when you have
no electricity.”

Well that’s the thing, even with the grid fried you might still have electricity from batteries or generators that were off-grid and protected by faraday cages at the time of the EMP.

if you left a portable generator in your farady cage, then you can generate electricity.

i have an emergency radio with a solar panel and crank generator and a geiger counter, i keep the batteries unhooked in case of an emp… i guess i need more protection

I’ve bought Solar Generators and put then in Faraday boxes, along with a small Refrigerator, also Faradayed. Ebay has a solar generator 2500/5000 set with two one hundred watt panels for 975.00, it comes with battery and everything you need. It’s enough to run a sm. refrig., a fan and one or two sm. light also a sm. TV. at once. If you have the finances I suggest getting two. Also stock up on water purification tabs, you’ll need them, also on ebay.

Thanks Betty

Items not “Fried” can be run from alternate energy sources after the EMP has passed. If your ham or shortwave was protected from the impulse and you have a working generator, solar panels or water wheel generator, then you can run other electronic devices off of them after the “wave” has passed.

Battery powered electronics would of course be the answer to your question …

Generators. It could be used at specific times to run a CB or a Ham Radio to communicate and get news and updates. Should something like that happen they(someone) will find a way to put out broadcasts.Led lights and solar rechargeable items will be valuable if protected.

i have an old critter trap, i wonder if that would make a good faraday cage, or even like a bird cage?

You can find out by putting your cell phone in the trap. Call it . If it rings, it is not protected. If it does not ring, the Faraday Cage is doing its job.

Marlene ,,,,,,NOT A SURE WAY TO TEST,,, I have worked in a related field ,,,did not do testing myself , BUT was standing next to the guy that was doing so ,,way to many variables to just say this will work or this won’t ,, I have seen a lot of bad information posted on the web ,,,and no a single layer of a garbage can is not fool proof , you are not dealing with just the normal radio waves ,,,like wrapping in aluminum foil ,, or a special screen safe bag, just hokum ,,,there is just to much to doing protection right to explain here ,,not trying to ruin you day ,,people I have hung out with have PHDs and have been studying this since starfish prime ,,,

So outside of using a handheld radio and cell phone what is the best method to test that the average person can do?
I know there are a ton of variables such as strength, distance, type, frequencies of the EMP.
In the Cold War we were trained to bury our truck batteries. The CO used a handheld set to test.
So what is used to test correctly?

I agree with you and understand.

I guess what I’m saying is the regular folks can’t test it correctly but if they use the radios, cells etc and it fails then it will certainly fail in a hard broad EMP event.

I’m pretty sure that if all it takes is cardboard and a trash can or a microwave then we wouldn’t have been digging 2ft in frozen German ground to bury our batteries. I’ve even seen plastic bags advertising protection which is laughable because static electricity is nowhere near the intensity. The amount of false information out there is crazy.

We all also know the variables are too great for certainties especially with the development of directional EMP weapons or those who live closer to ground zero like Nebraska in comparison to the west side of the Rockies in a singular high altitude detonation which I also very much doubt given that anyone who has 1 weapon probably has many more unless it’s a rouge small group. Any other international attack will have multiple locations with simultaneous strikes.

I was also just seeing if anyone knew of a better test for the community.

MATT in Ok ,,,,,,,I’m limited to what I say in this forum,,,come sit at my table with a cup and that would change ,,,at the aniakchak test’ pulse’ effect was felt on the surface ,the test was DEEP underground we are talking thousands of feet of solid rock ,, the tsar bomba was high in the arctic (ground burst) was recorded in Omaha in a pulse form ,a pulse is not just in the common wave spectrum,and includes gamma radiation ,,see the post by CELE below,
All that said I use a layer system for protection of a ammo can inside a second larger ammo can with rubber sheet separators ,and I leave the rubber top seal intact ,most all ammo cans have a lip that telescope a bit ,that’s not fool proof but should be sufficient for all but a close hit ,that and I store them in a steel job box ,go with the though that if that’s not enough for your gear that there most likely won’t be a need for it anyway ,,
As for a engery beam to focus a event yes we have them ,
If all else fails learn to love the glow
Tea and chocolate

Compton effects are gamma interaction with matter, a nuclear interaction in which the gamma hits an electron results in energy transferring from the photon gamma to electrons in its path scattering the photon and it losing part of its energy to the electron the photon energy hits. This effect does not create an electrical current but charged electrons. The concern being that these charged electrons will destroy circuits designed for current which is moving electrons. Compton is only ONE type of interaction with matter from nuclear blasts.

Nuclear detection instruments of radiation is designed to find and measure these charged electrons. We call these charged electrons beta radiation. They are particles by nature and NOT electrical current. Gamma has the ionizing impact travel as electromagnetic energy or photon. All discussions seem to cross these two up badly. EMP is an outcome of massive nuclear interactions that follows the blast path and burst. Remarks an EMP can wipe out larger areas and take out the USA etc. than the nuclear blast damage is really not physically going to happen. The electrical damage is just that blast impact moment. The nuclear damage has long term impacts. So please keep the rhetoric down. People need information not fiction. The energies of the nuclear blast also do not equate to the electrical magnetic pulse. The nuclear energies are known and constant emissions from their sources. These values again are not electrical charges.

How to protect sump pumps

The above article isnt quite correct. The EMP is a moving magnetic pulse. A wire loop in a varying magnetic field will create a potential (voltage) in the wire. Thats how a motor works, a series of wire loops are spun in a magnetic field. The bigger the loop, or the more turns in the loop, the greater the energy generated in the loop.

The power grid is susceptible to EMP because it is composed of very long wires (many miles long) which basically form huge wire loops. As the EMP travels across these huge power grid loops, gigantic currents can be generated which can burn out transformers. A high enough current will melt the wire in the transmission line itself. For a brief moment before teh grid burns out, there can be huge voltages on the lines that may damage any electrical/electronics connected to the grid.

At the other end, the electronics in your computer is very small but still contains many of these “loops”. Inside an integrated circuit chip (IC), there are loops within the semiconductor material between the various transistors, resistors, etc. etched into the material. These are very small loops, but semiconductor material is sensitive. A strong EMP will burn out an IC. The EMP created when a thyristor blows, or when a person touches and “shocks” a device, can be enough to damage poorly designed electronics.

Within a car, air conditioner, etc., there are similar loops called “ground loops”. Grounds are not all equal even when they are close to each other. The earth, wires, the metal of a car, the metal of an air conditioner case, are not resistance free. The resistance between grounds is small, but given a large voltage or current, it is enough to create a loop and damage the system. A lot of effort goes into electronics and systems to have single point grounds (one ground only) to minimize ground loops.

In general, a solar flare/CME is fairly weak but huge in size, that puts the power grid in jeopardy but not ground based electronics that are not connected to the power grid (unplugged or are turned off). An EMP from a nuclear weapon is so strong that all electrical and electronic systems near the blast are in danger. A Faraday cage is appropriate for a nuclear weapon EMP, probably not required for a CME/flare.

I’m quite familiar with the Compton Event and its effects. These “loops” do exist but any external pulse, noise, emp, whatever would have a gauntlet of sheet metal enclosures to navigate as they are already well shielded from ambient ignition noise. Since this event has never happened this is all speculation and conjecture. Any shielding in addition to is always a good idea but to what extent it’s required, no one knows. If there’s anyone else here with a degree in electronics, worked in the semiconductor business for 23 years and is now an electrical engineer in an R&D lab that would like to have a battle of wits with an bunch of unarmed people, ring out!

yeah, its like how many EMP would have to go off within close proximity of automobiles and other non plugged in electronics or even the grid itself seems to survive lightning strike power surges pretty well. They are really selling this EMP stuff!

Fear sells. America has been slowly bought out since the early 1900s Rothschilds central banking schemes and even worse after the WW2

Monopolies that were created for the war effort but never gotten rid of. Sorry the comment posted before I was done.

Wouldn’t the solenoids have an induced current sufficient to heat it over its resistivity? Presuming the pulse is strong enough.

Lunatics,we finally out smarted ourselves by painting ourselves in corner with no window. Next nuclear, China and Russia gets US our subs gets them(oops, god bless the cock roach).

I think you are correct. There must be a small length of wire acting as an antenna that the EMP will induce current through to be carried to an otherwise shielded device. HOWEVER, directly exposed semiconductors (especially CMOS type) not even wired up can be FRIED by an EMP, and it does not have to be a big one, either. A friend of mine had a bag of ICs (CMOS timers) next to a power cable for a welder and the cable generated enough induced EM Waves that he cooked the WHOLE BAG of them! ($80 down the toilet). Our business is inside of a SOLID Steel building that is very well grounded and the sheets are bonded, so the high voltage has to be carried into the building by wires that breech the walls. We investigated the best way to protect out computer servers inside and we ended up with a “Double DC” system to protect them. We replaced all A/C PS units in the computers with Mobile DC supplies, and supply them with batteries, and the batteries are supplied with charger/supplies, and all of them goes through 2 sets of quick acting fuses. We do have two small skylights that we ordered Phosphor-bronze screen to cover, but have not yet installed it (got to get off my butt and do it). You CAN protect things.

Would inverters do any good from ac to dc and back

I would say governments around the globe realize this. Best bet is CIA keeps a check on countries making resistant military for this type of attack. Our country has contingency plans, even though we have 40 plus year old infrastructures.. If it happens, we can still hit back, so like Reagan said mutually asured.

could we test the questions and find out? Duh!

People need to put their survival electronics in a EMP proof box now, don’t put it off you never know when a EMP strike will happ—……..

How do u build a EMP proof box?

Buy a metal trash bin with a tight metal lid

And line it with cardboard. Don’t let your electronics be in contact with the metal of the container.

I am off the grid solar and worry about my inverters, which are in my basement, and my batteries, which are under my porch. Wondering how I would protect them in the event.

Insulated from the inside of the garbage can by cardboard or similar, non-conductive material, right?

How did we live through the last few millinia? Electricity was expensive.

Can’t you store the smaller stuff in a microwave

Can’t you store the smaller stuff in a microwave

I have read that if you put a cell phone in a microwave, call the number and it rings, your microwave has leaks of energy. If it’s on and doesn’t ring it “might” be okay for storage.

just an idea for an easy faraday cage. if you receive one of those popcorn tins for christmas, that would make a great smaller faraday cage.

Anything placed in a Faraday cage will need to be insulated from the cage exterior. Merely placing items in a metal trash can, with lid, will result in the items contained to become trash. Insulate the contents of your Faraday cage from touching the exterior of the cage.

Ferris metals

Ferrous metals.

And I’ve also read that you should ground the container, as well as insulate items from touching the inside fo the can. What say you? I’m just learning about this topic.

Not so, but cardboard is cheap. Look up Leyden Jar (sp)

I see a lot of emphisis addressing an EMP attack of sort on known electonics but fail to see much discussion on “Radio Frequency weapons and the Infrastructure” . In 1977, Lt General Robert L. Schweitzel, US Army retired, gave a statement to the Joint Economic Committee addressing these issues. The damage to the following systems including civilian infrastructure.

The national telecommunications systems

The national power grid

The national transportation system, to include especially the FAA but also such simple things as our traffic lights (with consequent gridlock)

The mass media

Oil and gas control and refining

Manufacturing processing, inventory control, shipment and tracking

Public works

Civil emergency service

Finance and banking systems (to include bank’s ability to dispense cash)

First of all, an RF weapon is one that uses intense pulses of RF energy to destroy (“burnout”) or degrade (“upset”) the electronics in a target. These weapons can be employed on a narrow beam over a long distance to a point target. They are also able to cover broad targets. They are categorized as high power microwave (HPM) weapons and ultra wide band (UWB) weapons.

phrase non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse is sometimes used, because these weapons, which are indeed non-nuclear, project the same type of pulse we first learned of in conjunction with nuclear weapons. As a practical matter, a piece of electronic gear on the ground, in a vehicle, ship or plane does not really care whether it is hit by a nuclear magnetic pulse or a non-nuclear one. The effect is the same. It burns out the electronics. The same is true of the computers in this Senate office building, in industry, or on Wall Street.

This list of potentially vulnerable targets could and should be extended to include airplanes, ships, vehicles and the like. Of interest is the fact that we are doubly vulnerable because we are, and will remain, in an era of dual use of military and civilian systems. For example, 90% of our military communications now passes over public networks. If an electromagnetic pulse takes out the telephone systems, we are in deep double trouble because our military and non-military nets are virtually inseparable. It is almost equally impossible to distinguish between the U.S. national telecommunications network and the global one. What this means is that it is finally becoming possible to do what Sun Tzu wrote about 2000 years ago: to conquer an enemy without fighting. The paradigm of war may well be changing. If you can take out the civilian economic infrastructure of a nation, then that nation in addition to not being able to function internally cannot deploy its military by air or sea, or supply them with any real effectiveness–if at all.

Though much of our military will be disabled, the military of our foreign adversaries will not be affected. It is believed that shortly after the looters and savages pillage society, our worst of adversaries will have a massive number of boots on the ground with the military equipment and Arsenal to reek hell on US structures and civilians.

Very true ‘sixpense’. It’s a good thing an AR-15 doesn’t rely on electrical power…

A couple points I want to make. One the Electromagnetic wave will induce a high voltage on any metal object it hits. That voltage is normally bled off of any object that is grounded. Any object that is not grounded will not bleed off (like your car) but may act like a Capaciter and hold that charge. I wonder how many people will die by opening their car door and providing a path to ground for that energy. I plan to ground out any metal after an EMP strike. Keep in mind that old style TV’s would hold enough charge to kill you even after being turned off for a month.
I believe that EMP’s will be a much used battlefield strategy in the coming years. It is only a matter of time till we are hit as our enemies will want to remove our electronic helpers from any conflict. So after the emp strike don’t assume there won’t be any more. There may well be dozens as our enemies try to take out any hardened electronics or any kept in faraday cages

I went to the local junkyard and gathered up all the components for the ignition systen on a vehicle identical to mine, including the brain box on the inner fender. Placed them in my faraday cage and am hoping for the best!Who knows I might be one of the only ones driving around my area besides the local laguardia seville, gestapo, jeand’armes, cops or what ever you want to call them I just hope they don’t want to commandeer my vihicle because they didn’t think ahead!

Won’t do much driving if the electronics that control gas station pumps are fried. Will have to dive into the tanks. :D

If you live within 50 miles of a nuclear reactor (or more if down wind) your screwed. EMP happens, no electricity, no filling of cooling pools for spent rods and the tanks soon boil over. After that were all going to have a nice warm glow. Prep all you want…..not going to be pretty

You can do all you want to protect all you have, but if an EMP were to hit any nation with Nuclear Power Plants……its over for everyone. There would be no more habitable northern hemisphere. Possible no southern hemisphere habitable either due to a chain effect of Nuclear plants failing.

It seems to me this is contrary to physics. Tesla claimed to be able to transmit electricity energy through the air although no one has been able to duplicate what he claimed to have done. Lightning travels through air with tremendous energy but with untold power. If EMP works as it is claimed It seem that someone may be close to transmitting energy through the air.

will an EMP do damage to a car battery? could it be over charged and burnt up?

Solar panels still in the box. Will they be affected by emp.

@ Terry
If the panels contain electrical components and are not stored in a Faraday Cage, probably yes they would be damaged like any other electronics

the induction formed in the wires is made very powerful by a long wire will get a higher spike and will travel through the wires and will blow most things plugged in. a spike of unknown voltage might pass over an overload strip.

Do I have put my AAA. AA batteries in farady container?

No. An EMP should not effect batteries.

Do I have to put my Triple-A batteries in double a batteries in a faraday bag to protect them also I have a gun safe that runs on a 9-volt battery to open the combination is it in danger

@ Hoghunter
If ya get hit with an EMP or a CME you will probably have a very difficult time getting into the safe. Would suggest having the lock mechanism changed out

If a solar generator is in a faraday bag, how long after the bomb burst would it be safe to take the generator out of the bag to use it?

Lol read again

Everybody is thinking hard how he can protect our household equipment.

I see it as resolving the symptoms and not the cause.

How much simpler would it be when we spent our efforts to take away the cause of the problem. Why are we waiting to put the elite in a Faraday cage. And throw the keys in a deep ocean.

Those crooks who have willingly used everything that they could to lead this world into devastation. They murdered millions of people. Started two world wars and are poking bear Russia to start an other one.

Why is Hillary not in jail, why is Obama not in jail, why is the FED still in operation … We know who the crooks are, we know what they did. What are we waiting for?

We are all frogs in water that is heating up slowly while nothing is done … That is our biggest mistake!!

Do not wait for a government organization who is going to solve your problems. That will never happen as the government is the problem.


You just advertised yourself to the looters! Having a single light on will alert them. Are you prepared to defend an entire city? This macho man thing isn’t going to work out so well either. It’s all as Johnny Cash said in his song “Going by the book”.

Your typical drill, especially cordless battery powered, uses a transistor for variable speed so yes, it is likely to be fried, particularly because it is connected to the motor which will induce more than if it weren’t connected to it.

I’m not by any means an authority on Electricity or EMP. But I do have a question about the question as to if something was not plugged in will it be affected. Two thoughts come to mind. For something to be shorted out doesn’t it have to be plugged in so that current and ground have a complete circuit. So if an appliance is not plugged into ground how then can it be affected. Just because you have current would not seem to mean a given appliance will be dead if it were not grounded. Setting aside all the caveats previously talked about. For example in a operational wire feed welder you cannot weld anything, even though the welder is running if the object you are welding is not sufficiently grounded, because current no matter the amount does not have a complete path. Which brings a new thought in cars if you were to install a battery disconnect switch to disconnect the negative terminal on the battery and any other associated grounds to curcuits when not in operation, thereby removing the complete circuit path to auto electronics wouldn’t a car survive. So long as it was not in operation when an EMP occurred and the battery ground and circuit
grounds were disconnected.

I am worried about nuclear power plants Will an EMP destroy controls and emergency systems?
Could a melt-down result? What are the plants doing to protect them?

I’ve heard that during the 8 years of Obama *and maybe even under Bush* we’ve used up all our conventional weapons. We only have nukes left and since we haven’t actually used one in anger I wonder if they have all degraded much like the *suitcases* bombs that went missing from Russia.

Things are as Johnny Cash said “Going by the book”. America is the thorn on the side of the globalists and has to be removed. We are the *mystery babylon* that will fall. 9/11 might have been that already as it predicted an attack on *mystery babylon* that will fall within an hour which the twin towers did and we have been a former shell ever since led by globalists. Bush caved into his Daddy’s demands and buddied with the global elites and are friends with Obama/Clintons the trio circle.

There is nothing Trump can do or should do. I suspect he will be murdered as they think Hillary will win but law states that Vice President Mike Pence will replace Trump if he is unable to complete his duty *either dead or arrested*. Today’s generation either doesn’t know the law or are lying thru their teeth.

My question is will an EMP affect battery operated devices, like our flashlight? Which naturally runs on batteries.

I guess according to most of these people out here on the Internet you just line a box that has a tight fitting lid with aluminum foil and use that as a faraday cage.
It can’t be that easy . . .

It’s not. Put a liner of cardboard in the can. Leave what you want to protect in their boxes. Wrap the boxes in foil ensuring there are no gaps. Wrap that in construction paper, and then foil again. Make sure the cans seals tightly and cover the seams with conductive tape.
If so inclined and want a better chance of your gear surviving, wrap the can in heavy/multiple layers of wrapping paper and then wrap it all up in copper mesh (Copper Mesh). Keep it in your basement or an interior room/closet.

That’s the best construction method I have read.

Old school all metal bird/animal cages/pens may work as well. Just makes sure you gear is not touching exposed metal of the cage and follow the same wrapping method.

I put a small radio in a Christmas tin lined with cardboard, turned on the radio and sealed it up. Note that I sanded the rim and lid to ensure a good connection for my faraday gage. I could still hear the radio suggesting to me that radio waves were penetrating my faraday cage. I then made a second, larger cage and placed the first cage inside. I could still hear the radio. It took three embedded cages to eliminate all radio reception. I haven’t tried a metal trash can but it seems prudent to do so before trusting it as a faraday cage.

The sound waves produced by your radio is what penetrated the Faraday Cage. To test a cage. put your cell phone inside and call it. If it rings, your cage is not adequate. No ring means it is doing the job.

can emp take out baderys


Normally an EMP will not destroy a Battery, unless it has an internal charge regulator or some other ‘electronic’ device built into the Battery.

Sounds pretty bad. ,i will take my chances at my home ,,don’t need power,,to survive ,

What about batteries. I presume they would be fried as well?

So is it a waste of our time and money to build faraday protection? Best cage for generator would be alumium mesh with glued wood frame or metal box insulated and grounded.