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Thread: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

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    Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    Lightning damage to sensitive electronics is a major concern of mine. I usually unplug my computer and sensitive electronics when we have bad lightning storms, since I don't trust surge protectors.

    What about inverter welders? I recently bought an ESAB Miniarc 161LTS which is a dual voltage inverter stick welder. Great little welder, BTW. I was wondering if any of you guys who run inverter-type welders ever unplug them during lightning storms since they are packed with electronics? Or, has anyone had an inverter welder damaged from lightning?

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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    Inverter welders are basically a computer power supply.
    So I would say they need to be unplugged.

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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    I don't unplug anything. Only trouble we have had with lightning is phone lines, our lines have been fried 5-6 times. My inverter welder gets unplugged and packed in the case after every use but everything else stays plugged in.
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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    I unplug all my welders when done using them that day (or throw the breaker) - mig, stick, tig.

    I even throw the breaker on my compressor.

    It's just part of my shop shut-down at the end of the day. Check tanks are closed, unplug or throw breakers.

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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    Our local welding supply fella has a shop of his own. He says he's lost a couple of inverters to lightning so everything's unplugged. We lost a 350P a few years back because I forgot to turn it off at the end of the day and we had a lightning storm come thru that night. Next morning no machine, fried board....Mike

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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    Quote Originally Posted by MinnesotaDave View Post
    I unplug all my welders when done using them that day (or throw the breaker) - mig, stick, tig.

    I even throw the breaker on my compressor.

    It's just part of my shop shut-down at the end of the day. Check tanks are closed, unplug or throw breakers.
    +1

    I've lost plenty of stuff from lightning, and don't want to lose more!

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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    Whats a LIGHTING STORM........Hahahahaha



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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    Quote Originally Posted by B_C View Post
    Whats a LIGHTING STORM........Hahahahaha
    That's when all the lights in the house come on!!!

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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    Thanks to all with the suggestions on unplugging the inverter during a LIGHTNING storm

    I'll start doing that. It's amazing what things one doesn't think about in the shop but takes care of in the house. Going out right now to unplug the little beauty.

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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    This is interesting to me because our shop is in an old building in an old part of town. And the building is covered with corrugated steel (courtesy of Armco Steel at some point) so we are no strangers to storms knocking out our power, but we have never lost a welder because of it. And we have a half dozen inverters that are always plugged in. Am I just lucky or are there factors that make some welders/electronics more susceptible to damage?

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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    Quote Originally Posted by rgfab242 View Post
    This is interesting to me because our shop is in an old building in an old part of town. And the building is covered with corrugated steel (courtesy of Armco Steel at some point) so we are no strangers to storms knocking out our power, but we have never lost a welder because of it. And we have a half dozen inverters that are always plugged in. Am I just lucky or are there factors that make some welders/electronics more susceptible to damage?
    I think you are just really lucky, as am I. I have never had lightning damage, but the first time I risk leaving everything plugged in, that's when I'll get it. As has been pointed out, the inverters use a circuit board and that's enough to convince me. Maybe your metal building provides some kind of shielding.

    I had a neighbor once who had a 60 ft. tall oak tree in his front yard. He had the 12 volt landscape lighting around the tree, shining up into it. One night, he got hit...bolt hit the tree, split it open, travelled down the 12 volt light wiring, into his house, blew the landscape lighting 12v transformer, his fax machine, computers, his central heating unit, central air conditioning unit, television, stereo and a bunch of lights!!! Thousands of dollars worth of damage. Lucky, no fire. Made a believer of me. I know of several folks who have lost computer equipment from lightning events. Sometimes the lightning damage doesn't come from the power lines, but other sources like the neighbor.

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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    Quote Originally Posted by shortfuse View Post
    Thanks to all with the suggestions on unplugging the inverter during a LIGHTNING storm .
    Your telco does not unplug all phones with each storm. Suffers about 100 surges incoming to their sensitive (and $multi-million) electronic switch. How often is your town without phone service for four days after each storm?

    Direct strikes without damage are routinely averted. But that means remembering concepts originally taught in elementary school science.

    Lightning seeks earth ground. A path for a 20,000 amp electric surge is via a wooden church steeple destructively to earth. Wood is not a good conductor. So 20,000 amps creates a high voltage. 20,000 amps times a high voltage is high energy. Church steeple damaged.

    Franklin installed a lightning rod. Now 20,000 amps is via a wire to an earthing electrode. High current creates near zero voltage. 20,000 amps times a near zero voltage is near zero energy. Nothing damaged.

    Lightning seeks earth ground. A lightning strike to utility wires far down the street is a direct strike, incoming to every appliance (ie welder), destructively to earth. Appliances are not a good conductor. So lightning creates a high voltage. Lightning current times a high voltage is high energy. Appliances damaged.

    For over 100 years, facilities that cannot have damage installed superior earthing connected low impedance (ie 'less than 10 feet') via one 'whole house' protector. Then high current creates near zero voltage. 20,000 amps times a near zero voltage is near zero energy. No appliance damage.

    Does every wire connect low impedance (ie 'less than 10 foot') to earth (directly or via a protector) before entering the building? If not, then you have invited lightning to go hunting for earth destructively via household appliances.

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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    Lightning will destroy any welders left plugged in.Lightning can jump switches and breakers.Inverters are full of parts that can be destroyed by a lightning strike.I have been in electronics since 1950.Lightning can blow fuses and light bulbs out of sockets.If you think you know more about the subject leave your inverters plugged in.

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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    Lightning strikes the power lines,dosnt matter what the building is roofed with.

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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    Quote Originally Posted by farmer37 View Post
    Lightning will destroy any welders left plugged in.Lightning can jump switches and breakers.Inverters are full of parts that can be destroyed by a lightning strike.I have been in electronics since 1950.Lightning can blow fuses and light bulbs out of sockets.If you think you know more about the subject leave your inverters plugged in.
    Two year old thread, but always worth repeating. True fact right there^^^^^

    A LIGHTNING STRIKE TO YOUR BUILDING OR ELECTRICAL SERVICE CAN/WILL SMOKE AN INVERTER/SOLID STATE WELDER IN SHORT ORDER!!!

    So can back feeds, power surges, you name it.

    It is a fact. I've repaired machines damaged by lightning strikes before. I've also repaired inverters damaged by power surges in individual circuits. The damage was very real and expensive. I unplug all my welding machines after every use.

    As Farmer said, don't believe it? Leave them plugged in.

    I won't.

    IMHO of course
    Last edited by 7A749; 06-07-2015 at 07:48 PM.

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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    It's obvious inverters are vulnerable to lightning induced surges. I see lightning damage to certain buildings, but not others. An average bolt of lightning is estimated to be 25 trillion watts. 5000000 volts, 5000000 amps. Nothing can survive that. In most cases lightning is shared by lots of paths to earth. If it strikes a power line, each pole has a ground wire, and ground rod. As this is shared, it seems the worst damage, most frequently is to remote locations, at or near the end of a power line. One home took several serious strikes over the power line. Their nearest grid connected neighbor was a mile away. The owners told me they had lost two previous houses to lightning. The third home was made by converting the dairy barn. I installed a carbon ball lightning arrestor, and an electronic whole house surge arrestor.

    A few months after move in day, I got the call. Your surge arrestor is no good! I drove out to see. The lightning arrestor was destroyed, an exploded mess. The surge arrestor looked OK at first, until I noticed the back was missing. It was blown through enough to penetrate the 3/4" CDX plywood it was mounted to! Electrical damage was limited to a GFCI receptacle mounted below it. I say they did their job. The home is still standing!

    By all means, unplug. If you can't unplug, turn off. Lightning is powerful enough to jump a switch, but usually choses an easier path than over an open switch. If you forget, the odds are still in your favor. Then again, the odds are in your favor playing Russian Roulette.
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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    The delorean survived a bolt of lightning in 1955.
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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    It pays to evaluate your exposure.

    I live in a neighborhood with buried electrical service. There are no lightning strikes nearby. By the time the energy from a lightning strike gets from a transmission tower to my area, it's already diverted to ground. I do not disconnect my equipment.

    I used to be a phone company technician. The reason lightning does not kill the switching system? Simple; there is a special gap to ground at the point where a cable enters the phone company building. There is another at every single house. If lightning strikes, it arcs across that gap and shorts out to ground on both ends of the cable. This device is known as a "lighting arrester" and there are a hundreds of millions in place worldwide.

    I have similar devices in the surge suppressors in my house.

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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    Quote Originally Posted by dbstoo View Post
    It pays to evaluate your exposure.

    I live in a neighborhood with buried electrical service. There are no lightning strikes nearby. By the time the energy from a lightning strike gets from a transmission tower to my area, it's already diverted to ground. I do not disconnect my equipment.

    I used to be a phone company technician. The reason lightning does not kill the switching system? Simple; there is a special gap to ground at the point where a cable enters the phone company building. There is another at every single house. If lightning strikes, it arcs across that gap and shorts out to ground on both ends of the cable. This device is known as a "lighting arrester" and there are a hundreds of millions in place worldwide.

    I have similar devices in the surge suppressors in my house.

    Dan
    Carbon ball arrestors use a similar technology. Lightning voltages will conduct through the carbon. They cost about $20, and take 15 minutes to install. They don't do much for lower voltage surges.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    Quote Originally Posted by Oscar View Post
    The delorean survived a bolt of lightning in 1955.
    As did Doc.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    Quote Originally Posted by dbstoo View Post
    I used to be a phone company technician. The reason lightning does not kill the switching system? Simple; there is a special gap to ground at the point where a cable enters the phone company building. There is another at every single house. If lightning strikes, it arcs across that gap and shorts out to ground on both ends of the cable.
    Telco $multi-million equipment is connected to wires all over town. That CO will suffer about 100 surges with each storm. So why do they not disconnect? It’s not so much about the gap. Protection is about what the gap (and now semiconductor type protectors) connect to.

    Protectors never do protection. That confusion is why so many have surge protectors and still suffer damage. Protection is about where hundreds of thousands of joules harmlessly dissipate. And so telco protectors, that protect from every direct lightning strike, connect to something more important than a protector - single point earth ground.

    That wall receptacle safety ground is clearly not earth ground. Anyone who confuses that with earth ground did not yet learn concepts essential to understand why lightning damage is directly traceable to human mistakes.

    Lightning is incoming to everything inside a building. But lightning only destroys the one item that is also a connection to earth. That one item acts like a protector for all other electrical devices. That one item is damaged because a human failed to provide that connect to earth BEFORE a surge could enter the building.

    Voltage is also irrelevant. Properly earthed protection means all that voltage exists and almost none is even inside a protector that is connecting lightning 'low impedance' to earth. It is the low impedance that says why a direct lightning strike dissipates massive energy harmlessly and outside.

    That same concept also says why plug-in protectors do not even claim to protect from typically destructive surges. And why facilities that cannot have damage do not waste money on those completely different and ineffective protectors. So that 100 surges per storm do not cause damage.

    Unplugging is simply a less reliable and additional protection layer. Essetial is what defines the 'primary' and 'secondary' protection layers as summarized above.
    Last edited by westom; 06-08-2015 at 09:17 AM.

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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    Quote Originally Posted by B_C View Post
    Whats a LIGHTING STORM........Hahahahaha
    Something that happens when it RAINs LMAO !!!
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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    Funny as hell this thread got dug up after being dormant for two years, now everybody is arguing about it

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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    I guess it was a good argument. A few years back we had a lightning strike hit a spruce tree behind my dad's house (not far from a power line, by the way). There was an old support cable for a tv antenna no longer used that had got wrapped around the base. The lightning blew the top off the tree, travelled down the cable to the base, and blew the bark off the bottom. The rest of the tree was undamaged and is still alive. Nothing fried in the house right away, so no insurance claim, but apparently the surge was on the ground side. Over the next 2 months the tv died, a sump pump quit, the pressure system died and the microwave oven needed to be replaced. One of my AC welders has stayed plugged in for over 40 yrs with no problems, but I unplug my compressor and MIG at the end of the day.
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    Re: Possible lightning danger with inverter welder

    Quote Originally Posted by 7A749 View Post
    Funny as hell this thread got dug up after being dormant for two years, now everybody is arguing about it
    Just shows you can't kill a good thread....

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