You either love them or hate them — thunderstorms are both impressive to look at as well as terribly frightening. The United States alone experiences as many as 100,000 storms per year, which cause about 25 million lightning strikes. Most of the lighting strikes occur during the summer, just when we use our air conditioner the most. With lightning strikes occurring so often you may wonder: should you turn off air conditioner during storm? We’ll answer that question below.
Why Is It Important To Turn Off An Air Conditioner During A Storm?
Leaving your air conditioner on during a storm can lead to damage. If your house is hit by lightning, the lighting will travel through the path of least resistance. For a house, the path of least resistance is typically the electrical wires. If your air conditioner is running while lighting travels through the electrical wires, the lightning can melt the plug to your unit, making it unusable.
Lightning bolts can be charged with as much as five billion joules of energy. This is enough to completely toast your air conditioner, leaving it too damaged to be used and possibly also destroy its surroundings.
So should you turn off an air conditioner during a storm? To be completely safe, you should turn off your air conditioner during a storm. There are a few additional measures you can take to protect your house and appliances.
How Can I Protect My Air Conditioner?
As mentioned before, the electrical service drops where the utility lines connect to your house, making roofs vulnerable to lighting strikes. Installing some safety measures in your home can help with this risk. The safety measures include lightning rods, conductors, and ground rods to create an alternate path for the lighting. This will allow the lighting to divert from your house’s electrical system.
Another option is to use a surge protector to plug your air conditioner in. This type of device is designed to guard against lightning strikes, thereby protecting your devices.
While these measures will certainly lower the risk of a lightning strike, it does not provide a full-proof protection for electronics. Therefore, it’s always best to turn off your air conditioner during a thunderstorm.
How To Notice A Thunderstorm
To know when to turn your air conditioner off, it’s handy to be aware of an approaching thunderstorm. As a general rule, where there is thunder, there is lightning. While a storm may seem far away, you could easily be tricked. Did you know that lightning can hit as far as 10 miles away from the point of generation? While lightning strikes are statistically rare, they are possible. For this reason, it’s best to take precautions as soon as you hear thunder or see lightning.
There is an easy trick to determine how far away a thunderstorm is. First, count the number of seconds between the flash of lightning and the rumble of the thunder. Then simply divide the number of seconds by five and you get the distance in miles. Hence, if you count 10 seconds, the storm is 2 miles away. If the flash of lighting is almost immediate with the sound of the thunder, the storm is extremely near, and you should seek shelter.
Rainfall without thunder or lightning
Using your AC during regular rainfall is not a problem. Unless lightning and thunder are involved, it cannot pose any danger to your electricals. In that case, you can continue to run your air conditioner without a worry.
In conclusion, your safest bet is to power down your air conditioner at the first sight of lightning. You do not necessarily have to disconnect your air conditioner; simply turning it off so that the machine is not running will do the trick. While the heat and humidity a storm brings can certainly be uncomfortable, it’s better to turn the air conditioner off and avoid the risk of having to buy a whole new system.