How do I protect my power system against an EMP or another Carrington Event?

Hello my friend and welcome back! I received a letter from one of my readers who goes by the name of Dan.  What he wants to know is how he can protect his wind turbine and solar panels, as well as his electronics, from an EMP or another Carrington Event CME.  He also wants to know how deep his underground shelter needs to be to protect what he has there.  WOW!  That was a mouth full.  This is the subject of today’s post, so grab a cup of coffee my friend and have a seat while we visit.

Here is his actual question:

“Do you have any knowledge of resources that would help me optimize the protection of the energy supply system we are putting in place to withstand a Carrington scale CME? What is the size and duration of the pulse and what depth of soil would protect components in a well-sealed root cellar with concrete walls and ceiling? “

Let’s start with the Carrington Event. While there are estimates of The Carrington events pertaining to size and duration, unfortunately they vary wildly.  You see, the trouble is that back when it occurred, there were no machines yet for measuring them, heck, they didn’t even know what it was at first.

Can you just imaging that poor telegraph worker sitting there when everything started to hum and explode. Yep, I bet there was a lot of dirty underwear that night.  Of course, who could blame them?  No one had ever seen anything like it. Batteries exploding, wires catching fire and the lights in the sky surely made them think it was the end of time.  I’m just glad I wasn’t there!

OK Sarge, back on track… I guess the simple answer to your question is NO due to the fact that no one knows how strong it actually was or how long it really lasted. I do truly wish I could tell you what you want to know, but I can’t.  I would only be guessing.

Let’s talk about protecting your electrical backup systems for your location. Let’s start with what an EMP is and how it affects your systems.  Pulses start by inducing electricity into anything of metal.  We’re talking thousands or millions of volts here.  The smaller the item is many people believe the hotter it will get simply because it cannot dissipate the heat that is caused by the electricity affecting it.

Now don’t get discouraged by how bad it sounds. There are ways of protecting your equipment, the wire outside…Not so much!  One thing that you have going in your favor is that electricity is electricity whether it is induced or comes from a wall socket which means there are certain predictable characteristics that you can use to your favor.   As everyone knows, electricity always seeks the shortest path to ground!

OK, so how does that help us? If it wants ground then give it a good solid way to get to ground without destroying everything you have.  Things like lightning rods could be used to help lessen the damage to your systems.  This is why people recommend that you store electronics in a metal locker or something.  The only thing is that if the metal locker is not grounded, it will do you very little good.

In fact, it may act as an attractor to the electricity and if it has nowhere to go, what then? In my humble opinion, it will take a little more to protect your electrical equipment.  You still need to separate them from the metal by several layers of non-metallic insulation.  I myself use a lot of Mylar bags, you see, Mylar bags are made by placing a thin metal material between two sheets of plastic.  This allows the metal in the Mylar to redirect any induced field away from the electronics contained within,

I still place them inside other containers which also act as Faraday cages. This just gives me that much more protection.  While I am no Electrical Engineer, it is my understanding that this is the best way to approach this.  If any of you are Electrical Engineers, please give us your opinion on this.

As for how deep your root shelter should be to avoid it being affected by an EMP, I honestly have no idea son. I’m sure I’m missing something here, but if I am, could some of you be nice enough to answer that part?  Well, my coffee is cold so I need to go,  Until next time, stay safe, stay strong and stay prepared.  God Bless America!




The Sgt.

Prepper, Patriot, and Proud U.S. ARMY Veteran.

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8 Responses

  1. RayK says:

    Earth and concrete will not provide much protection, if any, from EMP or CME effects. If you are still designing your construction, you can embed metallic and grounded screening in the floor, walls, ceiling and doors. Drive the ground rod under the concrete (prior to pour) so that it can be shielded a bit by the structure above. Doing a ground afterwards can create an antenna, rather than a ground. Any gaps in the screening (ceiling to wall joints, door frames, etc) will allow magnetic pulse energy to enter, rendering your work less effective or worthless.

    A good way to test your Faraday cage is to put a radio inside of it and close it up. If you can still hear the radio, you are not protected.

    There are mixed reviews on whether or not one should ground a Faraday cage. Mine are not directly grounded, and the contents are insulated from the protective shell with a thick layer or corrugated cardboard.

  2. Vinny says:

    Wouldn’t the rebar used in concrete floors, walls and ceilings of an underground structure, act as a faraday cage?

    • The Sgt. says:

      I would think that Rebar would be spaced too far apart to do any good. I do know that the frequency of the pulse has a lot to do with whether or not your Faraday cage will work though. Having said that, having a solid metal shield between you and it would make the most sense to me.

  3. Dan says:

    I use galvanized metal trash cans (with lid) and line them with 1 inch styrofoam for most of my small electronics.

  4. Foot says:

    Check out the work of Dr. Arthur T. Bradley. He wrote the book on emp effects and shielding against them.

  5. Ben Leucking says:

    Numerous articles by electrical engineers say you should not ground a Faraday cage. In addition to galvanized steel garbage cans, you can also use .50 cal ammo boxes. Insulate the contents using a non-conducting material, such as cardboard on all sides, including the top, to prevent items from coming in contact with the metal surfaces of the can. I use ammo cans for handheld radio gear, which I keep in my vehicle. Here is a good nontechnical article, recently posted on the “Ask A Prepper” web site: