For years, readers have asked me if there exits a whole house surge protection device that would specifically guard against an EMP and CME. My answer has always been “no.” While there are a few products on the market that claim to do so, in my assessment, none truly protect against an EMP or CME. The reason is that no product that I’m aware of has addressed the very slow impulse of energy that is associated with the E3 component of an EMP or the geomagnetic effects of a CME. Furthermore, most do a poor job of addressing the E1 component of an EMP.
The difficulty of developing such a product is that it can’t contain sensitive semiconductor electronics that might be damaged by the event itself. While it’s certainly possible, the sad truth is that industry hasn’t seen a large enough market to spend the nonrecoverable engineering costs required to develop an effective device that would protect against these grave threats.
Until now… allow me to introduce the EMPStorm™ . The EMPStorm™ is to be the first 3-stage, UL 1449-tested, Type 2 Surge Protection Device designed from scratch to protect not only against common threats like a nearby lightning strike, but also against the conducted effects of an electromagnetic pulse and a solar storm.
By pre-ordering one or more EMPStorms™, you are ensuring that you receive one of the units. I am limiting production to 500 units, and I may never make any more! If you want one, you should pre-order now.
Protected devices could include computers, televisions, stereos, home security systems, appliances, electric cars, generators, solar generation systems, etc. The EMPStorm™ has the potential to save users thousands of dollars in damage, as well as help to ensure that their critical electronics are operational during times of national crisis.
The videos below talk about why I took on this development and the progress made so far.
#1 – STUDY Phase Complete (Nov 12, 2018)
#2 – SIMULATION Phase Complete (Dec 1, 2018)
#3 – PROTOTYPE PARTS Phase Complete (Jan 12, 2019)
#4 – PROTOTYPE ASSEMBLY Phase Complete (Feb 3, 2019)
#5 – PROTOTYPE TESTING (E3/CME) Phase Complete (Feb 9, 2019)
Connecting the EMPStorm to your home or business is very straightforward and can be done in one of several ways (see figure below). The preferred methods are to connect it to either a double-pole or two single-pole breakers feeding your most critical systems. This is done easily (and to code) using Ilsco clamps, which will ship with the unit for a modest cost (~2 for $10). In both cases, you should try to use thermal secondary breakers and a thermal-magnetic main breaker. If properly configured, the main breaker will trip first under an E3/CME event. If, however, for some reason the main fails to trip, the secondary breaker(s) will trip to protect your most critical electronics.
Not that while installation is straightforward, the electrical code requires that installation of all Type 2 surge protection devices be performed by a licensed electrician.
As with most technologies, there are tremendous differences in quality when it comes to surge suppressors. Not only does their performance vary greatly, so does their build construction. I invite you to watch the video below where I illustrate this point by showing you the internals of two well-known surge protection devices. One is built reasonably well and offers L-L, L-N, N-G, and L-G protection, while the other offers limited protection and is built to the poorest of workmanship standards.
Rest assured that the EMPStorm™ will be of the highest quality, designed and built to provide protection for many years to come.
Testing of a surge protection device (SPD) requires the use of high-voltage surge generators. These generators apply several thousand volts to the input lines with predefined timing and waveform shapes that are dependent on the specifications that the product is trying to meet. In the case of the EMPStorm™, the product will be tested to levels dictated by UL 1449. Such testing is incredibly expensive but also critical to ensuring a safe and effective product. Never attach a surge suppression device to your home that is not tested to UL 1449 levels!
Unfortunately, testing to UL 1449 in no way ensures that the unit would protect your home or business during an EMP or solar storm. Rather, additional testing is required in which the pulse rise time and duration can be carefully controlled to mimic those of the E1 and E2 waveforms of a nuclear-generated EMP (see waveform figure below). Likewise, to ensure the product would protect against a coronal mass ejection or the EMP E3 pulse, a lower voltage, long duration pulse must be applied.
While most quality surge protectors would offer some protection against E2 (the Intermediate Time pulse), few would offer much against E1, and none would protect against E3. This is because E1 is simply too fast for conventional surge protection devices to turn on. Likewise, E3 would be felt as a long low-value slug of energy that likely would not trip either the surge protection or the panel breakers.
By combining conventional UL 1449 surge/safety testing with military-defined testing of MIL-STD-461 (CS115, CS116, and CS117), the EMPStorm™ will be demonstrated to protect against not only routine surges from nearby lighting strikes or load switching, but also the unique and harmful effects of both a nuclear-generated EMP and a solar coronal mass ejection. As far as I know, this will be the first surge protection device tested to so modern military surge and lightning standards.
A Word of Caution: Beware a company’s claims about testing. If they won’t produce a copy of the report, they likely either failed the test or didn’t run it at all. For example, one well-known company states that their product is “UL-1449 compliant,” but will not produce a test report. Furthermore, they claim their product has been tested to MIL-STD-188-125-1, an antiquated EMP standard, but upon review of the report, we see that they omitted the E3 portion of the conducted test. Bottom line is to believe only what you can verify. All test reports for the EMPStorm™ will be posted and publicly available for review.
I begin all my talks and books by asking one simple question: Why bother? Our lives are already busy enough, our money stretched thin, and our worries piled high. Is a surge suppression device that protects your home’s or business’s electronics from a solar storm or electromagnetic pulse really something you should care about?
I strongly believe the answer to this question is “yes,” but obviously, you’ll have to decide for yourself. My goal is not to talk you into buying this new surge suppression device, but rather to help educate you on two very real threats to our nation: the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and the solar coronal mass ejection (CME). The first is caused by a nuclear warhead detonating high in the atmosphere, and the second by the Sun ejecting charged plasma toward our planet. Each threat is briefly discussed below.
The Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)
EMPs were first discovered during the testing of nuclear warheads back in the 1960s, the most famous of which was known as Starfish Prime. The atmospheric detonation over the mid-Pacific Ocean caused tremendous electromagnetic energy to be felt 900 miles away in Hawaii, knocking out street lights, setting off burglar alarms, and damaging microwave communications. In 1962, the Russians took it a step further, testing three EMP-producing nuclear weapons over a populated area of Kazakhstan. While the warheads were extremely small by today’s standards, the pulses induced on underground power lines were so great that they caused a fire in a city’s power plant. Hostile countries that could initiate such an attack today include Russia, China, Pakistan, and perhaps North Korea.
The threat was viewed as so grave that in 2001 our government formed a special commission to assess the impact of such an attack. Their conclusion was that an EMP “has the capability to produce significant damage to critical infrastructures that support the fabric of U.S. society and the ability of the United States and Western nations to project influence and military power,” and “damage to or loss of these components could leave significant parts of the electric power grid out of service for months to a year or more.” The damage to electronics and loss of electricity would lead to the subsequent disruption of every other national infrastructure, including food and water distribution, telecommunications, banking, transportation, emergency services, government, and energy production.
Solar Coronal Mass Ejection
Likewise, a solar storm that releases a large coronal mass ejection could introduce similar hardships. The power grid would again likely be disrupted, and surges would damage countless electronic systems attached to the grid, both within industry and in the home. The differences between a massive solar storm and an EMP are twofold. First, unlike in the case of an EMP, a solar event would only have low-frequency content, which means that it would be limited to coupling onto long conductors. This means that free-standing electronics, like cars or iphones, would not be damaged. Instead, it would be things that drew power from the electrical grid that were destroyed.
The second difference between an EMP and a solar storm is that an EMP is not a certainty. Perhaps our enemies will never decide to initiate such an attack, although I should point out that both Russia and North Korea have explicitly threatened to do so. By comparison, a solar storm is a certainty. Simply put, it is only a matter of time before Earth is hit by a large coronal mass ejection that cripples our electrical grid and causes unimaginable damage to electronics all around the nation. It’s a case of when, not if.
Major solar storms occur every one to two hundred years. The most significant one in recent history hit in 1859 and was known as The Carrington Event. The event was so powerful that telegraph stations caught fire. If such an event were to occur today, experts agree that it would significantly disrupt our electrical grid and cause extensive damage to electronic equipment across the continent, if not the entire globe.
Both the EMP and CME could cause extensive damage to your personal property and leave you vulnerable during a national (or global) crisis. While the mechanisms of these two threats are quite different, the impacts are largely the same. Both would cause incredible currents to flow on the power lines, damaging transformers and other grid components, as well as personal devices that were plugged in at the time of the event.
I hope that I’ve convinced you that these threats ARE MOST DEFINITELY worth bothering over. Probably the question I’m asked most often is “If the grid is fried, what good is protecting my home electronics?”
There are four very good reasons to install an EMPStorm™:
1. It could save you thousands of dollars in damage to your home electronics (or generator) from a surge on the power lines caused by any reason.
2. In the case of an intermittent disruption, the EMPStorm™ could allow you to power up your home or business when power was restored, even if it was just for brief interludes. This would be crucial to maintaining a reasonable quality of life.
3. In the case of a prolonged outage, the EMPStorm™ would enable a backup system, like a generator, solar power generation system, or battery-powered inverter, to be connected to the home to conduct important activities, such as tuning into the radio for updates, washing clothes, cooking food, cooling the house, charging batteries, etc.
4. If you have a solar or wind power generation system, the EMPStorm™ products could help to ensure its survival — see details below.
Many people write to ask if the EMPStorm™ will protect their solar power generation System. While the home version of the EMPStorm™ might help to protect the inverter, it wouldn’t be adequate to fully protect the solar power generation system. The reason is that protecting a solar power generating system requires suppressing unwanted induced energy at multiple points in the system.
Consider the figure below:
There are several points in the system that have long wires attached. These wires act as antennas, picking up harmful energy. An effective protection strategy would be to connect an EMPStorm™ across the breaker feeding the home, and an DC-EMPStorm™ across the other subsystems (i.e., the charge controller, inverter, etc.).
The DC version of the EMPStorm™ is specifically designed to connect to three points in the solar generation system to suppress that energy. Typically, it would connect between the charge controller and the solar panels, between the charge controller and the battery, and between the battery and the inverter. Systems with very long runs out to the solar panels may benefit from a second EMPStorm™ connected at the panels.
The DC-EMPStorm™ is being developed in parallel with the conventional AC home versions and is expected to have a pre-order price of $300. The DC-EMPStorm™ is not available for pre-order yet but will be soon.
The very best way to ensure that you can get the DC-EMPStorm™ is to order one of the current AC versions for your home. This will put you on the mailing list to know when the DC version is available for pre-order.
Below you will find a 10-month development schedule that I’ve put together based on over 30 years of experience in designing and building electronics. Note that I have added 2 months of margin into the schedule (spaced throughout) to account for unexpected events.
Notice that the schedule below includes a 4-month production period to fill the pre-orders. My goal is to begin shipping pre-order units in the summer of 2019. By pre-ordering, you will receive regular updates throughout the development process, including videos of testing, discussions of design considerations, etc. I’ve overlaid a progress bar onto the schedule so that you are always up to date on the development.
Before you decide to pre-order one or more EMPStorms®, you might want to Google “Dr. Arthur Bradley EMP”. You’ll find quite a few videos, blog interviews, books, etc. in which I discuss EMP-related topics. I’ve been educating people on the subject for many years, as well as conducting practical research into being better prepared.
My resume shows that I have a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, am a licensed Professional Engineer, as well as a certified iNARTE EMC Engineer. Those credentials really just mean that I’ve been doing electrical engineering for quite a long time (about 30 years). As such, I have the experience and industry connections to successfully execute this project.
For many common questions, see the FAQs tab at the top of the page.