EMP stands for electromagnetic pulse. An EMP can instantly destroy electronic devices by short-circuiting them. An EMP attack can occur from a nuclear strike, without warning. So, what can you do to prepare for this type of attack? Will a portable generator work after an EMP? These generators actually can still function after an EMP attack, if you’re well prepared and know how to properly shield it from damage.
Will a portable generator work after an EMP? Some can and some can’t. If your model of inverter generator has an electronic control panel, unless protected in advance, it will not. If the generator’s control panel is just an indicator panel, meaning it’s not connected to the internal components of the generator and doesn’t control certain motor functions, then it will work fine. If you want to protect your generator against an EMP attack, make sure you wrap it in several layers of heavy-duty foil. Additionally, if your generator has solar panels, the panels should be removed and wrapped in plastic. If you’re not sure whether or not the electronic control panel is connected to the internal components of the generator, contact the manufacturer.
Now that you know that some types of inverter generators can be rendered useless in the event of an EMP strike, continue reading to learn how solar storms affect generator usage, how EMP strikes can affect conventional generators, and what you can do to protect your generators against this type of massive power outage.
When Disaster Strikes
Here, we’ll not only cover information regarding how an EMP strike can affect your electronics and life as you know it we’ll also include solar storms and how, like EMP strikes, a large solar storm can wipe out power and communications, all over the country.
Fortunately, with a little preparation on your part, you and your family can rely on both solar panels and inverter generators when disaster strikes.
Read on to learn how to protect yourself and your home against both of these disasters.
Protecting Your Inverter Generator from an EMP Attack
If you keep parts of an inverter generator shielded correctly, it is totally possible to protect it against the effects of an EMP attack. This will allow you and your family to remain self-sufficient in the event of a widespread power outage.
But, what exactly is a nuclear EMP? This form of attack stems from a surge of gamma rays that are used to create Compton electrons, which are a form of free electrons. Traveling at the speed of light, this form of free electrons is able to strike without any warning. A regular inverter generator should hold up well against this type of attack since it doesn’t require electricity to run. However, if you have a model that’s equipped with solar panels, you will need to properly shield the panels in order to keep the generator fully functional.
Inverter Generators with Solar Panels
If you have solar panels on your portable generator, they must be encased in a type of cover that will redirect electricity because an electromagnetic pulse travels through the air. This type of protection is similar in some ways to the way a lightning rod works to redirect lightning from the roof and onto the ground in order to prevent damage to a home.
Encasing the solar panels in several layers of plastic wrap can work to effectively disperse a charge and can ensure the most protection against an EMP attack.
The Truth About Portable Generators and Functionality in the Event of an EMP Strike
Basically, most portable generators should remain in great shape, even in the event of a solar storm or nuclear EMP, just as long as there are no external wires connected. This means you should not keep any electronics or extension cords plugged into your inverter generator unless you’re actually using the generator. If you do normally leave electronics or extension cords plugged into your generator, around the clock, you’re essentially connecting an EMP antenna to your generator.
If you have an inverter that comes with electronic features, make sure you keep spare parts for these components and keep these spare parts stored in a shielded container made out of thick plastic.
Newer models of inverter generators have electronic control panels, which means there’s really no surefire way to determine if a specific model with an electronic control panel will still be fully functional after an EMP strike. For some models, these control panels are basically just indicators panels, which means the generator will still run exactly the way it did before an EMP strike. If there are any semiconductor, unshielded electronics that are controlling the run and start circuit, then the generator may not run. You may need to contact the generator’s manufacturer in order to determine whether or not this is the case with your model of generator.
If you own an inverter generator that has an electronic control panel you should keep your generator inside a box that’s been wrapped with several layers of thick aluminum foil. This will protect the generator against an EMP attack.
Conventional Generators and EMP Attacks
For conventional generator safety in the event of an EMP strike, at the generator’s input, you should have a voltage transient suppressor on the transfer switch. You can have an electrician install a lightning protector on the input to the generator’s transfer switch if you’re not able to afford a transient suppressor that’s powerful enough to combat an EMP strike.
Voltage transient protectors that are designed for nuclear EMP attacks will only block the EMP coming in via the powerline, however, this is considered the most crucial part of the pulse. A voltage spike that comes from main power lines from an EMP strike can potentially run at a million volts or more. Additionally, if you live in an area that’s prone to lightning, then a lightning-induced power line spike will most likely destroy electronics that are not generator protected. While a conventional generator usually has decent transient protection built right in, it’s usually not even considered adequate.
The Cost of Transient Suppressors
Unfortunately, a top of the line transient protector can run around one thousand dollars. These models are produced by a company called Transtector. While they do indeed offer top of the line transient protectors, you can also find a decent model from SOLA, which sells their transient suppressors for about half the price. However, both types of transient suppressors will need to be installed by a licensed electrician.
Solar Storms Vs EMP
A solar storm and a nuclear EMP are two totally different things. A solar storm will mostly affect electric power grids, possibly damaging larger transformers. The biggest danger in a residential area is a long-term loss of power. Essentially, using any type of inverter generator can provide a large amount of protection against solar storms, if you have enough fuel on hand to run it. But, in any type of natural disaster, you can naturally expect a shortage of fuel.
There is a possibility of AC from a power grid emitting distorted waves before a grid collapses, and that’s really the biggest source of damage to electrical powered devices during a solar storm. Small solar storms happen pretty frequently and tend to only affect the smaller electric grids.
How Solar Storms Can Impact Power
The sun is a ball of superheated gases that move within magnetic fields and powerful currents, the pressure of which can build into sunspots. These sunspots can explode causing a coronal mass ejection or solar flare. These solar storms with magnetic shock waves and radiation can cause major damage to power systems, magnetic fields, and electronics. The atmosphere helps to shield the earth from a significant amount of radiation.
However, these powerful solar storms can still do plenty of damage including:
- Shorting out satellites
- Damaging electronic devices
- Disrupting power grids causing widespread power outages
- Confuse electromagnetic gadgets
- Increase breakage and corrosion of fuel and gas pipelines
- Knock out communications
Unfortunately, our dependence on electronic devices tends to make us very vulnerable to these solar storms. However, by preparing for this type of natural disaster, you and your family will have enough self-sufficient power and supplies to last for a period of several weeks, while the rest of the country is struggling without any type of power source.
The Biggest Threat of a Solar Storm
Obviously, the biggest threat is a widespread power outage that can take several months to repair. Fortunately, you can prepare for this type of natural disaster by doing the following:
- Purchase several inverter generators
- Stock up on fuel
- Purchase solar panels for a backup energy supply
- Buy back up batteries for your computer
- Stockpile emergency supplies such as dried and canned goods
Use a Surge Protector
You can protect your electronics from a solar storm by using surge protectors throughout your home. Or you can use a whole house surge protector. This type of surge protector will connect to a breaker panel. It’s able to protect the entire home against power surges from lightning and solar storms. If you can’t afford a whole house surge protector, then smaller surge protectors can provide a moderate level of protection. Another great way to protect your electronic devices is to simply leave them unplugged when not in use, especially your computers and tablets.
Obviously, we have not experienced the big solar storm, the one that has the potential to knock out power and communications all over the country. Some researchers believe that it’s still coming, which is why preparing for this type of disaster now is so important.
Can I Rely On an Inverter Generator in the Event of a Power Outage?
Why use a generator for camping? Because it can provide power when other power sources fail. The Westinghouse iGen2200 Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator packs some serious power and can run one large appliance and a couple of smaller electronic devices. However, even the best camp generator cannot provide power for an entire house. Conventional generators are usually tasked with those types of major jobs. But, if you can’t afford a conventional generator, then two or three inverter generators, models that feature a decent runtime, will be the perfect option for power in an emergency.
Will RV Solar Panels Still Work After an EMP Attack?
No. If you’re concerned about EMP attacks, then remove the solar panels from your RV during the off-season and store them in a safe, dry place, wrapped in several layers of thick plastic. Because there is no warning when an EMP attack will occur and the attack can take place at the speed of light, you will need to prepare for an attack ahead of time. For this reason, people often purchase an extra solar panel kit, such as the WindyNation Solar Panel Kit: 4pcs 100W Solar Panels. A solar panel kit of this size should provide more than enough power in the event of an EMP strike or other power outage emergency.
To learn more about RV solar panel kits, click here to read our buyer’s guide.
Can Solar Panels and Generators Survive the Big Solar Storm?
Just like with an EMP attack, the inverter generator and solar panels must be properly protected, well in advance, otherwise, they will not work. However, the inverter generators will still work if they don’t have an electronic control panel that runs certain engine processes. To protect solar panels, wrap each panel individually in thick plastic. Inverter generators should be carefully wrapped in several layers of heavy-duty foil. At this time, you may also want to stock up on fuel for the generator. Just keep in mind that fuel can expire and may need to be replaced periodically.
Will a portable generator work after an EMP? Most will. However, if your inverter generator has an electronic control panel, it may fail you if it’s not wrapped in several layers of foil. Models of inverter generators that have electronic indicator panels will still run perfectly after an EMP attack, providing you and your family with the power needed in the event of a widespread disaster.