Can Lightning Damage My AC Unit?

July 02, 2024

Did you know that a lightning strike can deliver up to 10 gigawatts of power in a second? Needless to say, your air conditioning unit is not designed to handle that much power. Lightning damage to an AC unit can cause everything from a basic power surge and tripped circuit to a total system breakdown. This translates into expensive repairs or even having to replace the whole unit.

While there's no 100% effective way to prevent a lightning strike, there are ways to protect your unit from the damage a strike can cause. Here in southwest Florida, this is absolutely critical. So, in preparation for hurricane season, let's take a closer look at:

  • How lightning can damage your AC unit
  • How to protect your AC unit from lightning

Want to protect your AC during hurricane season? Contact Advanced Air.

At Advanced Air, our highly-trained HVAC technicians can help minimize any damage from a lightning strike with regular maintenance to your AC unit, alongside surge protection, anchoring, and a hard start kit. If your AC happens to get damaged during a storm, our fast and reliable AC repair service means you won’t have to wait long for your comfort to be restored.

How Lightning Can Damage Your AC Unit

Lightning strikes can melt electrical systems that get overwhelmed, including your air conditioner. Not all the damage happens due to direct strikes, either. Sometimes, lightning damage to an AC unit happens due to strikes to power lines or from power surges that affect your local electric supplier.

Direct Strikes

A direct lightning strike on your AC unit is rare but extremely damaging. The immense electrical energy from the lightning bolt can fry internal components, melt wiring, and even cause the unit to catch fire. The sudden surge of electricity can turn your air conditioner into an expensive statue in a split second.

Indirect Effects

Even if lightning doesn't strike your AC unit directly, it can still cause damage. If lightning strikes a utility line, that spike in power can travel right to your home and connected systems, frying a lot more than just your air conditioner.

Power Surges

Power surges, whether from lightning or electrical grid fluctuations, can harm your AC unit's components. Surges can cause immediate failures in electronic parts like capacitors and circuit boards. Over time, repeated power surges can degrade the AC's overall performance and lifespan. While your circuit breaker catches most of the damage from a power surge, it can't protect against everything.

Protecting Your AC Unit from Lightning

Protect your AC unit from lightning damage to save on costly repairs during storms.

Whole-Home Surge Protectors

Installing a whole-home surge protector is one of the most effective ways to safeguard your AC unit and other household electronics from lightning damage. While they won't shield against a direct strike, these devices can intercept electrical spikes before they reach your home.

Proper Grounding

Ensuring that your AC unit and electrical system are properly grounded is a first step toward keeping your unit safe from electrical damage from any source. Grounding provides a safe path for electrical currents, directing them away from sensitive equipment. Have your grounding systems inspected regularly to make sure they're in good condition and able to handle unexpected surges. You might also consider installing lightning rods to keep direct strikes away from sensitive electronics.

Regular Maintenance

Routine maintenance plays a vital role in protecting your AC unit from lightning damage. Schedule annual inspections with a qualified HVAC technician to check for any signs of wear, corrosion, or electrical issues in your AC system. Electrical systems in your AC unit have their own insulation to protect against power surges. During maintenance, inspections should catch any wear and tear to the insulation and keep your system better defended against power surges.

Get your AC ready for hurricane season.

Hurricane season brings heavy storms and lightning, which can seriously damage unprotected AC units. Schedule a maintenance check today to ensure your cooling system is fully protected with surge protectors and proper grounding. Be proactive and keep your cool when the weather heats up—contact Advanced Air now for a comprehensive AC tune-up today!

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