Fiberglass trailer in a lightning storm - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-26-2017, 07:37 AM   #1
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Fiberglass trailer in a lightning storm

I thought you all might be interested in this article from Mike Sokol concerning lightning storms and a RV trailer. In this article he specifically mentions Fiberglass trailers.

Read and learn!

RV Electricity - Quick Tips #02 - Lightning Safety - RV Travel

You can also might want to read Mike's new monthly column on electricity and your RV. You might wish to subscribe.

http://rvtravel.com/electricity1/
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Old 11-26-2017, 08:08 AM   #2
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Thanks, an interesting read.
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Old 11-26-2017, 08:12 AM   #3
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We have been in some bad storms when in a popup, and yes, have headed to the vehicle to wait them out. And yes, fiberglass is no Faraday cage and we would still head to the car in a bad one. Dumb question though, has anyone found a substantiated report of someone dying from lightning in a fiberglass trailer? Houses really are not a Faraday cage design either and I don't recall anyone being struck in one with the windows closed recently or historically as well.

One must have very poor luck to be the one in a million to get killed indoors in anything, house or camper. I always fault to increasing my odds of nothing happening if I can help it in some way so in bad storms we get out to the car especially if we are in a field area with no other good lightning targets close by.
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Old 11-26-2017, 11:35 AM   #4
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Thanks for the good information.

I never thought a vehicle is a safe place in such a storm. Thought it was more hazardous due to the metal being conductive.

I'm glad you posted this
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Old 11-26-2017, 12:21 PM   #5
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"Expert"?

G_d, how I do hate it when someone touted as an "electrical ... expert" uses electrical terms incorrectly. Since most folks don't know diddly about electricity the "expert" can use sloppy terminology and get by with it. Most folks don't know the difference. But for those who do know it casts doubt on the rest of their so-called expertise.

For example, voltages do not "flow around" any thing. It's current that flows, not voltage. Electricity is often compared to water where the equivalent of voltage is pressure and current is, well, current. And current flow, in this case, has little to do with magnetics and everything to do with resistance. Metal, being a much better conductor (lower resistance/impedence) than air, will carry the current around the shell of a car or metal trailer rather than through the air inside. Just like the wires inside the walls or your house carry the current around the sides of the room and not through the air in the middle of it. And, yes, the six inch gap (filled by the rubber tires) between the metal wheels and ground is much less than the several feet of air between the top and bottom of the inside of the trailer, so is relatively insignificant.

Also, even though it sounds exotic, the Faraday Cage effect is relative insignificant as far as electrocuting people inside the trailer. A single lightning rod on top of the trailer with a heavy conductor to a good grounding rod driven into the ground beside the trailer would protect people inside just as well. A Faraday Cage protects against electromagnetic (radio wave) radiation. That's why the window in a microwave oven has a metal sheet punched full of holes behind it. That forms a Faraday shield that prevents microwave leakage but still allows you to look into the oven. With just a glass window the oven would radiate microwave energy into the room.

So even though the general advice given for protection from lightning is mostly correct, the technical basis given for that advice is far from "expert."
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Old 11-27-2017, 02:46 AM   #6
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Thank you, Wilyoung. You seem to have solid knowledge on the subject.

So, in your opinion, is it better to sit in the Fiberglass trailer or in a vehicle?
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Old 11-27-2017, 04:06 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Rzrbrn View Post
Thank you, Wilyoung. You seem to have solid knowledge on the subject.

So, in your opinion, is it better to sit in the Fiberglass trailer or in a vehicle?
Most folks consider the car a Faraday Cage, a grounded metal container. Charge is distributed on the outer surface cancelling the effects inside. I don't see that it matters how the charge gets there (conduction or radiation).

That said, I'll be in the car . Raz
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Old 11-27-2017, 06:38 AM   #8
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As mentioned in the article linked to in post 1 of this prior thread

Lightning and rv's....


on the subject (before it was removed), the shore power cord is most likely to be a problem if there is a nearby lightening strike. It is a good idea to disconnect the shore power cord and maybe water line when a storm approaches.

And if you are camped under trees then falling limbs would be a bigger concern to me than lightening, but of course if your camper is sitting on top of a hill and the highest thing around, an approaching storm means its time to seek different shelter because of the lightening threat.
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Old 11-27-2017, 06:56 AM   #9
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Lightning and rv's....



And if you are camped under trees then falling limbs would be a bigger concern to me than lightening, but of course if your camper is sitting on top of a hill and the highest thing around, an approaching storm means its time to seek different shelter because of the lightening threat.
I think folks underestimate the risk of camping under trees. They kill twice as many folks as lightning. Falling trees kill over 100 Americans yearly. Lightning kills half that. I am much more likely to die driving to my sylvan campground than dying in my campsite. Still, I always seek out tree shaded sites. Love trees and their shade. But, then I like thunderstorms too. Go figure! YMMV

Cheers, john

Pic of our rig risking death at any moment.
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Old 11-27-2017, 06:57 AM   #10
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I agree with Gordon; falling trees probably would pose a greater risk than lightening. Although I wouldn't want either to hit my camper...

I'll be disconnecting everything when we're exposed to our next storm. Thanks for the advice.


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Old 11-27-2017, 07:12 AM   #11
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One method I have employed is to completely enclose my trailer in Aluminum foil ( Heavy Duty because the thin stuff tears in a storm) then I drive 4 ground rods (3/4" x12 ft), one on each corner of the trailer ( equipotential ground) and bond the aluminum foil to the ground rods with 3/0 copper wire with a stainless steel core.
Each day I take a bucket of water mixed with conductive salts and dump it around each ground rod. By employing my method you basically turn your trailer into a giant microwave cabinet.
I am looking at putting a saturable core reactor on my trailer incoming power cord to help suck up transient / stray voltages

Then when a storm approaches and I get nervous & scared I then do what Raz suggested and sit in my vehicle or if I am sleeping I do absolutely nothing.
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Old 11-27-2017, 07:40 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Rzrbrn View Post
Thank you, Wilyoung. You seem to have solid knowledge on the subject.

So, in your opinion, is it better to sit in the Fiberglass trailer or in a vehicle?
Inside a metal car. A rag top or fiberglass (Corvette) won't help much. The steel shell conducts the current around you to ground because it has very much lower electrical resistance than air or the fiberglass shell of the trailer.
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Old 11-27-2017, 08:24 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
One method I have employed is to completely enclose my trailer in Aluminum foil ( Heavy Duty because the thin stuff tears in a storm) then I drive 4 ground rods (3/4" x12 ft), one on each corner of the trailer ( equipotential ground) and bond the aluminum foil to the ground rods with 3/0 copper wire with a stainless steel core.
Each day I take a bucket of water mixed with conductive salts and dump it around each ground rod. By employing my method you basically turn your trailer into a giant microwave cabinet.
I am looking at putting a saturable core reactor on my trailer incoming power cord to help suck up transient / stray voltages

Then when a storm approaches and I get nervous & scared I then do what Raz suggested and sit in my vehicle or if I am sleeping I do absolutely nothing.
Then the foil gives the added protection from being abducted by aliens or having them read your thoughts! unless you Have a Scamp with a reflextix lining which already does that job!
I usually practice your "sleep through it" approach.

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Old 11-27-2017, 10:57 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
One method I have employed is to completely enclose my trailer in Aluminum foil ( Heavy Duty because the thin stuff tears in a storm) then I drive 4 ground rods (3/4" x12 ft), one on each corner of the trailer ( equipotential ground) and bond the aluminum foil to the ground rods with 3/0 copper wire with a stainless steel core.
Each day I take a bucket of water mixed with conductive salts and dump it around each ground rod. By employing my method you basically turn your trailer into a giant microwave cabinet.
I am looking at putting a saturable core reactor on my trailer incoming power cord to help suck up transient / stray voltages

Then when a storm approaches and I get nervous & scared I then do what Raz suggested and sit in my vehicle or if I am sleeping I do absolutely nothing.
Steve, the question asked was which is safer to sit in during a lightning storm the tow or the trailer. I gave the technical reasons for why I would choose the tow. If you disagree I'd like to here your technical explaination for why you think I'm wrong. Otherwise I guess I'm not sure how your comments add to the discussion. I think lightening is pretty serious stuff.
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