User Beware! (EMP Effects on Electronics)

emp effects on electronics

In the event of  a disaster, it is important to be aware of the EMP effects on electronics. Fires rage in California. The San Francisco Bay Area just saw a heat wave the likes most people in the have never seen. Hurricane Harvey hit

emp weapon
1899441 / Pixabay

Houston with floods and waves the broke down barriers and displaced thousands.

Meanwhile, the east coast of the United States has seen winters so cold that many opt to work from home rather than venture out into snow with ill equipped vehicles. All this climate change makes it much easier to imagine a potential solar storm, knocking out the power grid of the entire US. Because we are at a point of uncertainty with our climate, we need to understand how EMP effects electronics.

What is EMP?

EMP is the acronym for Electromagnetic Pulse, which occurs in the event of a solar storm. Often, the sun will heat up suddenly and experience solar flares, which send out electromagnetic pulses. These pulses “zap” our electronic devices, interfering with connections and communications. When solar flares occur, the interference is temporary.

The total solar eclipse we recently had interfered with some devices, taking out communication for a short period of time. Internet connections go down, cell phones will not work, even basic power service can go down. 

The power of the sun is much greater than we typically think of. When we think of the sun, we usually think of the beach, the lake, and summer. If we think of damage from the sun, we often think of sunburns and dehydration. We don’t think of apocalypse. Lately, evidence says we should.

Solar Power

The discussion of renewables is a prevalent one in politics right now. Some politicians would like to see the revival of the coal industry. Many coal miners long to see the robust industry thriving again, putting them back to strong blue collar jobs. Most scientist agree, though, that as opposed to going “back” to coal, we should be moving “forward” to the sun.

Coal is a resource that will eventually run dry. The sun, at least for the next million years, will only burn brighter. Local governments now offer many home and business owners subsidies to convert their energy to solar power. The sun could power the entire world without batting an eye.

How Electronics Work

Electronics run on a power grid that is connected to a centralized energy source. If the electronic device is plugged into a wall outlet, any power failure will instantly take out the device. The electronics that can run on a charged battery may last a bit longer. Cell phones, tablets, flashlights, and power tools will continue to work until the battery runs out of charge. The problem is that there is a finite supply of batteries in the world.

If the communication grid is taken out, which it certainly would be in the event of a solar storm, phone lines and internet waves would be instantly short circuited, and the chances are good that communication would be down permanently. Think of the way a bug zapper fries a fly or mosquito. There’s no coming back from that.


One way to combat a solar storm is to have backup devices kept in a faraday cage. Protect your devices, ham radios, cell phones, tablets, in a cage of aluminum in the event of a solar storm, and you will maintain some power after EMP has zapped the grid.

It is also important to have a generator on hand. If the power goes out, gas will be your best friend. You can continue to run your electronics, stove, lights, water heater, on a generator for as long as you have gas.

Another solution, and possibly the most ironic, is to get off the grid entirely. Oddly enough, if you are sun friendly with your electronics, you won’t be a victim of the sun’s wrath if she sends a blast of EMP our way. You cannot have your grid zapped if you are not on the grid.

Convert all of the energy in your house to solar, install solar panels, and you will not have to worry about losing power in the event of a solar storm. The sun will still be there to provide you with power. 

Final Thoughts

In the end, you may be wondering: will an EMP effect electronics that are turned off? The answer is yes. If the power grid is taken out, you will not be able to connect to the grid. If the communication lines are down, you will not be able to use your cell phones. EMP zaps the grid in its entirety and affects anything that is powered on at the time of the attack. The best thing you can do is be prepared.


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