Lightning and Ethernet

Found an article I read a while ago and thought I would share it. Based on this I’ve been using medical grade Ethernet isolators (IEC 60601 compliant) for surge protection inside, not for better sound.

Important to note that the article is discussing developing research so I wouldn’t say anything is fully settled yet.

Part of why I’m paranoid is that I have almost all of my expensive gear in the house hard-wired to copper based Ethernet:

  • TV
  • HT Receiver
  • Roon end point
  • 2 PCs
  • BD Player

So if a surge travelled down the Ethernet into my gear it would do a lot of damage, even if that damage was relatively lite, like taking out the Ethernet ports.


Great article erik_squires. Thanks for posting. Having been a Radio Broadcast Engineer for many decades, I've really been dealt my fair share of forced education related to lightning damage, and lightning strikes. It has been an unbelievably (shocking) wild ride. I have typically been employed at radio station clusters that had already been built that were experiencing lightning damage to equipment when I first walked in the door. IMO, maintaining lightning protection integrity in broadcast facilities is almost an art form. One of my co-located facilities' (studios/offices co-located with transmitter site) towers would be struck at least 12 times a year, and many times *more* than that (I had an AM transmitter at that site that would visually notify of a lightning strike, which made it easy to count strikes to the tower per year). Trying to gain control of a broadcast facility (with thousands of wires and interconnections) that is suffering from lightning strikes is not an easy task. I could talk your ear off on this stuff, but I'll make it simple. The plan that worked the best was overhauling the star-ground system at each facility I worked at. The most basic cure-all was making sure everything was at the same ground potential (all grounds were tied together). This also included bonding all water pipes, gas lines, building structure rebar, and outdoor satellite dish ground pedestals to the star ground system. If a good ground system (with at least 8-10 cadwelded together ground rods, tied to the star-ground system) was not already in place, one was installed. Every piece of copper communication cable that entered the building was also treated with some type of surge protection, tied to the star-ground system. Once I did all of that at the facility I'm referring to, everything settled down, and we never experienced another lightning strike equipment fatality at that facility as long as I worked there, but I always kept in mind whenever an electrical storm blew through, that lightning protection is rarely ever a cure-all, but more prevention. I never assumed we would never suffer another piece of equipment being blown up from a lightning strike, but I am proud to say that I really did get it under control at that facility, and others that I maintained. I use much of what I learned at the broadcast facilities when wiring my home audio, small home ethernet network and AC home wiring, even though I don't have a 410' lightning rod in my backyard.               

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Thank you for sharing the article. It's great to see that you are taking proactive measures to protect your expensive gear from potential damage caused by surges. Using medical-grade Ethernet isolators that comply with IEC 60601 standards is a smart choice.

These isolators act as a safeguard against surges that could travel through your Ethernet cables and potentially cause significant damage to your equipment. In addition to isolators, another device you might consider is an Ethernet media converter. This device allows you to extend the reach of your Ethernet connection over longer distances by converting the Ethernet signal to a different medium, such as fiber optic.

This can further enhance the protection and performance of your network infrastructure. While the article mentions ongoing research, it's always prudent to take precautions to safeguard your valuable equipment.