Love the internet? Don’t let your equipment get zapped by lightning as the summer storm season gets underway. Instead, consider investing in Astrophobe, the automatic system for isolating ADSL and telephone lines when the weather starts playing up.
Astrophobe inventor Jorgen Nielsen points out that lightning strikes are an inevitable accompaniment to the South African summer, and even more so on the Highveld. “Just how bad is the problem? National Geographic has described Johannesburg as ‘the lightning capital of the world’; most people living on the Highveld and indeed almost anywhere in the country can confirm its prevalence, so the chances of your phone or ADSL line being subject to a massive surge in electricity sooner or later is almost a certainty,” he says.
In December 2013, National Geographic wrote online about the reality of lightning in this country. ‘South Africa has about 500 deaths and thousands of injuries from lightning strikes each year. The country has a population of 50 million, while the U.S.A.—with 313 million people—has had only 23 deaths from lightning so far this year’, the respected publication noted.
While phone and ADSL lines, and the delicate equipment attached to them, are nowhere near as serious a problem as people being struck by lightning, Nielsen notes that it is annoying and costly when a router gets a jolt. “Most people living in high lightning areas know exactly what this means; a thunderstorm blows in, you forget to unplug the computer, the router and the phone lines, and before you know it, you’re off to the local computer store to spend R500 to R1000 or more on a new device.”
It isn’t uncommon for some people to experience multiple equipment failures during the summer months – and Nielsen points out that computers, printers, storage devices and more are often connected to the router. “A single strike can take all of these devices out. Even if they are insured, there is the excess to defray; moreover, the information they contain cannot be replaced,” he notes. “Too often people do not have adequate backups in place, and a single nearby lightning strike can destroy years of irreplaceable accumulated information stored on computer and storage devices.”
The South African Weather Service confirms why sensitive computer equipment is a common victim of lightning: ‘The resultant electric current from a single lightning bolt can provide enough energy to light a city of 200 000 people for one minute,’ it says. That’s more than enough to take down a router.
Nielsen invented the Astraphobe precisely because he was fed up with replacing zapped routers and computer equipment in his own home. “If you’re out or asleep and a storm blows in, you didn’t stand a chance – in February 2012 a storm destroyed my modem, computer, 3 ethernet switches, a 3 terabyte storage device, PS3, DSTV decoder and my TV.” he says.
No longer a problem with the Astraphobe. The clever device automatically detects bad weather within a 40km radius and disconnects the ADSL and telephone lines, meaning equipment is protected whether you’re home or not. And when the sun comes out, the Astraphobe reconnects the line.
“If you’ve had enough of the expense and inconvenience of lightning taking out your internet, there is a solution. It’s called the Astraphobe, and it is proven to stop lightning before it gets to your router,” Nielsen concludes.