How to Protect Electronics From EMP Threats
An electromagnetic pulse, also known as an EMP, is a sudden burst of radiation that can potentially damage the circuits, parts, and pieces of nearby electronic systems. EMPs can be caused by both natural and manmade sources, anywhere in the world, and are created with varying intensity and damage potential.
With the power to instantly dismantle computers and electronics, EMP attacks threaten both private citizens and communities that rely on electronics for transportation, medical facilities, financial systems, and more.
Thankfully, measures can be taken to protect vital electronics from EMP-related emergencies. In times of crisis, prepared individuals and institutions will be thankful to have already done the research necessary to invest in the best emp shield possible. In this quick guide, we will explore the reasoning and equipment behind some of the easiest and most advanced ways to protect electronics from EMP attacks.
Why do you need to protect electronics from an EMP?
If you would like to continue to use your everyday electronics such as cell phones, computers, and lights through an EMP attack, then protection is absolutely necessary. EMP attacks can both temporarily disable your devices or cause permanent damage.
While no two EMPs are exactly the same, damage to electronics typically happens in one of three ways: electrostatic interference, high magnetostatic gradients, and powerful electrical surges.
Electrostatic interference: If the EMP’s electrostatic gradient is high enough, then a local attack will likely dismantle or destroy the semiconductors in any nearby electronic system. Any device that “has a chip in it” may be subject to an EMP attack, which includes cell phones, appliances, computers, and most other modern electronics.
Magnetostatic effects: Magnetically, some EMPs are still a threat to electronics that have been protected in faraday bags rated against electrostatic interference. Special electromagnetic shields are used to protect electronics against any potential magnetostatic effects that may be able to penetrate single-function Faraday bags.
High-intensity surges: Perhaps the most threatening aspect of a large EMP would be the after-effects in its absence. Once local girds and electronics come back online after an EMP surge, overloads with high-intensity voltages and amperages can cause severe damage to completely knock out electrical systems.
Access to your electronics is critical during times of crisis, so EMP protection is very important for health, survival, and overall quality of life. Today, most communications and payments are made electronically, so any resemblance of normal life is going to require reliable access to electricity.
Critically, electronic shortages may also limit individual access to clean water, food, and sanitary resources. In terms of recovery, previously added protective measures can also help retain digital records such as cherished photos or important business and personal information.
How to Be Prepared for an EMP Attack
As high-intensity grid surges are the biggest threat during large EMP attacks, the first step of being prepared is unplugging all of the electronics that are in your home of which are not currently in use. If your devices are not connected to the grid in some way, then it is much less likely that they will become damaged from a high-intensity surge.
Of course, unplugged devices are still at risk during EMP threats, with potential damage from electrostatic and magnetostatic radiation. To combat this, at-risk electronics can be placed in protective encasings such as faraday bags and cages.
In order to prepare for extended periods of time without grid-tied power, many people get complete solar panel kits to access ongoing electricity. Solar panels connected to off-grid systems (such as solar generators) make it possible to continuously charge electronics during periods without access to grid power.
Can I test my EMP protection equipment?
Unfortunately, there are not many ways to safely “test” whether or not your EMP protection measures will be suitable against an attack. The best way to ensure that your equipment will protect your electronics in the event of an EMP threat is to simply verify the quality of the manufacturer and retailer.
We suggest fully vetting product suppliers before making your purchase to ensure that the equipment has been properly tested. Although it may go without saying, it is always recommended to purchase an emp shield device that is warrantied for guaranteed performance over many years of protection.
What systems remain safe during an EMP attack?
If you’re at home sizing up your electronics to find the right EMP bag to fit everything inside, then it is good to know about the systems that remain safe during an EMP attack that will not require protection. EMP surges do not affect motors, engines, and vintage electronics that do not use microchips to power their mechanical systems.
One very important thing to know is that modern solar panels are rarely affected by EMP attacks. If local grids are out of order after the radiation has cleared, solar panels attached to surviving batteries can be used to create new and usable electricity.
Essential Equipment for EMP Protection
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with what is at stake during an EMP threat, the next step is identifying and purchasing the necessary parts to help execute your plan. Depending on your budget and considerations, there is a wide range of equipment that will help you prepare for an EMP threat. Today, EMP protection for home electronics is generally available at one of three levels: in portable bags, permanent enclosures, and full home protection.
Faraday Bags, Boxes, and Cages
Faraday bags are one of the most popular ways to protect electronics against EMP damage for when SHTF. Also known as faraday boxes or faraday cages, faraday bags are usually made of some kind of flexible metallic material that is able to block out electrostatic radiation.
Available in all shapes and sizes, faraday bags may be nothing more than a large silver envelope. Of course, many high-quality faraday bags have the same stylish appearance as an ordinary duffle bag or backpack with the added protection against EMP threats.
EMP bags can be used anywhere and can be easily transported for ongoing protection in a vehicle, on a boat, or aboard a plane. If the size and shape permit it, Faraday bags can also be nested inside one another for added protection against high levels of radiation.
EMP Protected Rooms and Enclosures
While faraday bags are a great way to protect your electronics on the go, EMP-protected rooms are growing in popularity among those looking for more security against potential threats at home. Large Faraday cages, or Faraday rooms, are specially designed enclosures for storing and using electronics during an ongoing EMP attack.
Faraday rooms may be separate from your main living structure, or simply encompass one protected room of a house or building. Today, there are several EMP-protected tents on the market to establish a quick and safe shelter in a home or on the go.
Full Home Electronic Protection
Perhaps the best way to protect all of your electronics against unexpected surges is with an EMP shield professionally installed on your home’s breaker box. EMP shields allow you to automatically detach from grid-connected power and protect your electronics from potential pulsing damages.
With an EMP shield for home protection against attacks, battery and generator owners can seamlessly transfer to an off-grid system in order to continuously power their home's electronics and appliances. Although attacks can happen in a matter of seconds, a full home EMP shield may be able to save your home’s electrical components in the event of a lightning strike or artificial EMP threat.
So whether you have a big house on the hill or are currently touring the country in an RV, EMP protection can be critical to you and your home’s safety. If you are having trouble trying to identify the perfect faraday bag for your electronic protection for your devices, feel free to check out our Top 7 EMP Shield Options to explore products that may fit your circumstances.
Below, we will address some of the most frequently asked questions about protecting electronics from EMP attacks.
What electronics can survive an EMP?
While pretty much everything with a circuit board may be permanently damaged, solar panels are one of the few electronics that will survive an EMP attack without added protection. Besides this, there are a handful of vehicles that will still operate after serious EMP attacks, most of which were manufactured prior to 1980, when vehicles contained fewer electronic parts.
Importantly, all non-electric machines and tools are not threatened by EMPs. This includes hand tools, bicycles, and purely gas or alternative energy-powered systems.
Will aluminum foil protect electronics from EMP?
In a pinch, aluminum foil is actually a fairly effective material for protection against EMP attacks. While the “tin foil hat” image is a bit hard to shake, a roll of aluminum foil can be quite handy for transporting small electronics between locations in an EMP situation.
Does an EMP permanently destroy electronics?
Yes, EMP surges may have the potential to permanently destroy electronics if the damaging effects are powerful enough. While smaller frequency pulses may only temporarily dismantle nearby electrical systems, large EMP attacks can quickly shock and fry equipment past the point of no return.
How can an EMP attack be prevented?
Although you may not personally be able to prevent an EMP attack from occurring, there are many things that can be done in order to prepare your home and yourself against potential damages, inconveniences, and danger. We recommend this resource from the Cybersecurity and Infacsture Security Agency (CISA) which outlines a very comprehensive look at what can be done in preparation for an EMP attack.
Can an EMP blast kill you?
Thankfully, no, an EMP blast cannot directly kill a human being. While nearby and internal electronics such as pacemakers may become damaged and life-threatening, it is much more likely that human deaths would occur during an EMP threat as the result of damaged systems relating to healthcare, food, water, and other necessary resources.
The first step to becoming prepared is to perform proper research. So if you have made it this far in this article, then you are already well on your way to EMP protection. With the right equipment, it is possible to protect your electronics from EMP attacks and maintain continuous access to the life-saving devices that are critical to your safety and survival. For further reading, feel free to check out all of the emergency preparedness articles in our learning center.
Also consider to check EMP Shield Review.