Batteries and EMP? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Real silly I Know but still...I've been prepped for almost everything and any contigency I can (or you gang) could think of related to Y2K. My question is: Car Batteries and the Effects of a Nuclear-Detonation/Electro-Magnetic Pulse. Is there any way to protect the battery short of sealing it in a steel/lead case? If you disconnect a car battery, and an EMP comes, and you reconnect the battery, will the car start? Can a battery be protected?

I've poured over all my Nuke-prep books, but no one book has a simple answer. Any of you techno-savvy kids got an answer for me?

-- Billy Boy (, December 27, 1999


Use a satellite dish. It saved the Gorgonites. (grin)

-- GoldReal (, December 27, 1999.

It might, but I've heard that EMP would tend to screw up the electromagnetic polarity characteristics of the battery metals/acids if not to mention any supporting electronic items attached within the circuit.....not sure I'd want to be driving around in a freshly nuked environment anyway with the nuclear dust particles,etc.

-- TomR (, December 27, 1999.

EMP will NOT stop the chemical reaction inside the battery (electrons will STILL try to move from plate to plate through the acid).

Whether your car will start is a DIFFERENT question altogether. The BATTERY will still be producing, but there are LOT of points of vulnerability in the average car.


-- Chuck, a night driver (, December 27, 1999.

Tom: From my understanding, an EMP can be effected by airbusting a big nuke 100 miles up in the stratosphere. I really don't want to roll around in a nuke zone...I'm just worried, (and flame me if you must), that the Ivans might go squirrelly on the rollover. An EMP attack usually preceeds an all out strike, in order to disrupt commo and control. If the car is not a completed circuit (Ie I yank the battery) will the vehicle still be able to operate when I re-install the battery?

-- Billy Boy (, December 27, 1999.

Chances are that the circuitry in your vehicle (electronic ignition and/or computer) will not survive a strike induced EMP so your battery condition will be irrelevant unless you use it for other applications (and provided you survive any length of time). Do you really WANT to live through that ? Tough question.

-- Rob (, December 27, 1999.

From what I understand of EMP, any unshielded electronics are vulnerable. The only way to make sure your car or truck will still run is to have a spare of every electronic thing vital to the running of the car, protected by a faraday cage. It does not protect anything if the circuit is open. (IE battery out of vehicle) Every piece of metal or wire becomes an antenna and will transmit the pulse through the electronics.

-- Powder (, December 27, 1999.

From my limited understanding of the effects of EMP, the worry is not your battery but the electronic ignition system in your car. There was a thread some time ago on misc.survivalism about how to protect the ignition from EMP. The gain wasn't worth the pain for me.

However, I did pick up one interesting tidbit. If you suspect EMP damage and your car will not start, disconnect the battery cables and ground them to the frame. Wait one minute and try starting the car. The poster said that this worked in EMP simulations, whatever those are.

As a backup, I always keep a good pair of walking shoes in my trunk. Hope this helps.

-- Stars and Stripes (, December 27, 1999.

The car battery will work after an EMP but if you have an electronic ignition system... it likely will fail. Disconnecting the the battery cables is a good practice since cables act as a conductor for EMP but your car would likely be toast if it was built within the last 15 years...

One way to preserve your electronic equipment is to get a metal trash can and insulate it with a few layers of cardboard on the bottom and sides. Put your laptop and any other electronic (stuff with circuitry) inside. This will "help" but is a less than scientific approach....


-- Noswad (, December 27, 1999.

grounding both cables to the frame is not too bright. this generates a short that CAN either blow the battery or weld the cables to the frame and THEN blow the battery.


-- Chuck, a night driver (, December 27, 1999.

Thanks to everyone. To quote Diane "Sigh..." Time to break out the ole' LPCs (Leather Personnel Carriers)

-- Billy Boy (, December 27, 1999.

It's LPC time unless you have a really old vehicle that only uses points and condenser in the ignition... (Wish I'd never sold that POS '47 International pickup)

-- Powder (, December 27, 1999.

A question of my own, if I may...

Would this same question apply to alternators? (as no one has mentioned them yet.) Would alternator diodes be vulnerable to EMP? If so, then wouldn't any motor vehicle be vulnerable? Assuming this to be the case, what options might there be to prevent this, other than removing the alternator and putting it "in the can" as mentioned above? This has probably been addressed elsewhere in this forum, but I would certainly appreciate any clarification anyone could provide on this. Thanks.

A Long Time Lurker

-- Lurker (, December 27, 1999.

If you need to protect your batteries from EMP, then you dont need to protect your batteries. See what im sayin?

-- Jim Bob (, December 27, 1999.

I don't think your car will survive the nuclear blast, if you are close enough to be efected you will probably be blind.

Unless you get under your desk with your arms around your head, in which case you will survive...They taught us that when we were kids (in the late 50's and early 60's). Do you have your bomb shelter ready with all of the supplies you will need to live until the radiation is gone from the surfice of the earth (no wonder I've been "prepared" all of my adult life, with all of the nuclear propaganda I was raised with!)

Whats a few computers crashing or 6 month power outages when I was raised believing nuclear warheads might hit us at any moment? I mean, how excited would you be if you were me? We were conditioned to believe we would live in an underground fallout shelter surrounded by lead and never see the sun for the rest of our lifes.

If a bomb went off in the upper atmosphere and caused the electromatic flux you are concerned about, don't worry, the loss of the ozone will cause you to expire soon enough anyway. (That bomb shelter is looking better every minute).

-- Cherri (, December 27, 1999.

US Air Force EMP testing against vehicles back in the late seventies revealed that cars are pretty EMP safe devices. The engine electronics operate in the underhood environment where spark plug discharges release electric pulses at levels about the same as an EMP event a couple hundred miles up.

That said, a few things did fail due to EMP. Older points-style ignition systems along with caps and rotors using carbon contacts suffered carbon crystalization failures. Switching to "racing quality" parts which use solid brass points and contacts eliminated that problem. Accel, Echlin and Mr Gasket are some brand names that come to mind.

Surprisingly vehicles which had no EMP problems were the then-new solid-state ignition equipped ones. Most researchers felt that EMP would fry the transistors, until they checked the manufacturer's design figures for underhood electrical noise. Actually the metal sheilding of the automotive equipment against the car itself was good enough for EMP.

If there is a possible improvement for EMP resistance for vehicles, electrically grounding your vehicle to a really good earth ground point and disconnecting the battery should do the trick. A special purpose ground rod or metal water pipes running to the house from the local water system or well should provide adequate grounding.

Granted, the stereo might not work, because it lacks the shielding provided in the engine compartment. But what stations will be broadcasting after an EMP hit either?


-- Wildweasel (, December 27, 1999.

Billy Boy,

FWIW, IF your vehicle ignition won't start, then try taking your jumping cables, and put one set of ends on the battery, the other on the car frame. This will ground the car, and possibly disperse the charge well enough for you to start the engine. This is what that daffy militia radio show I catch sometimes says anyway. They said they aren't sure if that will work cause they of course haven't tested it yet. But they figure it makes sense, and is worth a try, so are passing it on to their men.

-- Hokie (, December 27, 1999.

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