It’s Electrifying

I live in sunny South Africa in a city called Johannesburg. Johannesburg is well known for a number of things, including some amazing thunderstorms.

When we first moved into our house about 17 years ago, we got hit by lightning and it took out every electrical appliance in the house. We brought in an expert at that point who installed lightning arrestors into our DB board and also put in a new earth spike closer to the house.

We had a few minor hits after that but nothing serious.

Lightning in Johannesburg
Pics found at

A few years later we had an incident again which involved some bunk beds in our kids room. We used to have a metal bunk bed for Son no 1 and 2 who used to share a room back then. They also had a desk with a PC and 2 naff little speakers plugged into the PC. Anyway – lightning always looks for the weakest point and of course the speakers were it. The speakers exploded.  Chunks flew all over the room. The electrical spike went from the speakers, to the PC, jumped to the metal bunk beds and then finally ground itself through the floor – taking a huge piece of concrete with it. Scary stuff – and I thank the Powers that be daily that my kids were not in the room at the time!

Needless to say – the metal bunk beds were disposed of immediately and we started using UPS’s on all PC’s and surge protector plug strips on anything and everything.

The only problem with all this is that every time it rains, our power trips. This is really irritating as it usually takes something out with it.

So we called in the experts again. The electrician we brought in had issues with all the surge protectors and UPS’s we were using. Apparently they all add resistance to the line, thus causing the power to trip as well. He recommended we remove most of them. Called in a lightning consultant again and new lightning arrestors were installed. Our DB board was also rewired, balanced etc etc. I am no expert when it comes to electricity or lightning arrestors so all I can do is implement what they advise.

Anyway – our power still trips every time we have a storm. We have just become accustomed to it and have accepted it. We have spent a fortune on lightning and surge protection and have now given up on calling more experts in.

We had another major thunderstorm on Friday evening. Power kept tripping every time there was a roar of thunder. We eventually just left the power off for about 3 hours until the storm had passed.

Woke up Saturday morning to a non functional house. When I say non functional, you have to understand that I live in a house full of boys and they are all IT geeks. So we have a home automation system which controls lights and integrates with our TV and media system. We have NAS drives holding our media, a full on CCTV system, 2 x 24 port switches. An automated driveway gate with an intercom system and stricter lock on our front door. We each have a PC and a laptop and any other gadget you can think of.

So of course on Saturday morning we can’t switch on any lights. I go into the hub room and of course the 2 switches have no lights. I do some basic unplugging and testing and declare them dead. This means our home automation system does not work. This means we can’t access our media. This means that we have no connectivity to the router which means that my home/office is non functional. We can’t even watch TV as it is all interconnected.

It then gets worse – we can’t get out our front door as the storm has taken out our stricter lock. The main gate is also non operational so we had to get an over-ride key and manually open / close the gate. And the intercom system is also non functional.

Before I can check any of the items actually plugged into my network – I need to get my network up and running. So I call son no 1 (who is a real IT geek and is the IT manager at the largest private broadcast studio in South Africa). He brings his spare switch over and we get a hack version of my network up and running. We then start testing and switching all electronic items back on.

My PC has no network connectivity. Hubby’s PC is the same. This means both motherboards have been compromised. So I pile them both into my car and head off to my favorite IT repair company for them the test. They agree that motherboards have been compromised. They are old and of course that means that they will require new motherboards, new power supplies and of course the RAM modules are not compatible etc etc.

To top it all up – Hubby’s laptop was stolen on Friday afternoon at the FNB stadium. Hubby is a consultant to the stadium and has a permanent office there. Someone stole his laptop from his locked office during the course of the day.

This now means that hubby is without a PC and a laptop.

So I spent Saturday afternoon shopping for a new laptop for him so at least he was able to work. It has taken me most of the week to reconfigure his laptop and download all new software – Office365 etc etc.

Finally collected his new PC today – all new insides so I can start setting that up again. They will now start working on my PC so it is a least a week before I am fully operational again.

Life used to be so easy!


11 thoughts on “It’s Electrifying

  1. I have heard that there are many risks that come with living in South Africa. I never knew The Wrath of God in lightening form was one of them. Wow. Also, you have electric locks AND electric locked gates? Do you live somewhere especially dangerous?

  2. Ugh! What an awful week you've had! I've heard that portions of Africa have the highest lightening strike incidents in the world. And you're in good company because I believe they said Florida is 2nd on the list. I hate the loud thunder storms–we lose all power when they happen, too. Now that I am totally addicted to my lap top, I go a little ( a lot!) crazy when I can't have my internet!!

  3. There is something about thunderstorms and losing power that I love. Weird I know. What sucks here is when we lose power during a blizzard. Happened a week ago. Power was off at night for about 7 hours. The temperature in the house dropped down to about 55 and was dropping fast. Not sure what would have happened if the power stayed off longer.

  4. Yes, we do have electric locks and gates and electric fencing. Not a particularly dangerous area but we have had a few incidents. We were held up at gun point about 4 years ago so we are a little over-protective now.

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