Lights Out: Does an EMP Affect Batteries?

EMP stands for electromagnetic pulse.

It is a phenomenon characterized by a rapid discharge of electromagnetic energy. Electromagnetic pulses can occur naturally, or they can be man-made.

An EMP has the ability to disrupt, or even destroy any device connected to an electrical grid. A powerful enough EMP discharge can cause lasting damage on a large scale. Whole neighborhoods, cities, and even countries can be paralyzed by an EMP attack.

Our reliance on electricity is what makes EMP attacks so disruptive. We use electricity to power everything from agriculture equipment, to hospitals, water supply systems, and household devices. An unexpected EMP attack can render all these things useless.

Fortunately, with enough preparation, you can mitigate some of the damage caused by an EMP attack. For example, you might try using battery-powered devices instead of the ones connected to the electrical grid.

Does an EMP affect batteries? We are here to help you answer this question. In the rest of this article, we will explore what an EMP is and how it affects electronic equipment.

Moreover, we’ll examine whether battery-powered equipment is an effective counter against EMP.

What Is an EMP Blast?

There is a lot of misinformation surrounding EMP.

Part of the blame lies on the way it has been depicted in popular media. As a result, most people don’t know what an EMP is, how it affects electronic equipment, and what can be done to reduce its damaging effects.

In nature, an EMP is a wave of energy that manifests itself during lightning strikes and solar flare events. An EMP wave can also be induced artificially via a nuclear blast, or other specialized weapon systems. Finally, stellar events such as solar flares can produce world-wide EMP effects.

An EMP blast is typically not harmful to humans unless they are in close vicinity to the blast. Instead, the detrimental effects of EMP are confined to the electrical grid and the equipment connected to it. EMP blasts are therefore a major threat to human society.

How Does EMP Affect Electronics?

The effects of an EMP blast on electronic devices are dependent upon the intensity of the blast.

A minor EMP discharge can cause electrical interference in sensitive devices. For example, the ignition system found in cars can cause the car radio to crackle.

A stronger discharge can produce a visible spark, which can ignite flammable materials. Devices protected from EMP can still suffer damage in this way.

An intensive EMP blast can create electrical currents that can damage most electronic equipment. Magnetic devices such as computer hard drives are especially vulnerable to strong EMP blasts.

Finally, a large-scale EMP discharge can effect devices over a large area. Nuclear weapons are known to produce such discharges, as well as other specialized EMP weapons.

What Are the Consequences of an EMP Attack?

The US electrical grid is not adequately protected from EMP.

As a result, a large-scale EMP attack on US soil is guaranteed to cause widespread devastation. The attack itself would cause permanent damage to key infrastructure, including:

  • telecommunication networks (phone, radio, cable TV, internet)
  • financial institutions (banks, the stock market)
  • transportation systems (airports, cars, traffic equipment)
  • medical facilities (life support equipment, diagnostic devices)
  • grocery stores (refrigerators)
  • gas stations (pumps)

Besides causing lasting damage, a wide-scale EMP blast would also make repairs difficult or impossible. It would take more than 18 months to bring everything back online.

The probability of total societal collapse during this period is high. Only two groups have the necessary tools and knowledge to survive an EMP attack. One is the US Military, and the other is preppers.

Does an EMP Affect Batteries?

All devices connected to the electrical grid are at risk from an EMP attack.

But, what about battery-powered devices? Are batteries a viable power source in the event of an EMP attack?

The good news is that most batteries are resistant to the effects of EMP. This includes alkaline, lead-acid, lithium-ion, and nickel-metal hydride batteries. The only exception is built-in battery modules that are used in some devices.

The reason why batteries are largely unaffected by EMP is that they behave like a Faraday cage. A Faraday cage is simply an enclosure that can block electromagnetic fields. Such enclosures are typically made of sheet metal or other conductive materials.

The outer part of a battery is made of metal, isolating the interior from EMP damage. Furthermore, the interior of a battery has no circuitry that can be damaged by EMP.

Are All Batteries Equally Resistant to EMP?

As a general rule, all kinds of batteries can survive an EMP blast.

However, some have argued that certain types might fare better than others.

For instance, some people say that wet-cell batteries are more resistant to EMP than dry-cell ones. This can be explained by looking at their chemical composition.

Wet-cell batteries use lead-acid, so they are more stable by default. Their conductive material is more compact thanks to heavy plates keeping it in place.

Dry-cell batteries, on the other hand, use zinc powder, which tends to move around as time goes by. This is what causes them to fail more often.

The riskiest batteries to use are those found in portable devices. They are frequently attached to micro-controllers and electronic equipment, which is vulnerable to EMP.

What About Battery-Powered Devices?

Unlike batteries themselves, most battery-powered devices are at risk from EMP.

Such devices are not shielded from EMP properly. They also have sensitive electronic circuitry inside, which can easily be damaged.

The way to protect a battery-powered device from EMP is to encase it in a Faraday cage.

One way to do this is to envelop sensitive equipment in sheet metal. It may sound surprising, but even a cardboard box covered with aluminum foil can do the trick. More expensive solutions also exist.

Another way would be to store equipment in Faraday bags. They are portable and more convenient to use than similar products.

Put Your Mind at Ease With EMP-Resistant Batteries

EMP attacks pose a real threat to US safety.

They are not directly harmful to humans, but they can cause lasting damage to electrical infrastructure. Keeping your electronic equipment safe from EMP should, therefore, be high on your priority list.

Does an EMP affect batteries? The answer is a clear ‘no’.

Batteries are the exception to rule. Their construction makes them resistant to EMP by default. As a savvy prepper, you should always keep a stockpile of batteries at hand.

They will keep your equipment when all else fails. Feel free to get in touch with us in case you have further questions.

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