How to Protect Your Home from Solar Flares and Solar Storms

“Today’s Homeowner” host Danny Lipford, pictured with a generator and a gas can
Portable generators make life easier when you’re riding out a storm, but use them safely.

The sun’s magnetic and sunspot cycles were expected to peak in 2013, bringing a stormy season to our solar system and an increase in sun related damage here on Earth. While you don’t need to grab a tinfoil hat and head for the nearest bunker, it’s a good idea to take precautions to protect your home from possible damage caused by solar flares and solar storms.

Electrician checking electrical box voltage
Solar storms can cause damage to home electronics. (DepositPhotos)

Impact of Solar Storms

Our sun is a massive ball of superheated gases that swirl with incredible currents and magnetic fields. At times the pressure builds up into sunspots, which can explode out from the sun in events known as solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs).

These “solar storms” bombard the solar system – and Earth – with radiation and magnetic shock waves that can wreak havoc on magnetic fields, power systems, and electronics devices. The Earth’s atmosphere shields us from much of the radiation, but solar storms can still do quite a bit of damage, including:

  • Short out satellites and take down GPS, cell phone, Internet, and TV services.
  • Cause damage to electronic devices and computers.
  • Disrupt the power grid resulting in overloads, widespread power outages, and dangerous power surges.
  • Increase corrosion and breakage of gas and fuel pipelines.
  • Confuse compasses and electromagnetic gadgets.
  • Cause light displays (like the “northern lights”) in the sky.
  • Knock out communications, including radio, military communications, and early warning systems.

Solar events happen all the time, but 2013 is predicted to be a particularly bad year due to the peaking of several sun cycles. The last time this happened was in 1859 when the largest recorded solar storm spun compasses, disrupted telegraph service, and lit up the skies. Our dependency on electronics and an overloaded power grid makes us much more vulnerable to solar storms today.

“Today’s Homeowner” host Danny Lipford, pictured with a Generac standby generator
A standby generator will provide the homeowners peace of mind when severe weather strikes and brings power outages.

Preparing for Outages

The biggest threat of a solar super storm is a knockout of the power and communications grids that might take some time to repair. You can prepare for this the way you’d prepare for any kind of storm, by stocking up on:

  • Off the Grid Power: Buy a generator and extra fuel, or install a backup energy supply such as solar panels or a wind turbine.
  • Battery Backup for Computers: An Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) looks a lot like a standard surge protector but contains batteries that keep computers running smoothly without damage during power fluctuations and brownouts.
  • Emergency Supplies: Create an emergency box with flashlights, batteries, cooking and heating fuel, food, and clean water. Also, consider a backup stash with paper copies of financial and personal records, cash, road maps, address book, radio, first-aid kit, and anything else you’d need if your handy digital gizmos – along with your car, credit cards, bank, and shopping center – are out of commission for a while.

A surge protector will protect devices from power surges.

Preparing for Power Surges

Likewise, a powerful solar storm may cause major power surges that might fry anything in its path. Protect your electronics by using:

  • Whole House Surge Protector: A whole house surge protector connects to your breaker panel and provides protection from lightning and other power surges.
  • Individual Surge Protectors: For added protection, or in the absence of a whole house surge protector, install surge protectors on computers, TVs, stereos, and other electronics in your home.
  • Unplug Electronic Devices: Simply unplugging electronic devices will also ensure that they aren’t zapped by a power surge.

Radiation graphic
To protect emergency backup electronics such as a radio or laptop, put them (unplugged) inside a sealed cardboard box, then wrap the box completely with aluminum foil.

Shielding from Solar Radiation

The biggest threat of solar storms is on a systemic scale (such as taking out cell phone service) rather than an individual scale (like damaging individual cell phones). However, the magnitude of solar events is unpredictable, and we don’t always know the effects solar radiation will have.

If you’ve done any reading on the subject, you’ve found all levels of paranoia about shielding yourself and your home from radiation, with all manner of solutions. My favorite was to build your house with a radiation-shielding pool of water on top – who doesn’t love a rooftop swimming pool?

Short of such radical measures, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared, and one of the easiest ways to shield items from electromagnetic radiation is with an insulated, sealed metal box called a Faraday cage. It can be made of solid metal or wire mesh and needs to be completely enclosed, with an insulated liner so that nothing inside comes into contact with the metal.

To protect emergency backup electronics such as a radio or laptop, put them (unplugged) inside a sealed cardboard box, then wrap the box completely with aluminum foil. Another solution is to line the inside of a metal garbage can with cardboard. During peak radiation storms, it’s a simple matter to put your small electronics inside and close the lid.

If you’re really into radiation protection or are concerned about the health effects of solar storms, the same principles can be applied on a larger scale. People have gotten pretty creative with this principle by lining rooms (and even entire houses) with radiation-shielding metal mesh. And yes, some even try to shield their bodies with Faraday inspired suits and hats.

Keep up with the latest solar storm predictions at Today’s Space Weather on the NOAA website.

Further Information


    • Hi Nataleigh,

      As long as you make sure your children have water, blankets, and food, they should be okay! A solar storm won’t cause physical harm. It will just knock out all electricity, radios, technology, etc. I recommend keeping gasoline on hand, battery-powered chargers, car chargers, and non-perishable foods!

  1. Hey Nataleigh, I don’t know if you’re still freaking out about it but there’s nothing really to worry about. a solar flare wont harm us in any way. However, it might effect our technology (phones, computers, etc) the reason for this is because during a solar storm there’s a build up of magnetic energy that is released and fills the entire electromagnetic spectrum (from radio waves to gamma rays) and mobile phones and other technology is very sensitive to this stuff. For the most part our atmosphere (Thermosphere/Ionosphere) will shield the harmful rays like X-rays, gamma rays and micro waves. If it wasn’t for those our planet would be a big, dry and HOT uninhabitable planet.

    Long Story short: Everything will be fine. 🙂

  2. Will solar panels be affected by these sun storms? If not, I’d like to attach a few panels to a few large UPS battery backups to supply the “basics” in the event of a blackout. I live on top of Alpine mountain in the Poconos, PA. I think next to wind, solar panels are the way to go. A wind turbine involves the “Not in my backyard” mentality.

  3. well, I wouldn’t just not worry about it at all, in response to Tony B.

    In fact the big x-factor is the infamous December 21st 2012 when the our planet, the sun, and the center of our galaxy (theoretically a black hole according to any scientist I’ve heard of, as well as aboriginal peoples, who supposedly according to “modern” humans, should have less of an idea).

    This is unprecedented event in human history, only mentioned in ancient writings, and of course, we’ve heard, when the Mayan calendar actually began. So, according to astronomers and mathematicians, it has actually happened once. The Mayans labeled it their creation, (as well as other unmentioned cultures across the world and history).

    Anyway, my point is, there’s no way to know the extent of a definite solar storm that is upcoming as there is no recorded history of what happened the last time, but whatever happened it scared the shit of our ancestors enough to record it through verbal history until writing was developed thousands of years later.

    One theory is that because what the Mayan calendar actually, specifically notes is that said date is the end of a baktun, or the end of a cycle where the earth completes a “top-like” spin (as earth rotates like a top as well as on its axis). This meaning that for the first time in, I believe, 26 and some odd thousand years, the magnetic shield that protects us from the heavy gamma radiation from the sun may be susceptible to weakness, manipulation, or even complete dislocation of the earth’s magnetic poles, which are the anchors to said magnetosphere, which would mean incredible weather annomolies, as well as possible exposure to toxic gamma radiation. This would explain why most indigenous cultures say they went deep underground to survive according to their religious legends.

    So to just shoo away danger is fool-hearty. Best case scenario, ancient people are dumb, and we need to figure out how they really built the pyramids to extreme calculation that defeats even modern science and engineering. Worst case scenario, good luck, and may the Gods be with you.

  4. My main point in what I was saying was to calm people down lol, if too many people freak out about what could possibly be a small sunburn but end up making a ton of irrational decisions and destroy the economy even more. But you do make some valid theories but there also many theories that state otherwise… plus, if anyone remembers the year 2000 freakout and that was mainly just relating to the internet and such so I feel it’s smartest to leave everyone on the most possitive outcome possible which is “nothing will happen at all as far as we can tell unless you happen to deal with radio waves so keep calm and have a party 😀 “

  5. Correct me if I’m wrong but your water will be effected. With out power you can’t clean and purify the water, and you can’t pump it to the people. I know people scoff when they hear conspiracy theory and jesse ventura, but this show really does inform you, they speak to NASA (who does believe a solar flare will take out our energy grid), and other professional’s. listen to it or not the choice is up to you, but I’d rather be prepared and not need it than not be prepared and need it.

  6. The big problem here is that the ground itself becomes electrified as the earth’s magnetic field gets warped by the solar wind. Your ground wires will feed electricity back into your circuits and fry electronics. This could include solar panels, windmills, generators, and the like. Disconnected devices will have a better chance of surviving, but ESDs (Electrostatic Discharge events) can also be damaging…especially to sensitive electronics. The last time this happened was in 1859 before the days of the power grid. No power means, no sewage pumping, aka toilets, no fresh water, no gas pumping, no ATM, no A/C, no lights, etc. Some services may be restored quickly, others could take days, weeks, or months. It just depends upon the severity of the event.

  7. These are all Minor problems. Biggest is nuclear power plants running out of diesel power for cooling the rods and core. Will they truck diesel after 1 month with an army and national guard armada? Or is the electric and nuclear industry blind to this very real possibility?

  8. Don’t use Solar Panals tied to the grid. They are required to disengage for safety reasons. Build using an off grid method or switch. Your inverter may get burnt out if you don’t isolate. Plan on using DC not AC. The Stone Age may be here for a long time after.

  9. I amagine that my 2000 Toyota Tundra has an Eletronic ignition system that could be fried if CME’s are strong enough. Can an Auto’s critical electronics be shielded with Lead or other materials?

    If a modern Auto EI system were swapped for a Mageto ala 1960’s Hot Rods or even a backward compatible Point & Rotor distributor shouldn’t it be CME proof?

  10. I was looking at a safe to use for protection but was concerned that the electronic locking system/ combination would be effected and I would be lock out of it. If some bad solar flares came. Is this something to worry about or will it not be effected? I don’t want to be locked out of it. It’s powered off a 9v battery. Any info would be great

  11. I have some questions:
    1. Should I start wearing a tin foil hat?
    2. If I deliberately expose myself to the suns harmful rays, will I gain super powers?
    3. Can I cook food under a solar flare?
    4. Shouldn’t we create a society in Earths sewer systems to protect ourselves?
    5. If my cat is exposed to the radiation will he become a tiger?
    6. If the sun can have solar flares, can the moon? Should I stay awake all night in case there’s a lunar flare?
    7. Should I wrap my cat in tinfoil?

    • Hi Keith,
      The answer to all your questions is yes . . . except for the last one. I tried wrapping my cat in tinfoil and am still recovering from all the scratches!

  12. Keith, great questions! A few thoughts:

    1. Should I start wearing a tin foil hat?

    By all means, but it’ll work best if you make it in the shape of a Pilgrim hat, along with matching shoe buckles. I heard that pants can interfere with the signal, so you may want to leave those off.

    2. If I deliberately expose myself to the suns harmful rays, will I gain super powers?

    Yes! You’ll be known as Lobster Man, peeling justice far and wide.

    3. Can I cook food under a solar flare?

    No, but if you live in Texas, you can bake muffins on your dashboard.

    4. Shouldn’t we create a society in Earths sewer systems to protect ourselves?

    I believe that already exists – in fact, I think I went to a party there once in college.

    5. If my cat is exposed to the radiation will he become a tiger?

    I’d say a Liger is more likely, due to its skills in magic.

    6. If the sun can have solar flares, can the moon? Should I stay awake all night in case there’s a lunar flare?

    That’s a silly question. Everyone knows the moon is made of cheese. Your time would be better spent holding cubes of bread and waiting for “lunar fondue.”

    7. Should I wrap my cat in tinfoil?

    Please do, and when you get out of the hospital, please send me the video!

  13. On a more serious note, in response to other questions, I’m not sure about how a solar flare might affect solar panels. If I were you, I’d check with a solar energy professional – or check some of the online forums – for more information about your specific setup.

    Also, even though “smart” electronic technology is fun (like locks, etc), there’s always the risk of it going on the fritz for whatever reason. I tend to go for more old-fashioned choices (or at least have a backup option) that I know will be reliable for years to come.

  14. I guess I’m not the only one concerned it seems like there would be larger bedsize blanket/sheets made of aluminum at least .003 thickness for covering multiple items including Myself and My pets in case of extreme solar catastrophies such as a major meltdown I guess we all have to work with the foil and its a smaller size I’ think I’ll get some and foil tape too and then in the meantime cover the bird cages with aluminum foil from the grocery store:)

  15. I have a couple of dumb questions about solar flares.

    1. Do they just ‘knock out’ communications/electronics? As in they all start working/come back online after the storm/flare has passed? Or are they actually rendered permanently useless after the event.

    2. Would devices that are switched off at the time survive? Or would they have to be stored in solar flare proof containers.

  16. I am sorry, but this article is misleading somehow. As long, as there is no pole shift taking place at the same time, living organisms won’t be affected by a huge solar flare hitting the earth. That’s the good news. The bad news is that faraday cages will not protect your technology from solar flares. The reason is that solar flares will change earth magnetic field. Changing magnetic fields will induce electric currents in circuits and foremost in coils. But it is almost impossible to shield against magnetic fields and therefore these currents will be induced, no matter what you are doing. This is completely different to electromagnetic radiation which can easily be shielded unless it is gamma radiation. There is only one way to protect electric circuits. You can shield them with a very special metal alloy. Iron, copper or even lead WILL NOT DO THE JOB. You have to use mu-metal which is really pretty expensive. But it will help. They also use it to shield rooms against spying bugs. Older harddisks or speakers also contain a yellow looking metal to shield magnetic fields from the surroundings. If you are on a budget, you can collect this metal from trash to build a patchwork shield against magnetic threads from solar storms. And beware of massive solar storms anytime. 2013 was the year with the highest probability but it could happen anytime.

  17. I believe if I understand correctly a metal garbage can will protect your smaller electronics. Well Then I would assume a house with a metal roof or better yet a steel building would protect everything in it from Solar Flares or even EMP? Would this work?

  18. I think a lot of you are not really grasping what this could mean. Vehicles wouldn’t run, batteries would pop, alternators would fry, the wireing in all cars could catch on fire. All methods of transport would be stopped. Massive food shortages/starvation. Rioting and looting on a massive scale. The wires in every building across the world could catch on fire burning every city/ home to the ground with no fire trucks or fire water pumps to even help put out the flames. Oh and those nuclear power stations that someone mentioned. Forget the diesel pumps, all the control circuits will be in flames and most likely they will all explode.

    Then there is the effect to the earth magnetic field that could create massive tidal waves, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.

    A massive enough solar storm (which WILL happen, its just a matter of time and probability. Current predictions put it at a 12% chance between 2012 and 2022 I think) would cause world wide chaos and destruction, effectively returning mankind to the hunter/gatherer stage. Its wouldn’t be a few days without power, it would be a meltdown of society that would kill hundreds of millions or billions of people.

    If you want to protect your family, forget about solar panels and a safe room wrapped in tin foil. Buys some horses and learn as much wood craft and survival skills as you can.

    I don’t say this to scare anyone but I want people to have their eye open. A minor event like what hit the east coast of Canada and the US is just that, minor. A major event would effect the entire world. What I describe above would be the effects of a major event larger even than occurred in the 1800s.

  19. I have a gastric pacer that runs on a battery in me. I also am a diabetic and wear a insulin pump that runs on a aaa battery. Will they be affected by the solar storm. If so how do I protect from being affected by it? Do I wrap my body with the aluminum foil? What would work?

  20. Wouldn’t just turning off your computer and taking out the battery be fine instead of making a Faraday box, or taking the car battery out of your car?

  21. I just wrapped my emergency radio and batteries w/ heavy gauge food tin foil brought f/ supermarket. I put them in a safe place where burglars will unlikely look for.

  22. I am a Biologist, not an Electrician, but I dabble in the field.

    Solar panels tied to the grid can be used after a solar storm if you have a way to switch them off the grid when you are warned of a CME event. This can be done w/o informing the utility company or the solar panel lease entitiy. Simply do not connect back to the grid until you are told you can. No need to fry someone when the system goes back online.

    Although the installed exterior invertor/electronics would be worthless after the CME, you could wire-in a smaller version post-event that you previously protected underground or simply use the solar panels DC output as is. Unless the cells themselves are disrupted, it would not be useless. Disagree? Some people indicate that everything will catch on fire, house wiring, solar panels included. What scientific evidence is there of this?

    As for your other electric/electronic machines, etc, I believe having a basement partially covered by concrete is an excellant choice for protection. Yes, I know we do not all have one. However, there are apartments partially or completely underground.

  23. After reading some of these comments, if a “real” x class cme occurs, there is going to be a whole lot of unhappy campers, who had thought they knew what they were doing. That is a big gamble to take, simply for the lack of knowledge.
    If you are interested in preparing and knowing you have prepared, you had better look into a Faraday cage and do it right or it won’t work. The entire event, would be a domino affect of disasters for all of mankind and very quickly for those who didn’t prepare. There is not enough room here to properly discuss a cme or emp, except to say, most people would be gone very soon after.
    I took a 20′ cargo container, welded it sealed, installed a emp ventilator, put it inside a large garage, lined the inside with plywood, installed a manufactured faraday door, inside the standard cargo doors, grounded the unit correctly, now it makes a great large Faraday cage. I did that one years ago, now I’m needing another to put a pair of Kawa KLR bikes in, along with the increasing amount of other items I want to protect, like spare parts for your vehicles, home backup generators, the list is long and much more involved that most of these stories indicate.
    If you’re reading this, then look into the details on your own. I wasn’t a Boy Scout when I was young, just to forget our motto.

  24. Jerry A is completely wrong, the campers will be fine, it’s those in domestic settings that will be unhappy. Silly Jerry A.

  25. I recently painted my entire apartment with RF and EMF protection paint ,added 2 solar powered generator with 10 panels each, my sheets, towels ,clothing from ball cap to socks are emf and rf protected plus all electronic equipment in the apartment all my m95 masks are wave protected my curtains block 99.9 ……also have shungite blocks all around my rose bushes, veg ,and fruits….also repels CHEM TRAILS!

  26. Great article, it always amazes me how many people don’t even know about solar flares or even take them seriously. Appreciate the info!

    Ted S.

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  27. As Jerry A. pointed out above, people don’t quite seem to understand the effect that such an event would have. If you want to understand, google how wireless charging works. An electromagnetic storm is like an extremely powerful wireless charger and it would induce an electric current in every piece of electrical equipment that has a closed circuit. If you put too much current into a wire, it will overheat, melt and risk catching what it touches on fire. How effective different types of shielding will be will depend on the strength of the geomagnetic storm. Tin foil, EMP paint or whatever else would not be enough against an event like the Carrington Event.


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