DIY Faraday Cage Ideas

In the event of an EMP strike or solar flare, all of your electronic devices are vulnerable to destruction. Both cause a dramatic fluctuation in the magnetic field of the Earth that, in turn, causes voltage surges and damaging currents. These surges will irrevocably destroy any modern electrical components they come in contact with. By creating a Faraday cage, you can protect priority devices from this threat.

In 1836, English scientist Michael Faraday conducted an experiment on electrostatic charges that resulted in the creation of the container that bears his name. He was not the first to experiment with this concept; his work was based on research performed by Benjamin Franklin nearly one hundred years earlier, in 1755.

A Faraday cage is an enclosure made of conductive material that blocks both static and non-static electrical fields. This protects devices from a weapons EMP strike, a solar flare event, or a lightning strike.

Many websites have complex instructions on how to build a Faraday cage. For more information on building a custom Faraday cage, click here. There are also expensive Faraday bags and boxes that can be purchased. They are “guaranteed” to protect your items from an EMP strike, but collecting on that guarantee could be rather difficult, given the circumstances that would cause the necessity for that protection.

There are many less complicated ways that you can improvise an EMP-proof container of your own for a far less expensive price tag. Although these homemade Faraday cages are perhaps not as stylish and elegant as the retail units, they should be just as effective. The following items can be pressed into device protection duty:

• An aluminum garbage can with a lid
• A metal filing cabinet
• A metal tool box
• A gutted microwave oven
• Tin canisters or ammo cans

Insulate items by lining the container in a non-conductive material, like cardboard. You can also make cardboard sleeves for your devices. It is vital that none of your electronics directly contact the metal of the container. It is important to add that your make-shift Faraday cages should be grounded in order to disperse the energy.

What should you store in your Faraday cage? Anything that you don’t want to live without post-EMP and anything that you can charge in an alternate manner is a good candidate for residence within the container. Some items that you might want to prioritize for a place inside the cage are:

• Radios (shortwave or windup)
• DVD players
• Extra hard drives
• USB drives
• Batteries
• Flashlights
• Laptop and charger
• Solar device chargers
• iPods
• Walkie talkies
• Invertors and charge controllers for solar power system
• Small pieces of medical equipment

Some preppers question the necessity of a Faraday cage. They wonder, why protect items that must be plugged in if the entire electrical grid is down?

First of all, if the grid does come back up at some point, a person with devices that have been protected will be in the vast minority of people to possess a working unit. If the device has been unprotected, even with the return of electrical power at the flick of a switch, the item cannot be repaired and used in the future.

Secondly, if you have planned other sources of power (such as solar or wind power) then the items that you have protected can be used with those power sources. If this is the case, also be certain to protect the proper inverters or solar chargers to be used with the stored devices.

Do you have any devices stored away to be protected against the possibility of an EMP strike or solar flare? If so, how did you make your Faraday cage and what are you storing in it?

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Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But if you follow this book’s plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months or even years. Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published May 9th, 2012
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  • FlyOver

    I thought the whole point of the cage was to have it ungrounded so that the skin effect dissipates the charge and also so that induced ground currents cannot come back into your cage…

  • ???

    An aliminum can will not save anything.

     

  • Jeff

    Flyover,you ground the can (or ?) to “absorb” the electrical energy. The energy passes thru the container therefore you do not want any contact with the sides or bottom……regarding solar and wind systems…wouldn’t a solar flare or other major elect eruption damage the solar panels or wind generator ?

  • Fred

    Use a steel garbage can and put another plastic garbage can inside complete with lid.

  • kevin

    to ???… yes, aluminum is an excellent electrical conductor

  • Thomas

    I imagine a steel 55gl drum lined with something non-conductive and a lid would work as well then?

  • http://N/A John Q, Parvenu

    Hello, Don’t buy into the EMP silliness; it is just another bogeyman invented by the Pentagon as part of its ongoing campaign to bring on Cold War II with the Chinese and, as such, is a waste of time and thought.
    An EMP of sufficient magnitude to damage electronic devices can be generated solely by a nuclear airburst, and will only be effective within a small radius, say 30 miles from the blast’s epicenter. A copper Faraday shield, though effective against low level RF energy, will be of no use  whatsoever against such a “brute force” pulse. And FWIW, a garbage can, being made of steel, will have zero shielding effect as it is electrically transparent above 1000 Hz.
    Should an nuclear detonation occur, a malfunctioning computer etc. will surely be the least of your worries. 
    Cheers, JQP
     

  • Joe

    One very important thing not covered in detail…grounding. If you don’t have a very good ground, then the entire idea WILL NOT WORK. Ask any ham radio operator or look it up yourself.

  • chuck

    the theory regarding the need to ground a faraday cage swings both ways. Grounding one will simply invite the pulse further or so I have read. the larger problem is that we dont have current testing that would give us the “real” answer. Solar flares are very real and devastating ones have hit our planet before, I believe in 1859 was the last huge one although the one in canada a few years back is still suspect as to causation. Point is they do happen and will happen again. To think that nature only strikes once is pretty naive. Science has already shown us that our planets ability to fend off electrical pulses such as the ones the sun produces has reduced with all that us humans and nature itself have done to our planets protective shielding (ozone layer) Not a doomsayer but prepper? yes. In the end I suggest to do your homework but you will need to come to your own conclusions. I hate the idea that I will have to tell one of my friends I told you so!

  • http://google Hugh

    A metal garbage can is a good idea but lining with a smaller plastic container will only work if the plastic will not transfer static or other electrical charges. Many plastics will.

  • William Wilson

    Why not completely line a metal container with cork? Cork will not attract static electricity and is non-conductive. 

  • Sunny Boy

    Do not confuse solar flares with CMEs.  The 1989 event in Canada was caused by a CME – not flares.

    A CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) contains some solar magnetic field which interacts with the Earth’s magnetosphere and can induce powerful current in power transmission lines.  These fields are large scale and have negligible effects on wires shorter than a km. 

    A flare is a magnetic explosion on the Sun – caused by recombination of magnetic fields.  This can release a huge amount of X-ray energy (which is effectively blocked by Earth’s atmosphere) and a lot of high energy particles (mainly electrons and protons) – which are deflected by the Magnetosphere. 

    Even in the case of a super-duper flare, the effects at ground level will be hard to detect – and certainly not worth worrying about.  

    It’s much more likely you’ll damage your electronics than the Sun will.

  • inSANEmom

    Here’s the problem with this information… and so many others that discuss EMP protection…. Start reading the comments and you get the “that won’t work… only this will work… you’re wrong… it isn’t a threat… blah blah blah.” I don’t have the understanding to know what is right and what is wrong. And when I try to research it, I get more of the same… one “expert” tells me one thing, another “expert” says that’s a bunch of hogwash and that we should be doing something else. It’s very frustrating and has resulted in me doing nothing to protect devices. I have one item that is “EMP Proof” that I really hope is… other than that, I guess I’m screwed.

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