During one of the storms last week, a particularly close lightning strike took out our cheap, walmart-purchased inverter. With a resounding POP, it pushed its final electrons into a low-voltage alarm squeal that warbled for a moment, then dropped in pitch with a sickening death-rattle: PEEEEeeeewwwwwwww. And then, our off-grid internet connection went dark.
The deceased inverter had been responsible for powering our cable modem, wireless router, and power over ethernet adapters. With a groan, I pulled out my multimeter to inspect the damage, but it too, was dead. In my irrational and dejected state, I was briefly convinced that a lighting-induced EMP blast had destroyed all of our electronics. Thankfully, the multimeter just needed a new set of batteries.
After trudging up and down our muddy road in the middle of the night, in the pouring rain, my fears were confirmed: everything connected to the inverter was fried. With so few amenities on our homestead, the loss of one I'd just finished building was hard to take. I honestly don't remember the last time I felt so deflated. It's incredible, and a little scary, how fast we can assimilate conveniences into our lives.
A few days later, after talking over the incident with my electronics-wizard-friend Dan (thanks for the help, Dan!), we concluded what should have been obvious to me: both the camper and our generator need to be grounded. We're back up and running now. Fingers crossed lightning will prefer an 8 foot copper grounding rod over our sensitive electronics in the future!