The mere thought of the entire electrical grid going down, not just for a day or two, but a long period- months, perhaps years, is enough to keep any prepper or survivalist like me up at night. Things we take for granted, such as refrigeration, communication, and transportation- gone in a blink of an eye. Your only chance to save these items is with a Faraday cage.
In the first part of our EMP series, we discussed what electromagnetic pulse was and how to survive an EMP attack. We briefly touched on the topic of Faraday Cages. This next part is going to go into more detail of what it is, how to build one, why you need one, and what can be protected.
What is a Faraday cage or shield?
This is a cage-like chamber that distributes electrical charge or radiation outside of the cage. The contents of the cage are in an enclosed area or special container and shielded from electromagnetic radiation or electrical charges.
Who invented the Faraday cage?
This invention is named after its inventor, Michael Faraday. He was a 19th-century experimentalist, who built a large box of wire mesh in 1836. He then zapped it from the outside with electricity to test his experiment of using metal to distribute the charge outside the box.
What is it used for? Why do you need it?
There are many uses for the Faraday cage, but the common purpose is to protect or shield damage from electrical forces. Let’s face it, there are electrical charges and waves all around us. The use of the cage helps block outside interferences.
Here are additional uses of the cage:
- Designing and testing electronic devices
- In microwave ovens, it is used to keep the radiation from seeping out into your kitchen.
- Used in scientific labs to conduct experiments
Here are some reasons to consider building a Faraday cage:
- Preparing for an EMP attack
- To protect damage from a solar flare
- To block cell signals and prevent being tracked through your cell phone
- Prevent identity theft that happens through credit or debit card skimming.
What electrical equipment can be protected?
Faraday shields come in an array of sizes ranging from small to large. You can have multiple cages for home, your vehicle, and what you carry.
So what should you place in these cages? Here is a list of electrical equipment that needs protection:
- Communication devices, such as walkie-talkies, radios, cell phones.
- Hunting electronics
- Batteries- rechargeable and rechargeable power bank, solar-powered, USB batteries, spare
- Survival watch
- Electronic medical equipment
- Laptop, hard drives
- Power tools
- Electrical car parts
Simply put all equipment and electronics that connect to your electrical system can be protected.
How do you build one?
You can purchase them in different sizes, such as a bag or a tent, or you can build one yourself. There are many ways that you can build a Faraday chamber. Again you can make it as big or small that you would like, depending on the amount and size of items that you are placing in the cafe.
Here are supplies that you can use to build your cage:
These supplies are the basic supplies that you can use to build a cage. Most of the items are things you have around the house, therefore you won’t have to fork out a lot of cash to protect your electrical equipment.
- Cardboard, wood crate, or plywood
- Aluminum foil
- Copper mesh
- Aluminum tape
- Plastic bags or anti-static bags
- Galvanized steel trash can
Building your shield
- Gather supplies and what you want to protect
- Wrap each item in a non-conductive inner layer(box of pasta, plastic} and place in plastic bags
- Wrap in 3 layers of foil
- Line your steel trash can with cardboard or carpet padding
- Place items inside
Easy crate method
- Using a wooden crate, pop slats out on one side and wrap the crate with copper mesh or steel mesh.
- Make sure that the pieces overlap and attach the mesh to the crate with glue, staples, or aluminum tape. The parts that overlap should be secured tightly.
- Test the cage.
The room shield
Another option that you have is to turn a room or closet into a Faraday chamber. The materials you would need to do this are:
- Perforated laminated aluminum foil or use wood pecking tool to place holes on aluminum
- Copper mesh
- Aluminum tape
- Tape measure
Installing room shield
To prep for installation, make sure to turn off all breakers for outlets and lights in the room. Make sure that nothing is hanging on the walls or against the walls. Remove light fixtures, smoke detectors, and registers for heating, cooling, and ventilation.
- You need to cover the walls with 2 layers of the aluminum from ceiling to floor.
- Leave an overlap less than an inch between the two layers and cover with aluminum tape.
- Poke wall switches and telephone outlets through the foil. Keep electrical outlets covered.
- Replace all registers and cover ventilation slits or holes with copper mesh and aluminum tape.
- Place cardboard or plywood on the floor, so that the foil is not damaged.
- No electricity can be used in the room, because of the risk of electrical shock.
Here are key points to keep in mind when building your Faraday shield:
- The conductive layer can be thin
- It needs to have a conductive outer layer to absorb energy
- It can be any shape- box, cylinder, sphere, as long as it’s a closed shape.
- The inner layer can be conductive or non-conductive
- You should test your shield after you build it.
- It can be as simple or complicated as you want.
- The copper mesh works better as a conductor than steel mesh or fabric.
When it comes to an EMP, nothing is guaranteed. You don’t know how detrimental the damage will be and you can’t control the power of an EMP. What you can control is how you prepare for it. That means knowing survival skills, what tools and supplies you should have, and how to protect your items.