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Personal Lightning Detector Purchase Guide

Lightning Detectors: Buy a lightning detector: hand held lightning detector, portable lightning detector, PC lightning detector, personal lightning detector.

Where to Buy

Although detectors vary in price and functionality, the methods of detection and accuracy are very similar. As a general rule, the more expensive the detector, the more features. We recommend the following portable and PC desktop lightning detectors:

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What is a Lightning Detector?

A lightning detector is a device that detects lightning produced by thunderstorms.

Personal lightning detectors are popular among golfers, campers, law enforcement, sports officials and other persons who work or recreate outdoors.

Personal lightning detectors function by detecting the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) emitted by a lightning strike. By measuring the strength of the detected EMP, the device can then estimate how far away the detected strike was. When exposed to multiple detected strikes, some personal lightning detectors can even calculate and extrapolate the direction of the storm's movement relative to its position (approaching, departing or stationary).

How does a Personal Lightning Detector Work?

Have you ever heard the crackling of a lightning strike on your AM radio? A lightning strike has a distinct waveform that can be processed and analyzed by detector hardware and software.

Through the application of electronics and software, personal lightning detectors identify and track storm activity within 40 to 75 miles of your location.

The antenna detects electromagnetic field emissions from lightning activity within a storm cell. It then converts this data into digital signals and feeds them to its microprocessor for analysis.

In addition to identifying the waveforms characteristic of storm activity, personal lightning detectors perform continuous analysis of background electromagnetic interference (EMI) at your location.

Personal Lightning Detector Limitations:

Although personal lightning detectors do function well in regards to their ability to detect nearby lightning, they are quite basic in functionality when compared to professional lightning detectors.

For example, they cannot tell where a lightning strike was located or from which direction the lightning is approaching, only that lightning is in the area. Also, since a personal lightning detector is triggered by EMPs, interference from other EMP-emitting devices (such as electronic equipment, appliances, nuclear weapons, fluorescent lights and even car engines) can sometimes result in either false alarms or missed strikes.

This interference often has the additional effect of preventing personal lightning detectors from functioning properly while indoors. Despite these limitations, personal lightning detectors continue to increase in popularity among individuals and professionals.

PC Based Lightning Detectors:

Similar to portable lighting detectors, PC lightning detectors connect directly to your PC and provide detailed strike data on your PC. An example and popular PC lightning detector is manufactured by Boltek.

By networking PC lightning detectors through the power of the internet, an accurate strike location can be determined through triangulation (a geometric process determing the exact coordinates from three or more sources). An example network is the StrikeStarô US Lightning Network, which anyone can join with a PC, personal lighting detector and software:

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Editor's Choice:

We recommend the
Strike Alert STRIKEALERT-HD LD-3000 HD Personal Lightning Detector.


The 360 degree detection (regardless of device orientation), color display, and storm histogram have elevated the HD model for those looking for reliable, modern, and informative detection.

The Strike Alert HD gained acceptance by several strategic organizations, including the California hotshot firefighters, and have been selected as the representative lightning detector in the upcoming edition of the Principles of Athletic Training that is published by McGraw-Hill.
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