Lightning FAQ: Why does lightning/static electricity damage electronics?
Electronic chips have very delicate, microscopic circuitry that is easily damaged by even small sparks from static electricity. Most other appliances, like washers, refrigerators, lamps, etc. usually don't have a lot of electronic components, so static electricity usually won't harm them.
However, a direct or very close lightning strike can destroy ANY electric appliance, electronic or non-electronic, if the large lightning current flows through them. Lightning current can burn up wires inside appliances, motors, and household electrical circuits.
Due to the highly sensitive nature of electronics, a surge from a power line malfunction or a far-away lightning strike to a power line could be enough to cause permanent damage to electronic appliances, which is why using a surge protection device is recommended. Remember, however, that there is no guarantee that a surge protector will help in the event of a very close or direct strike.
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