Update On Tesla Model S Lightning Strike – (w/new video)


"Lightning hits my Tesla"

“Lightning hits my Tesla”

A few weeks ago, we reported on the lightning strike that disabled a charging Tesla Model S.

Shortly after our report surfaced, a video from a different angle found its way onto YouTube:

While the new video provides no additional detail as to why the Model S wasn’t functioning as usual, the owner’s various posts on the Tesla Motors Club forum do offer us some insight.

Owner Sarah Day provides the updates below, which we’ve condensed into something a bit more readable:

Paul from the service center called me. The car is working now, and everything seems to be working the way it’s supposed to work. Unfortunately, the people at the service center don’t know what went wrong. The engineers at corporate were doing all the analysis and were basically relaying instructions on what to do for the car.

My car is completely fixed. They want to pay to fly me out to Ohio and drive it down here. A bit inconvenient but oh well.

I know for sure they replaced the battery with a new one, but then I was told a long list of electrical components in the high voltage system. Oh, they had to replace both chargers, too.

They’re shipping out all the damaged components to California. Apparently the engineers are giddy to get their hands on everything. I’m sure they’re going to do a full analysis.

Day adds that Tesla is goodwilling the fix.  It will cost her nothing, but Tesla did apparently tell her that this is not typically covered under warranty. However, an incident such as this should be covered by auto insurance, but in this case Tesla is footing the bill, so no insurance claim is being made.

Lastly, Day had to sign several legal documents presented to her by Tesla.  Some of the documents are of the NDA (non-disclosure) variety and Day says she can’t discuss the contents.

And that’s all we know at this point in time.  Please do click this link for a more thorough discussion of the chain of events at the Tesla Motors Club forum.

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44 Comments on "Update On Tesla Model S Lightning Strike – (w/new video)"

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Too bad Tesla didn’t design their equipment with the “Ground Window” Concept. It would likely have been far more resilient to lightning strikes.

Most electronic infrastructure in the states is designed this way. Your cell phone and your wall telephone can’t stop working just because there’s a thunderstorm outside.

A 2 year repair of cable and telephone company’s equipment for each lightning storm is unacceptible. Things just have to work.

So, it would be good for SuperCharger users if they were also designed with this mindset.

Bill makes an excellent point. Cellular base station sites and radio transmission towers are all designed with halo/window/ring grounding techniques that makes them almost impervious to strikes. The Supercharger stations are often in exposed areas and should be similarly protected.

Not such a big deal in sunny California, but very significant as you head to the eastern half of the country.

I agree.

But in general, it should be around all DCFC stations…

I thought all charging stations have lightening protection built in…

Guess NOT in the case of Tesla.

There is a limit to how much protection against lightning can be reasonably provided. Even transformer sub-stations sometimes get “taken out” by lightning strikes, and once in our neighborhood we had a 3-1/2 hour power outage because one of those large green electric utility boxes was overloaded during an electrical storm.

It’s also possible, altho fortunately rare, for lighting to avoid lightning rods and arrester cables, striking a building or structure directly.

I rather suspect that cell phone towers being “taken out” by lightning strikes happens more often than you think. It’s just that there is enough overlap of cell phone tower coverage that if just one is taken out in an area, the others can take up the slack.


“Even transformer sub-stations sometimes get “taken out” by lightning strikes, and once in our neighborhood we had a 3-1/2 hour power outage because one of those large green electric utility boxes was overloaded during an electrical storm”

Sure, direct strike is hard to protect. But what you described here is power line surge due to lightening. That is different from direct surge. Transformers can’t be off. That is why a line surge can damage them. But a charging station can be shut off

Not to get lost in the minutia, but in general, a cheap lightning arrester is false economy. The good ones are a bit pricey but they work, unlike what was said here.

The other thing is sometimes on a URD (underground residential distribution system) is poorly designed in that they always remember to put an arrester on the pole where the line is undergrounded, but fail to put a SECOND arrester at the end of the span to arrest the reflected wave, it being ‘enhanced’ by the capacitance of the underground buried line. This is especially important on 34kv systems (19 kv pad transformer), since the transformer BIV rating is very near the system voltage to begin with and needs high-quality arresters properly applied on the line so as to not puncture the insulation on the primary winding.

“Direct hits are difficult to protect”, etc.

NOT NECESSARILY. Last summer I was in my open garage at the time and it sounded like a bomb went off.

My amateur transmitter station took a DIRECT hit by a good sized lightning bolt (verified by looking at my slightly cooked ground wire afterwards) to the active element on the antenna, and there was no damage to the house, nor the radio tranmitter connected to the antenna. My ham radio station is designed to ‘float’ during a lightning strike, with the harmful current only flowing through the grounding conductor. I don’t try to suppress the lightning since the currents are too high. I just make sure the *ONLY* current will be through the Grounding Conductor to safely bypass the house so as to not start a fire. My TV antenna is mirror image to the ham antenna, and is similarly protected, and they *BOTH* passively protect my solar panels and indirectly, the inverters in the basement so that all lightning strikes in the vacinity with be a direct strike on either the TV or ham radio antenna and therefore leave the solar panels sheltered.

I totally agree with what you said.

I was just meant that a direct lighting hit on the transformers would be hard o prevent.

But it is true that the best way to protect is to divert current away from objects intended to protect by creating a path of least resistance.

Lightning Arresters since the 1800’s (the C-CL4 things) PREVENT damage to transformers on a DIRECT strike.

Modern distribution voltages (19 kv in the example I gave above – used to day since they eliminate the need for a neighborhood distribution substation – of course there will still be transmission and subtransmission substations) necessitate a more high tech, expensive solution. The cost involved is having the arrester ‘gracefully recover’ from the lightning strike and turning the lights back on.

I work for a cell phone company, and lightning strikes happen all of the time; however, < 0.1% result in damage to the electronic equipment. Yes, we have alarms for pretty much all lightning strikes. BTW, Lightning strikes the same place more than once… or even a thousand times in 1 year.

Grouding a small power surge isn’t a problem but grounding lightning isn’t easy.

I will quote someone from the Tesla forum :
Tesla, unlike GM took an opportunity to learn and improve. GM would have just said… that’s a shame, then denied even making the car or that lightning is a thing.

That’s a conjecture. There are plenty of examples where GM engineers have taken interest in failed components and where GM has covered the cost and fixed the issues.

I know, there is plenty of good examples from GM (or the other established manufacturers) but they all have plenty of horror stories as well.

Like, Ignition Switches? 150+ dead customers and a class action wrongful-death lawsuit , gives me a clear expectation as to how GM would react in the same sutuation. These are some of the reasons I’m not interested in the Bolt BEV.

GM has jumped on every Volt issues from the start. So, yes, just about everything GM has done on the Volt has been great.

To your stupid retard repeat of iginition swich, GM even removed that from the Volt.

Anon, you are just a tireless fxxing trolls that it is almost annoying just to see your posts. Wish there is an ignore button…

Lastly, you must be among the stupid people who load 50 keys onto keychains too…

Wrongful deaths aren’t boring to those friends and families who survive such needless tragedies.

I’m sorry your cold, emotionless heart has absolutely no concerns over people basically being willfully murdered by acts of poor engineering and a corporate coverup for over a decade– before they acted to correct the (internally) well known problem with their vehicles.

So glad you can guilelessly buy GM products, and chide anyone who brings up the facts of the matter– even after knowing the truth about how GM treated their customers.

There is probably a special level of hell, reserved just for folks like you.

Guiltlessly, sorry.

“even after knowing the truth about how GM treated their customers”

They are treating their current customers just fine. I gave my examples, but you choose to bash the entire GM product for a single line of product.

It is like condenming the entire US government for all actions b/c 1 wrongful act was committed.

GM’s ignition should have been done right and improved. But to say that is the reason that rest of its new designs or even the Bolt aren’t worthy are just unfair.

That is NOT an problem. But for people like you, it is.

You have done it on other EV related sites as well. So, it seems that you really have an agenda to bash all GM and especially GM’s PEV program.

I wouldn’t be surprised that you aren’t a paid agent from a competitor.

Then again, maybe you are just nutjob f-k-up….

It’s truly awesome you haven’t had a family member or friend murdered by GM’s willful corporate greed and wrongdoing. *claps*

But not everyone is as lucky as you. Thanks for so valiantly sticking up for overpaid execs who treated their customers like the cigarette industry treated smokers, for decades.

Do you work for GM?

Maybe because my family aren’t as retard as some people out there.

We never hang large amount of keys on the chain. That was a hazard explained back in the 1980s… No need for repeat reminder.

We are also smart enough NOT to buy the junkie low end GM cars made in the 1990s. If we couldn’t afford the new cars, we buy the used GM high end cars which are usually sold at very good discount.

We are also technically competent unlike your average population.

No, I don’t work for GM. But I do own GM Volt.

No, I am NOT fan of all GM products or designs. Some of them are very nice, some of them are just trash.

But I don’t write off an entire corporation for a single terrible act.

I also have plenty friends who I went to engineering school with who are highly intelligent and competent. It doesn’t mean all GM engineers are good. But writing off an entire company of engineers as you have is just wrong or stupid.

Before you try to leap on your so called moral high ground. Let us look at some facts. 1. New NHTSA acceptable fix for the GM ignition is to fix the key with smaller holes so NO other keys can be hang on the ignition. 2. A “defective” ignition without any key weight will NOT turn itself off. 3. There is NO official swing weight requirement for keys/ignition set. 4. If you hang enough keys on any ignition, you can duplicate the EXACT SAME GM IGNITION FAILURES. 5. Those GM ignitions just happens to have slightly lower threshold in spring tension than others. Now, you can argue that GM should have done better (Which Delphi designed and manufactured the defective ignition) and I would have even agreed with it. But saying that NONE of the victim is potentially at fault for using the ignition incorrectly is just playing dumb or being a jack arse idiot. Now, if you rather go to personal attack, then I am sure you don’t want to go there since you are biggest effing idiot here who post absolutely NOTHING useful here. You are right, I am absolutely cold heart about you and people like you.… Read more »

Given your biased history of what you type in the comments on this site, you don’t come across a very sincere on the subject. It seems that you are using others sad event for your own desire to flame comment boards. That is what is most cold and heartless.

I will admit the thread was a bit hijacked or off tracked but, to defend GM? It’s a bit like Ma Darrow saying that Clyde was always such a good boy. She could not believe he could do anything wrong.

Not to defend GM, but to tell Anon to f-off to bring GM bashing into every post he writes…

I completely understand. Some people just have a low tolerance for having to emote over someone or something other than themselves, and fatigue easily…

No, just your stupid rants who often are nothing but an useless smirky comment which offers nothing of value in this comment section but to incite conflict.

Seriously, get a life or engineering degree of some kind…

I see.

GM is dead to me. Their negligence and wrongdoing is beyond any forgiving.

“Grouding a small power surge isn’t a problem but grounding lightning isn’t easy.”

Why NOT? Other electrical devices do all the time.

There are two ways to approach this. One is to reduce charge voltage diference by prevent lightening in a zone covered by a ligtening rod which discharges the volt before lightening occurs. The second way is to create a bypass path for the actual current.

The first way is far more effective and easier than the second way.

The lightening surge on the powerline are different issues which can be addressed with various power line suppressors…

Fortunately, it’s pretty rare to read a multi-paragraph comment on InsideEVS which is 100%, completely and totally, wrong from start to finish… like this one.

I especially enjoyed the part where you claim that a lightning rod creates a magical “zone of protection” preventing any lightning bolts from forming! Hilarious.

BTW — The noun you’re looking for is “lightning”. “Lightening” is a verb, meaning the process of making something less heavy.

“I especially enjoyed the part where you claim that a lightning rod creates a magical “zone of protection” preventing any lightning bolts from forming! Hilarious.”


Before I made you another fool out of this again, you should really learn to Google before you show how “stupid” you are in general. Since you were the one that claimed the Voltec was more complex about the 8-speed transmission and I showed how ignorant you and you have been quiet about it ever since..

Since you like to picking losing battles, I will hand you another defeat…

Here is a link that explain the two theory…

dissipation and diversion.


Now, if you want to become a spelling police since you obviously can’t hang with the technical discussion, then I will be more than glad to admit that I don’t proof read as much as I should and I am certainly NOT a spelling champ.

And before anyone starts to argue about dissipation theory, I never claimed that lighting rod will completely dissipate an entire storm. I stated that it will create a zone.

That is why you see a long rows of small lighting rods along roof ridges of some of the building which creates an area of those ionization zones…

If enough of those rods are placed along the carport area of the superchargers, it can reduces the chance or damages it can happen.

Nobody ever said the entire storms are dissipated or lightening strikes are completely prevented. It is all about reducing the risk.

ModernMarvelFan said:

“If enough of those rods are placed along the carport area of the superchargers, it can reduces the chance or damages it can happen.”

That is correct; reduce the chance of a lightning strike at a particular spot. Not stop the lightning bolt from forming, as you claimed! If you’d said that in the first place, you wouldn’t have gotten laughed at.

“Not stop the lightning bolt from forming, as you claimed! ”

Please don’t make up. I never stated such thing.

You might be better at spelling, but learn to read…

ModernMarvelFan said:

“Before I made you another fool out of this again…”

Is English a second language for you? You seem to have a problem forming a coherent sentence.

But that’s okay, I get the gist of your meaning. Shall we poll the readership here to see who readers think is making sense… and who is posting foolish nonsense?

“…you were the one that claimed the Voltec was more complex about the 8-speed transmission and I showed how ignorant you and you have been quiet about it ever since..”

I demonstrated that you were as clueless about that subject as you are about lightning, by posting a link to a YouTube video showing just how complex the Voltec engineering is. Since you apparently missed that, here it is again:


“…before you show how ‘stupid’ you are in general.”

You seem to think it’s appropriate to call anyone who points out any of the large number of factual errors in your posts “stupid” or “idiot” or even “stupid retard” (is that to differentiate from smart retards? 😉 ). Apparently you’re unaware of how obvious that makes your projection.

Lensman said: “Shall we poll the readership here to see who readers think is making sense… and who is posting foolish nonsense?”

Since you asked, Lensman, you are known to post foolish nonsense backed by dubious linked sources.

For example, you once claimed that a decade old back-of-the envelope calculation by some dude who posted an article on a financial investment website and who didn’t list any of his scientific or engineering credentials (apparently because he didn’t have any) was more-accurate/superior-to a recent peer reviewed well-to-wheels CO2 analysis by the most preeminent scientists in the field of energy at the world renowned Argonne National Labs.

The dude’s calculation was obviously wrong, since 40% of his 80% claimed loss was based on the false premise that to use hydrogen in a FCV you must “liquefy the hydrogen by cooling it down to about -253°C and keep it in a pressurized, insulated container.”


Lensman, “how complex the Voltec engineering is. Since you apparently missed that, here it is again” Since you like to claim that you are better at expressing your point, but you failed to go back to look at my original statement that Voltec is simpler than any 8/9/10 speed transmission. Then you repeatly being an “idiot” that you are by showing the Voltec video over and over without understanding the technical details. I even asked you to show me the mechanical complexity between the Voltec and 8-speed transmission. You couldn’t. I asked how how many planetary gearsets are there in the 8-speed transmission (hint, way mroe than Voltec). You couldn’t answer it. Then I even further explained that ONLY so called complexity of the Voltec is due to the “modes” which are NOTHING but SW controls. Compared with the mechnical complexity of a typical 8-speed transmission, it is far simpler. Only a mechanical/technical ignorant fool would continue to make the point that Voltec is more complex than a typical 8-speed transmission. Sure, you can make a claim that Voltec is more complex than a single speed gear box. But that was NEVER my point. My original point was always about… Read more »

Wow. The level of nastiness in the above exchanges (and many others, frankly) is really becoming too much to tolerate.


To quote the IT crowd:
“People, what a bunch of bastards” 🙂

That’s why I typically put a comment here (if I feel the need) and never (or rarely) check back on it.


It’s a shame we have to wade through endless bickering…back and forth…simply to get to any substance. Please post your view/opinion and be done with it. As it’s highly unlikely you’ll change the opinion of your counterpart there is no point to the endless arguing seen on MANY recent posts. Thanks all for putting up with my rant. 🙂

“Dinner is ready.”

“Hang on a second. I have to refute a bozo’s post that is totally WRONG.”

I posted this a couple of days ago in another thread, but will repost it here since it seems apropos. 😀

So Tesla doesn’t normally accept responsibility when its supercharger fries a Tesla car? That seems a little odd. If my car fell off the lift in the dealer’s garage, they would be responsible for it. What is with this company anyway? They seem to try to avoid accountability for everything.

Elon, it’s called insurance. Get some.