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We're in a rented house in the UK. We just experienced a nearby lightning storm, although we're not aware of any particularly close strikes.

During the storm one of the overhead LED lights in the kitchen "exploded" and the lighting circuit tripped, although the main circuit did not. By "exploded" I mean that it somehow forcefully blew off the plastic cover. The light was turned on when it happened. We have since turned the lighting circuit back on and that LED bulb is now dead, but there's no obvious visual sign of damage apart from the missing cover.

Is this a cause for concern? It seems like it might be bad that an event outside the house was able to damage an appliance inside.

That particular light is left on 100% of the time, so the circuit tripping will be the first time it's been turned off in months - maybe that's what caused it to "explode"?

We've had some previous issues with the electrics in this house that are supposedly fixed now... But this is a compounding strange thing. We've messaged an electrician but I'd like to independently understand the possible explanations and their implications.

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  • Other than the "globe" coming off the light, was there any visible damage to the fixture? There had to be something that would cause the plastic(?) cover to pop off, likely the result of electronics inside the fixture burning/exploding. – FreeMan May 18 at 13:14
  • @FreeMan Not visible, but most of the electronics are behind the board on which the LEDs are mounted. I haven't taken it apart to find the damaged component. My uninformed guess would be a capacitor pop. We didn't see any smoke or anything, but we didn't examine it until a couple of minutes after it happened. – Sam May 18 at 18:21
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You experience a power surge in your house, probably caused by lighting. Power surges can damage any circuits, but usually electronics like computers, TVs, or any electronic circuit boards in appliances and LED lights.

There are power surge protectors you can plug into outlets to protect TVs and computers. There are also whole house power surge protectors that hook into your electric panel, they run about 150 to 200 dollars(think about 250pounds).

This is why it is recommended to unplug TVs and computers during lighting storms.

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  • Right, a surge was what I assumed. However, I was under the impression that the standard circuitry is meant to offer sufficient protection against that, but I may be wrong. I'll have to dig into what's standard for UK houses. – Sam May 17 at 19:46
  • Standard circuitry usually not enough for protection from power surges. Power surge protectors are usually an add on. – crip659 May 17 at 19:49
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    @Sam To protect against lightning strikes, you need a whole house surge protector.. Unless those are required in homes in the UK, I doubt you would be protected by default. The more common surge protectors such as power strips mainly protect from fluctuations in the home such as when a high-draw device shuts off. – JimmyJames May 17 at 20:45
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    every british plug has protections built-in where US plugs have plain wiring. That said, nothing can protect 100% against lightning. – dandavis May 18 at 17:00
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    Lightning strikes tend to be more destructive in areas where the supply is mainly by wires on poles. Many American houses have the distribution supply (7kV - 34Kv) on poles stepped down to household voltage by pole mounted transformers ('pole pigs'). UK urban areas tend to have both these stages mostly underground, but the incoming HV bulk grid feed to the town would be wires on pylons exposed to lightning. A strike might trip circuit breakers and cause possibly smaller surges which can damage vulnerable equipment. – Michael Harvey May 19 at 19:16

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