Will an EMP Destroy Batteries or Not?

With the threat of natural disasters, communications breakdowns, and attacks from hostile entities, it’s always important to be prepared for the possible attack of an EMP.

But should you only be worried about the safety of your electronics? Or will your batteries be affected by the EMP as well?

Most batteries won’t be affected by an EMP, but it’s a good idea to store them in a Faraday cage just in case. You should also store a few smaller electronics such as cell phones in the cage for when the grid is restored. 

Continue reading to learn more about the effect of EMP’s on different types of batteries and electronics.

Most Batteries can Survive an EMP Blast

The truth is most metal-wrapped batteries have a natural barrier to protect them from an EMP blast because of the way they are made. Batteries such as nickel-metal hydride, lithium-ion batteries, and regular alkaline batteries most likely won’t be bothered, but as a prepper knows, it’s always best to be prepared. 

Since more advanced electronic devices are using complicated batteries such as charge controllers, and smart chips these types of batteries would suffer the most damage from an EMP blast. 

Batteries that are connected to your electronic devices during an EMP blast would be affected as well. The best way to protect your batteries is to disconnect them from the devices and store them in a Faraday cage. More on that later. 

Some batteries are difficult to remove like laptop and tablet batteries, and cell phone batteries. Batteries in these devices need protection from an EMP event the most. 

What is an EMP Blast?

An EMP is an Electromagnetic Pulse that can come from natural or artificial means. It is a blast or wave that can cripple electronic communications, transportation, and infrastructure. 

An example of a natural EMP is a solar flare. Depending on the size of the flare it could affect the entire planet. Artificial EMP’s can come from specialized nuclear bombs detonated in the air. These can disrupt large areas of infrastructure and electronics. 

Repercussions of an EMP Attack

The majority of the power grid here in America is not prepared for an EMP attack, therefore if we are hit with such a blast, most of our lives would be disrupted and it could take upwards of two years to get everything back on track. 

We would be without things like:

  • Power and public utilities
  • Internet
  • Communications
  • Broadcast services and news
  • Medical services
  • Emergency services like Police and Firefighters
  • Transportation
  • Banking

Most people are not prepared at all for such an attack, and the sudden loss of all these services and more would cause mass panic and chaos.

Incomes would dry up because there are no jobs to go to. People in need of medical services to survive would no longer have access. You wouldn’t be able to go to the nearest ATM and withdraw money, and there would be no power or electronic devices unless you have some stashed away in safe places. 

How to Protect Your Batteries from an EMP Blast

As we mentioned above, most batteries have their own minor protection built-in, but to be truly safe, it’s best to store your batteries in a Faraday cage. You’ll especially want to protect your more advanced batteries like the ones in your cell phone, tablet, and/or laptop. These batteries are particularly susceptible to an EMP blast. 

What is a Faraday Cage?

A Faraday cage is basically a box or other container that blocks out electromagnetic radiation, such as electricity, microwaves, and of course what we are talking about, the EMP blast. You can purchase them online, or if you’re relatively handy, you can make your own Faraday cage. 

Right now, you can purchase smaller Faraday cages that are relatively inexpensive. These smaller ones you could store batteries, spare cell phones, or small electronics like a compact radio.

How to Build a Faraday cage

A simple Faraday pouch can be made from thick paper or poster board, aluminum foil, and tape. With your thick paper, simply fold out a shape big enough for your cell phone or a couple packs of batteries, keep the top open, then wrap the envelope tightly with aluminum foil. Next wrap the aluminum foil with another layer of poster board or your thick paper, insert the items you want to save and seal it tight. 

You can make them big enough for a tablet or laptop as well. 

If you need something bigger, you can build a wood frame, and then wrap the frame in metal mesh and attach that with a staple gun just line it with corrugated cardboard, or something non-conductive so your stored electronics are not destroyed. 

You can also use a metal garbage can with a tight-fitting lid or ammo cans. Line the bottom and sides inside of the garbage can with cardboard, and don’t forget to line the bottom of the lid also. This prevents electricity from zapping the electronics you store inside. Once the garbage can is lined with corrugated cardboard, make sure the lid sits tight on the top with metal touching metal to make a complete seal. 

If you’re using ammo cans, the same principle applies. Line them with a cardboard top and bottom, but make sure the lid sits on the metal of the can to create a good seal that will block out the EMP waves. 

How to Test Your Faraday Cage

Now that you have your own Faraday cage, how can you tell if it truly works? That’s simple, find a portable AM FM radio, turn it on and set it inside your cage. Once it’s inside and you clamp the lid on, you should only hear static. 

When the music shuts off and is replaced by static, that should be music to your ears because it means your Faraday cage is blocking out all radio signals and will work to block out EMP blasts. 

A cell phone will work also. Set the cell phone inside your cage, shut it, then make a call. If your Faraday cage works, your call should not go through. If the cell phone inside the Faraday cage rings, you have a hole that needs to be closed off. 

What Else Can You Put in Your Faraday Cage?

Now that you have a Faraday cage and have tested it, aside from batteries and extra cell phones, what else should you store away in case of an EMP attack? Below are several options, but it all depends on how much space you have, and what is most important to your survival. 

  • Chargers and cords for all your devices
  • CB radio
  • Police scanner
  • Solar power inverter
  • USB drives of personal information
  • Extra medical devices
  • Rechargeable hand tools with batteries and chargers
  • Anything else that might be useful if the power grid and communications goes down. 

The options are nearly limitless, but in the end, it comes down to your survival, your plan, and what you absolutely need. 

Something else that should absolutely be stored in your Faraday cage is rechargeable batteries, chargers, and all the cords. Sure, you can store single-use batteries, they will last a long time, but having batteries that can be recharged and reused helps cut down on storage space, and the need for searching out new batteries if you run out of single-use batteries. 

Will Your Car Battery Survive an EMP Attack?

There are differing debates on whether a wet cell battery, i.e., a car battery, will survive an EMP blast. While the car itself will most likely be completely disabled during an EMP blast because of all the electronics found in newer vehicles, the battery may not be affected. 

Wet cell batteries are more stable than their dry cell counterparts, like alkaline, and lithium-ion batteries, hence the debate on whether they would survive an EMP pulse better or not. Studies suggest that car batteries would not take damage during an EMP event, but if you are truly worried, then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep one stored away, though you probably won’t be able to use it in your car. 

Wrapping It All Up

An EMP blast could come from natural means like the sun, or from an attack by hostile enemies. This would cripple most of the world, and everyone not prepared for such an event. Since the power grid would be affected by such an event, batteries make a great, temporary solution to the power crisis, but they should be protected just in case. 

Batteries on the whole are protected by themselves from an EMP attack. Their metal jacket provides some protection for the blast, but in these times of more advanced electronics, we need more protection for these complicated devices. 

The best, most surefire way to keep all your batteries and electronic devices safe is to store them in a Faraday cage. Whether you are the do-it-yourself type and make your own or buy prefabricated Faraday cages to store your sensitive batteries, a savvy prepper knows better to be safe and prepared, than to be without.