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Consumer Lightning Detectors


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Wondering if anyone on here has any kind of portable or handheld lightning detection device, or experience using those.

Not most commercial types or ones that you have to hook up to a computer with corresponding software in order to see the strikes it detects on a map (accurate real-time lightning data is very easy to see online now thanks to all the global lightning detection networks out there).

Though in any case, just like wx station devices, am creating this topic also to make note of these more unique kind of physical wx tools on here.

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https://skyscanusa.com/product/skyscan-p5-3-lightning-detector/

I have a portable, “tabletop” P5 detector by ‘SkyScan’ and have had the same exact one I bought since 2006. The one now sold on the site (P5-3) is a newer version. The older one I have is white. But even after all these years of having that much older model, it still does a very good job picking up just about every single CG strike close by and in the accurate range indicator (though it can also pick up stronger cloud discharges).

It was 100% worth the $200 investment, but it might’ve been slightly less than that back then in the 2000s. Like $180 (including shipping). Though I reckon the newest P5-3 model now sold is even more precisely accurate (SkyScan claims 95% on it).

I keep my old model plugged into the provided wall outlet AC adapter and it does have an actual electromagnetic interference detection feature in its hardware as well to eliminate false strike detection for the most part. The micro CPU hardware in personal lightning detection devices like my SkyScan are designed to pick up the EMP activity or rather, ‘signal’ triggered by an actual lightning strike, then processes it to determine its distance, etc. - This happens instantaneously (as soon as the detected strike occurs).

The farthest range indicator on that detector is 20 - 40 miles, but it can actually pick up strikes that are much further than that (like 150 miles here and there or basically, if it can be seen dimly over the horizon in a clear night sky).

It also has a Severe Thunderstorm indicator, but it’s really a frequent lightning indicator which when triggered, gives off a steady tone for a whole 15 seconds. The detector tone is fairly loud, so it can wake you up at night (especially if there’s a stronger storm or complex close by or coming in depending on range selected).

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As far as other lightning detector products are concerned, handheld ones don’t seem to do a good job of accurately calculating the distance of a strike from what I’ve been reading online in years past. Though I don’t have any personal experience using any other detectors aside from my old P5 Skyscan.

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