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This seems to be a really good article about the real and imaginary dangers of various EMP events. Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is generated usually when a nuclear device is detonated in the upper atmosphere.
The most important concept is wave physics, or the frequency and wavelengths of the EMP waves.
Incidentally, this also explains why, if you search the internet, you can see government buildings use 1-inch copper mesh. EMP doesn’t correlate with yield – any nuke can generate an EMP, so “rogue states” can do it – and in fact, some have tested missiles apparently optimized for EMP. Our testing has shown that the best materials are copper and stainless steel for shielding purposes. For all practical purposes, material thickness is irrelevant for EMP (almost any available material is thick enough).
We also wanted to talk about some of the newest known tactical energy weapons out there and how to counter them. Boeing CHAMP Missile – This missile is supposed to create a high-powered microwave (HPM) that disrupts electronics within a single target building. Active Denial System – This military program is another HPM device, operating on the 95 gigahertz frequency.
NATO EMP – This device was unveiled recently – it just made the news within the past two months.
As you can see, the major directed energy weapons that are being touted as “next generation” are generally not a material threat – assuming you have done some basic preparations. This entry was posted in Preparedness 101 and tagged EMP, Faraday cage by paadmin.Bookmark the permalink.
We tested a sample of 37 cars in an EMP simulation laboratory, with automobile vintages ranging from 1986 through 2002.
Automobiles were subjected to EMP environments under both engine turned off and engine turned on conditions. The Soviet experience is a warning to keep critical electrical spare parts on hand for the older vehicle. YES, to an extent, an old microwave oven may be re-purposed as a Faraday cage against EMP (electro magnetic pulse). A Faraday cage by its very definition does not have to be grounded to reflect or keep out electro-magnetic waves (they normally are not grounded). If a microwave oven is used as an EMP shield (Faraday cage),I would suggest that the cord be cut and removed to prevent it from becoming an antenna. Not a bad idea, but in theory, not necessary given the existing shielding of the chamber itself. Bought some aluminum attic radiant barrier foil a few years back, it’s like heavy duty aluminum foil with threads inside for strength. I regret to inform you that a microwave oven is only partially effective as a Faraday cage, something you can test for yourself.
In any event, there are better methods of do-it-yourself Faraday cage design, as you mention. I wouldn’t have expected the shielding on a microwave oven to do anything but protect the user from the oven.
If I remember correctly, 1) there is no screen over the magnetron’s output port (duh!) and 2) there is high-voltage DC applied to the magnetron. Go to any old appliance store and buy old single door refrigerator or freezer, , take off the rubber gasket, so that the door metal contacts the main shell, then line the inner walls completely with cardboard or styrofoam, place your electronic on cardboard covered shelves, you can easily store radio’s ,lap tops,etc. A corollary question is this: How would the generator connected to that Automatic Transfer Switch fare in an EMP event?
I suspect what has happened is that the microwave manufacturers have cheapened their units, and provide just enough RF protection to keep your eyeballs from being fried.
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Non-nuclear explosive devices work too but on a smaller scale; even a transformer exploding, as in the movie Small Soldiers, generates a localized pulse. Our focus is on preventing damage in the range of roughly 200 mHz – 1 gHz, mostly the domain of E1.
E1 and E2, have much higher frequencies, so they are basically dissipated in the atmosphere by water vapor over a long distance.

Copper is the single best material that is somewhat cost-effective (however, mixed materials, such as silver-coated or copper-coated stainless steel, can perform even better). We will cover the Boeing CHAMP missile, the Active Denial System, Bofors BAE Blackout system, and the recently revealed NATO EMP system.
Based on the public video footage (available on Boeing’s web site), we believe counters are relatively simple.
The range is reportedly relatively high – up to a few hundred meters – but the machine is bulky. It is a vehicle-mountable device that stops cars by interfering with the electronic control systems. Utilities have never been tested against a large scale EMP event – the most recent solar flare that caused major damage was in 1989 in Canada. One EMP could cause almost 200 simultaneous nuclear meltdowns if cooling [for the plants and their co-located spent fuel storage ponds] goes offline. When civilization fails and the desperate masses begin looting, they will come for your food, water and life-sustaining supplies. As long as the holes in the screen are smaller than the wavelength of the frequencies you are trying to protect against, screen works just as well as a solid piece of metal.
In the case of a nuclear detonation, the electromagnetic pulse consists of a continuous frequency spectrum. Since the holes of the screen mesh of a microwave oven are small compared to the wavelength of the microwave itself, little radiation can leak out. I do know that cell phones operate at lower frequencies, however I would assume that a microwave shielding would also block lower frequencies by default – since the microwave frequencies themselves are higher and require smaller holes in the screen. Since EMP is nothing more than a high energy RF pulse, any Faraday cage which will shield you from EMP will also shield you from RF.
I am also somewhat surprised that the microwave shielding seems to be apparently somewhat ‘tuned’ or restricted? What I found is that supposedly, a microwave is permitted to radiate up 0.25 Watts of power.
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You have read and agree to the Global Shipping Program terms and conditions - opens in a new window or tab. Import charges previously quoted are subject to change if you increase you maximum bid amount. EMP is comprised of the fast rise-time E1 component, the lightning-type E2 component, and the solar flare type E3 component.
Above 1 gHz, it becomes increasingly more difficult to create damaging waves, although theoretically possible. In other words, for E1 and E2 to be affecting your electronics, your general metro area must have been specifically targeted by an EMP weapon. Apparently, the logic is that a nuke would have to be targeted at that specific area in order for the building to be impacted by E1 and E2 (which require MUCH smaller mesh hole sizes, which increase the cost dramatically).
It is very good for E3, in addition to E1 and E2, but it is also expensive and very fragile.
However, if visibility is needed, use many small openings (pinholes) in the material versus a few large ones.
However, it may be the case that you can get a call through (if you are very close to a cell tower) but the shielding is sufficient. It’s touted as a way to safely shut down speeding cars (to prevent car bombs at checkpoints).
If these weapons exist and can in fact generate significant E1 and E2 over large regions, they are a major threat.
A perfectly timed solar flare has the capability to fry the power grid – perhaps permanently. To protect these, as well as your family and home, you must be able to neutralize the threat. A Faraday cage is an enclosure formed by conducting material or by a mesh of such material.
Most of the energy is distributed throughout the lower frequencies between 3 Hz and 30 kHz. There are also mesh screens on the sides of the oven cavity, one to protect the oven light while allowing it to shine into the cavity, the other to permit ventilation. The article states that most of the energy will occur below 30 KHz and while I suspect this frequency may depend on the actual type of EMP involved, this is still close enough to the AM band to use an AM radio for testing.
The microwave oven does apparently restrict these frequencies, but the attenuation itself in dB is unclear. If you reside in an EU member state besides UK, import VAT on this purchase is not recoverable.
Different things are vulnerable to different components of EMP, so let’s cover what you actually need to know. As wavelength decreases (and frequency increases), eventually you get into microwave territory, so the shell of a solid object starts to absorb the energy, not the interior electronics.
One cannot make an EMP with an E1 pulse across the entire continent – the power requirement is beyond even nuclear capabilities. That means that particular nuclear device is NOT targeting anywhere else – so short of nuclear war, the loss of any one single facility cannot significantly impact the US.

Stainless steel blocks higher wavelength RF energy slightly better and is much stronger and cheaper. 100 OPI (openings per inch) balances visibility and protection – we even use it in our products so we can testify to its effectiveness. For your laptop – disconnect cables connected to USB or serial ports, or all ports for that matter. EMP can be analogized like a gunshot sound – without protection, your hearing will be damaged. The reason for that appears to be that the weapon attacks through the power supply and building wiring In other words, unconnected laptops may well be unaffected .
But, based on the data provided, we believe it can be countered with a literal aluminum foil shield or other metal shield. Therefore, we believe that a shield made out of stainless steel, or copper, with relatively small holes (100 OPI) should prevent damage to enclosed devices. The issue we see is that, given that it does not destroy the electronics of the cars, the strength of the wave transmitted cannot be very high. A full EMP, not just a solar flare, would have an unknown effect because utilities have never been tested to our knowledge on a full system level, only piece by piece. A microwave oven’s very design is to enclose the electro-magnetic radiation of microwaves, and keep them from getting out. However the first effects of nuclear detonation are the very-high-frequency pulses, in the microwave range, and can work their way into Faraday cages if there are cracks, seams, or vents. Simply tune the radio to the strongest local station and put it in whatever you are testing.
However, it IS possible to generate a wide-ranging E3 pulse (due to its much longer wavelength). Furthermore, within each E3-shielded building, certain rooms ARE shielded to a much better standard to protect the really mission-critical equipment from E1 and E2.
Our testing showed that striking the USB or serial ports – pathways into the electronics of the laptops – made the laptops much more vulnerable. With earmuffs, you can still hear the gunshot, but it’s no longer able to damage your hearing. As the wave only penetrates the very outer layers of skin, a very thin metal film should be enough to counter this weapon. In other words, it should be relatively easy to, again, use a metal mesh material or aluminum foil to reduce the effectiveness of the device. Utilities themselves acknowledge that cooling systems and fans are relatively easy to affect. We all know that commercial companies don’t put anything more than what they have to for fear of reducing their profit, so it would reasonable to assume microwave ovens are probably between 40 and 50 dB of shielding. In practice, shielding effectiveness does not always work this way, but this is a “good enough” explanation. The E2 and E3 components are far lower in frequency, with E3 having such a long wavelength that, as long as your devices are not connected to any large conductive lines (like power lines or antennae), and are small, they should not be damaged by E3. With the built-in EMI (electromagnetic interference) shielding inherent in most electronics, using any of these materials is sufficient protection. The main issue with protective materials is creating a solid seal around an enclosed object. Have a few backups inside Faraday cages (electrical insulation, we’ve found, is actually not very important because the nature of a Faraday cage keeps all the energy on the outside surface of the shield, not the inside.
By the same token, no earmuffs will help you if you are standing next to a main battle tank about to fire – you will feel it.
Additionally, enclosing electronics within a Faraday cage should enhance protection even further. Additionally, this system reportedly works only in clear weather – rain or fog apparently reduces the weapon’s effectiveness to merely being a nice warm feeling. As a side note, EMP testing by the US Congressional Commission on EMP showed that most vehicles are either fine or relatively easily repaired in an EMP event, so vehicle shielding is most likely unnecessary – unless these weapons exist.
Normally, that is not a problem, but if the cooling system for a nuclear power plant was disrupted, it could be catastrophic.
I just did this with my microwave and while the signal did get rather noisy, it could still be heard, even with the door closed. Its not bad, but it just isn’t enough to fulling attenuate the AM station to the point that it is inaudible. This also means that grounding a Faraday cage is irrelevant – it just bleeds the energy out faster, but since all the energy is on the outside, there’s no damage to your electronics anyway.
We actually achieved a similar effect, albeit on a smaller scale, while doing our EMP testing and solved it by grounding. A metal shield to block the microwaves, or even a body of water, should reduce this threat significantly. Additionally, careful analysis of the footage reveals that many of the computers remain semi-operational even after the strike while being plugged in.
It’s possible that the worst damage from this missile could just a simple reset of your electronics. Most effective, good old aluminum foil and ammo cans, even with the rubber seal, although you do need to make sure that any metal like an antenna does not touch the foil or the steel of the can.

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