Can a lightning strike fry an entire HDMI pathway? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 09-21-2013, 06:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Ugh - I think I have major damage. I have a Panasonic TH-50PX75U, which I got right at the end of 2007. Yesterday, it was working fine in the morning, but now I get no content through either HDMI input. I do get content coming in from an Xbox connected to one of the Component inputs - haven't checked the other component, the cable-in or other composites yet. We had a severe electrical storm yesterday afternoon, with a couple of strikes seemingly right on top of my house.

I have the system set up as: Scientific Atlanta cable box, roku, and DVD player connected via HDMI to a Panasonic VSX-1121 receiver, and on to the TV via HDMI. I also have an Xbox connected directly to the TV via component, and sometimes run a laptop to the TV on the second HDMI input for Youtube, etc. Currently, I get no picture or sound from the cable box, roku, or DVD player coming through the receiver, and no picture or sound from the laptop connected to the TV. There is a picture coming in from the Xbox connected via component.

Given that the there is no sound coming from the receiver when it's set for cable box input, but the cable box is responsive to channel change, etc, and there is no signal getting to the TV from any source connected via HDMI, could I have fried the entire chain of HDMI inputs and outputs?

Other observations - when the PC is connected to HDMI 2, and I use the TV remote to cycle through the TV inputs (cable TV, Video 1, Video 2, HDMI 1, HDMI 2, Component 1, Component 2), the picture on the PC screen clicks off then on when I leave or reset to HDMI 2. That tells me the TV and PC are talking over the HDMI connection, but there is no content being passed.

I'll continue to test with all the sources connected via component, to see if that works. Any suggestions for the best way to figure out where the problem lies?
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post #2 of 5 Old 09-21-2013, 02:18 PM
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The first thing to try is a full reset to factory settings on all your equipment.

I do hope you have adequate insurance. Also check the warranty provided by your surge suppressors.

Lightning strikes, even those at a significant distance, will cause random failures. There's no way to predict exactly what they'll do. There's no control over where the damaging current will flow. Of course, HDMI connections are the most likely to get fried, especially if your incoming cable TV connection is not properly grounded. Have that checked: your local cable company might be able to reimburse you for some of the damage.

The most effective prevention is a whole-house surge suppression system, but even that can't protect against a direct lightning strike.

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post #3 of 5 Old 09-21-2013, 04:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Surge suppressors? frown.gif I'll have to check my house insurance, but my gut feeling is that I'm just going to be out of pocket. What are some recommended reasonably priced surge suppressors? Or should I just google "shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted"?

At least it's an opportunity to shop for a new TV. This one has been great for the almost 6yrs I've had it, and I think it's working fine except for the HDMI inputs, so it's still usable. I need to find out if the HDMI out on the 1121 is working, and if it is, I won't need to replace that. I don't have a real good feeling about that though.

I'm interested in the suggestion to reset everything to factory settings Could that bring the HDMI ports back to life? Thanks for the reply!
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post #4 of 5 Old 09-22-2013, 05:57 AM
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Surge suppressors are available to go in-line with almost all of the different types of interconnections. I tend to use IsoBar TrippLites, but there are plenty of others available. You might check with your local electronics store to find the ones with the best warranties. They usually claim to provide tens of thousands of dollars in insurance for connected equipment. I dunno how they decide they're liable, though. I've been lucky enough not to need to make a claim.

My understanding is that the major source of such spikes is the incoming cable TV connection, so certainly call the cable company and have them make sure it's properly protected and grounded.

All modern home entertainment equipment have computers built into them. Any electrical spike can confuse them badly in unpredictable ways. While there's no guarantee that a reset would fix any of your problems, it certainly can't hurt, especially at this point. The owners manuals usually have reset instructions buried at the back.

The first thing to try would be a "soft reset". This is just unplugging the equipment from the wall power for several minutes. All modern home entertainment equipment only go into "standby" when you use their built-in "power" buttons. Some of their electronics is still left powered on, usually including the memory for their various settings. Some equipment (for certain, some Lenovo laptops) do a better job of a "soft reset" if you hold down the power button while they're disconnected from main power and internal batteries.

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post #5 of 5 Old 09-22-2013, 08:32 AM
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Yes, lightning can cause this damage.

Most if not all surge suppressors do NOTHING... unfortunately. HDMI is a very delicate high speed interface. It's extremely vulnerable to damage from nearby electrical transients such as lightning. Even electrostatic discharge from your finger can damage it. There's usually limited ESD protection because it operates at around 400MHz (this speed significantly limits the size of any protection components due to capacitive loading.)

There is a HDMI receiver/multiplexer on the main board for these plasmas. The multiplexer can be damaged which means it will not work any more. Unfortunately the multiplexer also forms part of the HDCP decryption unit. Therefore the whole "A" board will need replacement on these sets in most cases.
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