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New lightning protector detects storms

Summer is here, and so are Gauteng’s notorious lightning storms. To try and protect expensive equipment from getting fried, the Astraphobe DSL lightning protector, which automatically disconnects phone lines when it detects lightning has been launched.

Tired of replacing expensive internet and telephone equipment destroyed by lightning strikes? South African tech company Jacstech is, so they created a unique product that automatically protects your connected devices when storm clouds gather.

The Jacstech Astraphobe DSL is a small box that attaches to your incoming internet and telephone connection. A smart device that really doesn’t like storms (astraphobia is the abnormal fear of lightning), it automatically detects lightning and disconnects the ADSL and telephone lines. When the storm moves away, the Astraphobe reconnects the line.

Until now, homeowners in lightning-prone areas have had to learn the hard way that the only method of protecting equipment in a storm is to unplug it,” says Nielsen, founder of Jacstech.

But even if you’re home, doing so is a hassle and when you’re out, it’s simply not possible to perform this manual intervention. That leaves equipment dangerously exposed.

Nobody likes inconvenience, especially not the internet generation. Ease of access is everything and as a result, our lines tend to stay connected at all times. If you’re away and a storm rolls in, your router and any other equipment connected to it can be zapped even if there is a surge protector on the power supply,” Nielsen notes.

That’s because the powerful surge of electricity from a lightning strike can travel down the ADSL and telephone lines, destroying sensitive – and expensive – equipment. And because ADSL lines are typically connected directly to the router and onwards to printers, computers, games consoles, storage systems and other devices, the amount of damage that can be caused by a lighting strike is substantial.

Features of the Astraphobe include:

· Automatic storm detection system identifies approaching weather at a distance of up to 40km

· Disconnects/reconnects ADSL line automatically

· Computer controlled with user-definable preferences

· Maintains activity logs

· Simple installation and configuration

· ICASA approved.

Extensively tested over the 2013 storm season, the patent-pending device is proudly made in South Africa. The low-cost Astraphobe is designed for longevity, successfully performing over 180 000 connect/disconnect cycles, which is the equivalent of over 300 years of continuous operation in a storm-prone area. “We put huge effort into designing a quality product that was at the same time relatively cheap to produce, as some internal components were expensive to purchase but absolutely required. Our sales model is to sell one unit per relevant household that will give years of service” says Nielsen.

Initially available from, the Astraphobe will also be made available in a selection of retailers and is expected to be priced at R1399 inclusive.

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Thanks for your input and you raise a valid point. However, most routers come with a splitter with two outputs. One output will typically be used for the phone while the other is used for the ADSL router.

When installing the Astraphobe, you would connect it to the ADSL line and not have to worry about it disconnecting your landline during a storm.



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