Are Travel Trailers Safe in Lightning?

Published on July 9th, 2019 by Ray & Tammy Roman
This post was updated on February 13th, 2021

Assuming the travel trailer is built with an aluminum frame then yes, it is safe in lightning. This is due to what is called the Faraday Cage effect. Essentially if your travel trailer has a metal (aluminum or steel) frame then the metal forms a cage around you and the lightning goes around the RV and not into it.

If you would like to learn more about a Faraday cage Wikipedia has an excellent entry on them. You can check it out here.

Even if your RV is made of fiberglass as long as the frame is steel or aluminum you are safe. Popups or tents or if your RV frame is wood, you are not safe. If you are in one of these and you know a storm is coming, seek safe shelter immediately.

Sign up for the newsletter today!

Please enter a valid email address.

An error occurred. Please try again later.

× logo

Thank you for subscribing to the RV Living newsletter, keep your eye on your inbox for updates.

Another safety tip if you know a big storm is coming is to unplug your camper from shore power. A lightning strike anywhere near your shore power can potentially create a power surge that can fry onboard electronics such as TV, radios, computers, etc.

Word of Caution: There are two types of lightning hits that can occur to your RV, an indirect or direct hit. An indirect hit happens when the area around your RV, such as the RV park or local utility lines that feed the park is hit. This results in a surge of voltage entering your RV via the shore power hook up. Often time your electronic equipment is damaged due to the electrical surge. To protect again the electrical surge we recommend one of these best RV surge protectors. A direct hit is when the RV is hit directly by lightning. This is usually a very serious hit that will take out electronics, affect the electrical system, possibly start a fire, and can sometimes lead to loss of life. A direct hit is hard to avoid or protect against. Though direct hits are rare when they do happen it can be catastrophic.

Let’s answer some related questions.

Are pop up campers safe in lightning?

A pop-up camper does not have a metal frame around it so the Faraday cage effect won’t protect you from lightning. If the pop-up camper is your only option for shelter then take steps to diminish the chances of being struck by lightning. Take these safety steps:

  • Do not set-up near metal structures
  • Do not set-up near power lines or other objects that might attract lightning
  • Do not set-up on a hill, in a large clearing, or any tall trees.
  • If you are inside your pop-up camper during the lightning storm avoid touching any part of the metal frame.
  • Stay weather aware

Here some lightning statistics I found online.

  • The odds of getting hit by lightning in a single year is 1 in 700,000
  • Using an umbrella during a storm slightly ups your odds of getting struck
  • If your hair stands on end during a storm, that is not a good sign. It means a positive charge is accumulating around you and your chance of being hit by lightning is now very high.
  • Lightning can strike the same place more than once

Support RV Living

RV Living is run by RVers who share the most up-to-date and valuable content on camping and RVing every week. We couldn’t do it without the support of our readers just like you.

You can help support the efforts of RV Living by becoming an RV LIFE Pro subscriber, which gives you access to:

  • RV LIFE App, an RV Safe GPS™ with voice- and lane guidance, even offline.
  • RV LIFE Trip Wizard, a visual RV trip planner with custom RV-safe routes and a comprehensive directory of RV parks, resorts, and campgrounds.
  • RV LIFE Maintenance, a cloud-based service that tracks your RV maintenance and provides reminders, reports, and related documentation.
  • RV LIFE Masterclass, an online educational platform where RV experts share tips and advice on everything you need to know about RVing.

If you value our site and want to see us continue to grow, please consider supporting us by becoming an RV LIFE Pro subscriber today.