Lightning Disturber explained

Some of you more ‘advanced’ users may have found your way to the Station Status page. Use this page to see a wealth of diagnostic data about your smart weather station. Couple ways to find it:

  1. App > Settings > Stations > [select station] > Status
  2. Click the green dot “online” status indicator near bottom right of your weather page.


And some may have noticed the row called Sensor Status with “LIGHTNING_DISTURBER”.

Your AIR is equipped with the Franklin Lightning detector which is designed to alert home users when lightning activity is in the area. It detects both cloud-to-ground and cloud-to-cloud lightning strikes by sensing electromagnetic pulses. While it is not powerful enough to detect each and every strike, it does a pretty good job alerting when storms are in your area. It can also approximate the distance by virtue of signal strength.

Most home owners live in an environment with lots of electrical activity. In an attempt to squelch alerts from non-lightning electromagnetic pulse (such as large electrical appliances, overhead power lines, outdoor speakers, air conditioning units, etc) the Franklin detector has a set of onboard algorithms to inspect the electromagnetic pulses and disqualify the pulses that do not resemble lightning. These disqualified pulses are captured and noted as “LIGHTNING_DISTURBERS”.

While the little Franklin Lightning detector inside the AIR is pretty cool, it’s not meant to replace more powerful and sophisticated (and expensive!) lightning detection hardware like those used by professional lightning detection networks. See if you want to be enlightened.


So, is this ok and normal for that to be the status of the Air?

Yes. I have an Air that gives that code 1440 times a day.


really - just set that bit true in the mask…

I use several Franklin sensors for lightning detection and they do report the presence of disturber or high noise. I don’t know what smart integration WF did for it but the sensor is able to change the sensitivity (e.g. indoor/outdoor) and gain. I use it with Arduino and works very good. I wonder how the Air readings will compare to my sensors.

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I hope mine does not get tons of false readings I live about a 1/8 mile from a high power VHF television station , so will that be a problem or should it filter it out when it sees it constantly there

The air will filter out most, maybe not one or two lost signals. Normally a telly station is broadcasting on completely other frequencies then those generated by a lightning that is mostly in between 20 and 200 Khz.

But those high powered stations could lower the sensibility for lignthing strikes, you’ll see once installed how it goes.


Thanks Eric I just got it up and running getting ready to post some pics in appropriate thread

Thanks !!!

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OK… Ben, in the USA, North Carolina, with a 220K AC 60Hz Power Transmission line @ 100ft high above ground, within a 100 ft (ground distance from Power Tower base to my AIR unit. ((A Right Triangle, with a 100 ft x 100ft Adjacent and Opposite legs)) So this is the ‘reason’ for ‘Lightning Disturbers’ ? (Oh, is there a link to how this is all defined and done? IE Is there a URL where the process of Lightning-Disturber On/Off is described?)… ALSO, how often is this condition checked?.. I mean if I am trying relocate my AIR to a different location, what triggers a reevaluation? Thanks, Ben - WB2RHM

Just saw the words “Lightning Disturber” on the Sensor Status line for WFAIR. Haven’t seen that before. What does that mean? Will this clear back to OK on its own. . .or will that require Operator Intervention?

it is a status indicator of the lightning detector. It means that the sensor picks up signals that appear to be lightning but in the end do not qualify as such. It’s ok, it often happens when some nearby electronic equipment switches on/off. Sensor would be more happy if the source of the interference were removed, but it doesn’t harm much. It does increase the possibility of getting false lightnings.


Since I’d never noticed that before…wasn’t sure if that was an item to be alarmed about or not.

Thanks for the explanation.

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I’ve have the same status with the AIR mounted on my deck. The lightning sensor doesn’t appear to be affected too much. I initially had the AIR too close to the house and it was picking up false strikes. Moving it further out remedied the issue.

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I moved your post to a topic that explains the issue.

Does anyone know with my latest tempest why it is saying lightning disturber under the status, instead of ok? Thanks

replace Air with Tempest, explanation still valid since it is the same sensor in both devices.

hello I don’t understand your answer, I would like to get the status sensor to read ok ,not lightning disturber , do you have to reset tempest to make it go away?

If the “Franklin” lightning detector chip in Tempest no longer rejects false lightning signals, also known as “Lightning Disturbers”. . .then it will go back to OK for the sensor status all on its own. Users have no control as to when Tempest will detect these “disturbers” or when they will happen or when Tempest will revert back to OK. Sometimes…these “disturbers” last for a few hours to a few days. . .then all of the sudden. . .it (Tempest) cures on its own. . .and it’s back to normal (sensor status = OK) until the next “disturber” is detected.

I have even experimented with this by going into the Settings for each of my Tempest devices. . .clicking on “Disable Lightning” meaning to turn off the lightning detection capability for that Tempest and it STILL sometimes shows “Lightning Disturber” even with lightning switched off!

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it doesn’t need to go away. The sensor still works and will detect lightning when it shows lightning disturber. It is however an indication that something in your environment causes signals that get picked up by the detector. It might be an airco turning on, anything high power switch on by a relais (or manually), some motor starting, or a very bad motor running. If it is a running motor you might need to do something about it, as that might block out the normal detection. Other than that, just ignore it as it is basically the chip doing its work… detecting possible lightning signals and rejecting those that aren’t real lightning. If it rejects one, it is going to display the ‘lightning disturber’ status.