I used an iZombie box to great effect in creating a lightning effect.  The product is great out of the box, but there are three things that can really improve the effect.

1.  LED bulbs

with LED spotlights for a great lightning effect.  The box is very simple, plug in lights and a cd player and you are in business.  You can use a standard incandescent bulb, which works fine, but LED spotlights (which you can get for around $12 a piece) really have it over previous incarnations.

While incandescent bulbs have to build up their intensity, which causes lag, LEDs create an immediate flash. Xenon strobes have the flash, but don't have the constant on for those really long and blinding flashes.  (I always think of the skeleton at the ship's wheel in the Pirates of the Carrabean at Disneyland.  The pulsing of the lightning makes it feel like a strobe light, not like natural lighting.)  Also, the color of the light emmited from LED bulbs is the brilliant white associated with electric discharge.

2.  Create a delay between the flash of light and the roll of thunder

Another method to really spice up the iZombie box is to adjust the audio track.   If you have audio editing software, you can split the stereo track and create a delay in one of the tracks.  This is very similar to the method I used for
driving servos with sound so that they match better with the audio track.

If you use the original track to drive the lights and the delayed track to the speaker, You can create the classic delay between the lightning and the thunder.  (You can count the number of seconds between the flash and the thunderclap in order to figure out how far away your storm is.)

3.  Use a powered subwoofer for your speaker

If you have a sub for your home theater, you can co-opt it for your thunder.  There is nothing better than that chest rumbling thunderclap to really make the effect hit home.

Click below to see a demo