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Lightning Protection for Single Family Homes

Lightning is a hazard to all types of structures, yet homeowners live with unique personal and emotional risks. Foremost is the need to protect family, pets, and other members of the household from harm. 

Lightning Protection for Single Family Homes

Special Risk Factors

Lightning is a hazard to all types of structures, yet homeowners live with unique pragmatic and emotional risks. Foremost is the need to protect family, pets, and other members of the household from harm. In addition to starting fires, powerful electrical surges due to lightning can damage appliances, computers, home entertainment systems, home security systems, and other expensive electronic devices. Economically, a family can suffer from uninsured losses, the destruction of priceless family heirlooms, the cost of temporary living accommodations, and disruption to home-based businesses. Moreover, a lightning strike can leave psychological scars that rob a family of its peace of mind and its feeling of safety in their home. Lightning protection for a single-family home can truly make a difference and save a family from so much loss. 

The Cost of Damage

According to the Insurance Industry Institute, a trade association, more than $900 million in insurance claims for lightning damage were paid out in 2019 to nearly 77,000 policyholders. When insurance deductibles, non-covered expenses, and damage to uninsured property is included, lightning causes more than a billion dollars of damage to residences annually.


If this damage occurred in a single storm, it would be declared a national disaster. But even though lightning strikes are distributed across the country and throughout the year, each incident has the potential to be a disaster to the family affected.

Lightning Fire Damage:

Fishers, IN Fire Department

Norwalk, CT Fire Department

Families in all parts of the country are at risk of lightning damage, as these selected headlines make clear:

  • California - “Lightning Strike Damages Home, Leads to Evacuations”
  • Connecticut - “Firefighter injured after lightning sets house on fire”
  • Florida - “Woman, 91, ‘lucky’ after escaping lightning strike that destroyed home”
  • Hawaii - “Lightning strike causes costly damage to home”
  • Idaho - “One man hospitalized, two dogs killed in house fire sparked by lightning”
  • Iowa - “Summer home sustains $100K in damage after lightning strike”
  • Kentucky - “Two die after lightning starts fire in home” 
  • Maine - “Lightning starts fire that destroys home”
  • Minnesota - “Crews battle fire after lightning strikes home”
  • Mississippi - “28 years of memories destroyed in house fire; lightning suspected as cause”
  • Nebraska - “Lightning fire ruins house, forces family to evacuate”
  • Pennsylvania “Family thankful for their lives after lightning fire destroys home”
  • South Carolina - “Lightning strike burns house”
  • Texas - “Cats killed in house fire believed to have been caused by lightning strike”
  • Utah - “Witnesses report lightning strikes nearby before massive fire burns home”
  • Washington - “'The whole room lit up:' man recalls moments when lightning struck his house”

Design and Installation Considerations

Lightning protection systems require a whole-building approach in accordance with nationally-recognized standards, including LPI 175, NFPA 780, and UL 96A.

The standards require multiple conductive paths to safely carry intense lightning surges between the sky and ground. This includes strategically located air terminals (lightning rods) at high points and on the roof, ground electrodes, and a network of heavy-duty lightning conductors to safely conduct current between them.

To equalize electrical potential, the lightning protection system must be bonded to the building’s plumbing, HVAC, structure; its grounding must be interconnected to grounds for the building’s electrical and other systems. In addition, surge protection devices must be added to telephone, power, and other services entering the building.

 

In new constructions, conductor cables will be concealed inside attics and within walls. If lightning protection is being retrofitted to an existing building, it may be most economical for some conductors to be exposed on the roof or exterior walls. These can be aligned with the natural edges and architectural lines of your home and will not detract from its appearance. Rooftop air terminals are slender and inconspicuous when seen from the ground; alternatively, decorative elements like spires or ornamental metal fabrications can be used as strike termination devices to add stylistic accents. 

Design and installation should be performed by individuals certified by the Lightning Protection Institute. For added assurance, installations should be certified by the LPI-Inspection Program to assure systems comply with nationally recognized standards and function as required. To make sure your lightning protection system remains in working order, have it inspected by a qualified lightning protection specialist every two to five years.

View Examples

Click here to see a gallery of single family homes with lightning protection systems.

Final Thoughts

A note to Homeowners and Homebuyers

Your home is your castle. Fortify it against lightning - one of the most violent threats of nature.

A Note to Designers, Builders, and Real Estate Professionals

In today’s climate of uncertainty, homebuyers are looking for increased security and resilience. Answer that need by offering a lightning protection system as an upgrade, the same way you already offer other enhanced security systems, backup generators, smart home controls, and other amenities.

Ready to implement a lightning protection system in your building?

Our team of experts can help guide you through the process. Get started today!

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for architects & Design professionals:

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for building & Home owners:

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visit www.sls-us.com to learn about their suite of lightning solutions for special applications

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