Do people still use lightning rods?

Yes. In fact, more lightning protection systems are installed now than ever before. Today’s lightning protection systems are inconspicuous. Since buildings today are equipped with many sensitive electronic systems, planners tend to include lightning protection systems not only to protect the structure but also to help protect the electronic systems and to keep the buildings… Read more »

Don’t lightning rods attract lightning?

No. This common misconception dates back to Ben Franklin’s day. Lightning rods simply intercept a lightning strike and provide adequate pathways to safely conduct the lightning to the ground. If lightning is zeroed in on a particular location, it will strike that location, whether there is lightning protection in place or not. It is helpful… Read more »

What do lightning rods look like?

In most cases unless you are looking for the lightning rods you can’t notice them. Lightning rods are just 12 inches tall and 3/8” in diameter. That’s not much bigger than a pencil. Placed on a roof that is 30 –50 feet high and 18 inches in from the roof edge, the rods are barely… Read more »

If there is a steel frame in a building is it already safe?

The structural steel of a building does conduct lightning, but you need a lightning protection system to provide the necessary interconnections to make sure that the lightning is able to pass harmlessly through the building. Without the lightning protection system, when a building is struck the lightning attempts to find a path to ground. If… Read more »

What are the odds of a building getting hit anyway?

There are satellites that monitor lightning activity all over the world. This activity is charted and provides statistics that tell just how often lightning strikes any given area. At any given moment there are 2000 thunderstorms happening somewhere in the world. The earth experiences 100 lightning flashes per second. The US alone has more than… Read more »

How much does lightning protection cost?

Cost varies greatly depending on the location of the structure, its size, its construction, the complexity of the roof-line and the ground conditions. Costs are lower when the system is designed and installed during construction. Retrofitting a system, is very common, but tends to be slightly more expensive. In comparison with other building systems, such… Read more »

Doesn’t the electrician take care of this?

Lightning protection does not fall under the expertise of most electricians. Lightning rods have their own NFPA standard that is separate from the National Electric Code that electricians are trained on. Lightning protection work should be performed by a lightning protection specialty contractor. ECLE recommends using a firm that works full-time on lightning protection; These… Read more »

Do I have to have all those cables running all over the roof?

Some cables are inevitable, but if the system is installed during construction much of the system can be run under the roof, leaving just the air terminals exposed. The structural steel of a building can often be used in lieu of conductors. This also limits the number of roof conductors that you will see.

What types of buildings need lightning protection?

Any structure is a good candidate for lightning protection. All buildings are subject to lightning damage. The NFPA 780 Risk Assessment guide is a useful tool in evaluating a structure’s vulnerability to lightning damage. A structures use and contents are as much a consideration as location and construction when determining lightning risk. It is commonplace… Read more »