Do lightning rods really work?

Yes. The NFPA has maintained a standard for lightning protection for 100 years. The standard is continually updated and edited to incorporate new findings. For example, in the last few years, sharp-tipped lightning rods have been replaced by blunt or round-tipped rods in NFPA requirements. This is the result of field research at New Mexico Tech that has proven that blunt tipped rods are always successful in capturing a lightning discharge in comparison to a sharp tipped rod. The NFPA’s standard is based on the same practices and principles as standards for lightning protection all over the world.

The FAA, NASA, Dept of Energy, and DoD typically do not build any structures without lightning protection systems. In fact, there was a federal report issued in 2004 that reviewed the technical validity of lightning protection and concluded that lightning protection systems are critical to protecting our national infrastructure. The American Meteorological Society issued a similar paper in early 2003.