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Lightning Protection Systems For Homes

A good rule of thumb for homeowners is that if fire is something they are concerned about, if their home is regularly unoccupied (a vacation home perhaps) or if the loss of electronics in the home is of concern, then a lightning protection system is worth the investment.


Lightning Protection Systems For Homes

Protect your family and property

Your home should protect the things you value most. That’s why you lock your doors at night, and why you should be prepared at all times for lightning storms.

Lightning is one of the most violent forces of nature. It causes fires, structural damage, injuries, and can destroy household electronics.

While a homeowner’s insurance policy can reimburse you for financial losses caused by a lightning strike, a residential lightning protection system turns your home into a true shelter. 

If you are one of the growing numbers of people working from home, a lightning strike can also harm your livelihood or even force you out of business.

What is involved with protecting a home from lightning?

Lightning protection systems for homes require more than just a single air terminal (lightning rod) on the roof. Even a small building must have multiple air terminals and earth electrodes (grounds). Between the roof and ground there also must be conductors to provide multiple safe pathways for the ultra-high voltage lightning to follow.  Metallic systems such as plumbing, electrical wiring and structural framework in the building must be bonded to the lightning protection system, and surge protection devices must be installed on all electrical and communication lines entering the home.

The system must be designed and installed according to nationally recognized consensus standards such as NFPA 780 and UL96A.  Additionally, the system components must be manufactured by a company, like ECLE, that is listed by UL for compliance with the rigorous ANSI/CAN/UL 96 - Standard for Lightning Protection Components.

To learn more about the elements of a lightning protection system, click here.


How do I know if my house needs lightning protection?

A good rule of thumb for homeowners is that if fire is something they are concerned about, if their home is regularly unoccupied (a vacation home perhaps) or if the loss of electronics in the home is of concern, then a lightning protection system is worth the investment.

Most lightning fires are the result of a direct strike to the roof of a structure.  Most homes' roofs are primarily wood framed and fires that start on the roof and work their way down, generally are pretty involved before fire alarms and sprinklers (if installed) are triggered.  Thus, lightning fires are rarely put out as quickly as say a kitchen fire might be.

If you are concerned about the risk that lightning poses to your home, you can use a simple online tool to conduct a Lightning Risk Assessment.  The tool uses guidelines from National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 780 – Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems.

The assessment takes into account risk factors such as a building’s size, height, surroundings, and construction materials, and the frequency of lightning strikes in your region. It compares this to your vulnerability determined by the ease of evacuating the building and the consequences you might experience due to the loss of your home and its contents. If, for example, young children or someone with limited mobility lives in the house, or you have valuable artwork and antiques, you may have increased vulnerability.

The app then calculates your risks and advises you about whether or not a lightning protection system should be used.


Professional Installation is a Must

The proper design and installation of a lightning protection system is outside of the typical expertise held by electricians, roofers and general contractors.  Even some local building inspectors know little about lightning protection systems.  Lightning protection should only be installed by a firm that specializes in these systems and that has trained its employees on the requirements of UL96A and NFPA780 requirements.  For recommendations to qualified lightning protection specialists in your area, contact ECLE.


How will lightning protection affect my home’s appearance and value?

Lightning protection systems can be designed to compliment every style of home. They also add value to the property in the same way that any household security system or safety devices can make a house more appealing.

An investment in lightning protection can last for many generations with little maintenance. Additions and modifications to your home may require changes to the lightning protection system. Discuss this with your local lightning protection contractor and ask for inspections every few years to make sure the system is working as required.

Practice Lightning Safety

“When thunder roars, go indoors!” That is the advice of the National Weather Service and community safety agencies. As soon as you hear lightning or see a lightning flash, go into a fully enclosed building and stay away from windows, plumbing fixtures, and telephone lines.  If a building is not nearby, take shelter in a car or vehicle with a metal roof, close the windows, and do not touch any of the vehicle’s electrical switches. If no shelter is available, stay away from trees and other elevated objects.  It is recommended that you stay inside until at least 30 minutes after you last hear thunder or see lightning.

For more lightning safety tips, see the National Weather Service website.

For lightning safety educational materials for children, click here.

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