Adapted from an article by the same name, written by W.L. Lloyd, High Voltage Engineering Laboratory, General Electric Company.
YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD that old saying "lightning never strikes twice in the same place." It's a myth. The facts are that lightning can and usually does strike the same place more than once. Since lightning results from a cloud-to-ground attraction, it just makes sense that those conditions which help to create lightning the first time, are bound to bring it back again.
Could your house be vulnerable to the dangers of lightning? If so, what can you do to prevent unnecessary damage or injury?
General Electric has been studying the effects of lightning since the earliest days of electric power transmission. In order to design and build electrical equipment that can resist the harmful effects of lightning, General Electric has attempted to simulate lightning on a smaller scale in the laboratory. Based on these studies, a great deal more is known about lightning today than just a few years ago.
To get a better idea of the awesome power of lightning consider this: A voltage of approximately 100,000 volts is required to make electricity jump one foot. Multiplying that voltage by the span of a typical lightning bolt (thousands of feet—sometimes miles!), we see that lightning has die potential to carry hundreds of millions of volts. The same rate of voltage and current rise with the same current magnitude that is found in natural lightning can be produced in die laboratory. The G.E. laboratory-simulated lightning Today's modern inconspicuous lightning protection systems are installed to blend in with the structure and materials of your home, making the system practically invisible from the ground. melts and vaporizes metal, splits wood, bursts bricks and stones and shatters concrete just like natural lightning does. This is the type of structural damage that a lightning protection system is designed to prevent.
According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and die National Weadier Service, lightning is responsible for several hundred million dollars in damages to property annually in the U.S. All of these losses could have been prevented by lightning rods. Aside from die millions in property damage, lightning is also responsible for numerous deadis and injuries in the United States each year Over die past few decades, we have seen a reduction in these statistics which can be attributed to increased public awareness and education about the dangers of lightning.
During our studies we have examined the protection offered by lightning rods. Although General Electric does not make or sell lightning rods, we have studied their operation in detail. Based on our test and field experience, G.E. has concluded diat a properly designed, installed and grounded lightning rod system provides safe, effective and reliable protection for today's structures. The proper lightning rod system can provide immunity from damage to any structure, regardless of its size, location or construction.
Lightning protection will not prevent your house from being struck by lightning, however it will prevent damage from a strike. The principle is simple. Lightning protection systems are made from materials that conduct electricity easily. A lightning rod system works by receiving the stroke and discharging it quickly and harmlessly to the ground. A lightning protection system is so effective at dissipating the stroke to the ground, that occupants in the protected building are often unaware that the building has even been struck.
Some people believe that trees can offer protection to a nearby structure. This is false. Trees are very poor conductors of electricity and cannot be counted on to provide protection. If a tree near your house is struck by lightning, the destructive current could sideflash or follow a ground voltage route which could cause serious damage to your home. In many cases, property owners will elect to have valuable trees and those considered to be lightning targets, equipped with lightning protection.
Today's homes are especially susceptible
to lightning damage due to the
sensitive electronic equipment that has
become part of our everyday life.
Microwave ovens, televisions, stereo
systems, personal computers, appliances,
security systems and sprinkler
systems are just some of the items that
are susceptible to lightning damage.
The combined technology of lightning
rods (structural protection) and surge
protection (arresters and suppressors
for the electrical service and appliances)
provides today's homes with the
highest level of protection available.
Positioned to project above the roof line, the air terminals are designed to intercept the lightning strike.
Today's modern, inconspicuous lightning protection systems are installed to blend in with the structure and materials of your home, making the system practically invisible from the ground. During the construction phase, a lightning protection system can be concealed within the walls of a home, leaving just the roof top air terminals exposed—which are only 10 inches high.
Since lightning is a unique form of electricity, lightning protection is a highly specialized trade that is governed by industry codes and standards. Only a trained expert should install a lightning protection system. The tiniest spark from an improperly installed system may result in fire, death or injury. Do not attempt to install lightning protection yourself. Nor should you allow your roofer, home contractor, or electrician attempt installation. To ensure proper installation and design, it's imperative that lightning protection installers adhere to the requirements of national safety standards, as established by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI).
Today's homeowners can take advantage of the vast amount of research that has been conducted on lightning and lightning protection. Why not enjoy the security and peace of mind that a properly installed lightning protection system will provide for you and your family? It's an "ounce of prevention" that can save you a "pound of cure."
A properly-installed lightning protection system provides a safe path for lightnings energy to dissipate harmlessly into the ground. A big return on a small investment, lightning protection gives your family peace of mind and increases the value of your property.
President: Jeffrey Galamb, Sr. carries Master Installer Certification, card number 852, from the Lightning Protection Institute. Also, he is a member of IBEW Local # 26, Washington, DC for 35+ years.
Jeffrey Galamb, Sr.’s primary functions are running the estimating department and overseeing all areas of operations from the office, including bidding, billing, and scheduling of projects.
Lightning losses in the homeowner sector are in excess of one billion dollars annually, representing five percent of all residential claims.
Lightning is the only force of nature for which affordable and reliable protection is available.
Does your computer have a phone line? Have you ever lost data from your hard drive due to a power surge? Are your phone lines and cable TV grounded?
Can your insurance fully compensate you for damaged property, lost possessions, personal injury or lifestyle inconvenience due to a fire or surge damage?
Do you currently have smoke alarms or a security system in your house? Do these make you feel safer and give you peace of mind?
Do you or someone in your household/business know CPR in the event someone is struck by lightning?
Do lightning and thunder scare you or your family. Does your pet sense the danger and hide during a storm?
How fast can the Fire Department respond to an emergency at your residence or business?
Are you certain that lightning hasn't already caused damage to your property? (Orange County Utilities in Florida recently learned that copper plumbing pipes are routinely struck by lightning, which can cause gradual pinhole damage.)