Lightning Protection FAQ

Do's and Don'ts for Lightning Safety

A typical lightning bolt can pack as much as 30 million volts of power. Increases in utilities, expensive electronic equipment and metal building components have made today's structures especially vulnerable to lightning damage. A properly installed lightning protection system which meets U.S. Safety Standards (NFPA and UL) will provide a safe path to the earth for lightning's destructive energy. The three main components for complete lightning protection are:

  1. The Lightning Protection System (Lightning Rods):
    This interconnected system consists of air terminals (rods), conductor (cable), bonding and grounding, designed to protect a structure and its occupants.
  2. Lightning Arresters:
    These devices are installed on the electric service panel to prevent dangerous high voltage from entering a structure through the incoming wires. The arrester works as a filter to defray incoming voltage, thus preventing a lightning-induced electrical fire or explosion.
  3. Surge Suppressors:
    These are installed between the appliance or computer and the electrical outlet to provide point-ofentry surge suppression from lightning induced power surges. Structures which contain sensitive electronic equipment may require a series of individual surge suppressors. Surge suppressors are not a required component of UL-approved lightning protection system and can be implemented with the lightning protection system at the owner's discretion or per the installer's recommendations.

Do lightning rods attract lightning?

Definitely not! Lightning rods do not attract or prevent lightning strikes. A lightning protection system simply intercepts a lightning strike and provides a path into the ground to harmlessly discharge the dangerous electricity.

Do nearby trees protect structures from lightning?

No! Trees are actually very poor conductors of electricity. Lightning striking a nearby tree could sideflash, causing serious damage to your home. Valuable trees can be protected and are often made part of the lightning protection system.

Do TV antennas and satellite dishes protect structures from lightning?

No! These are actually lightning targets that are not adequately grounded to safely handle the dangerous lightning current. Whenever possible, old antennas which serve no useful purpose should be removed from a structure.

Can surge arresters, suppressors and "whole-house protectors" protect my home?

No! Surge suppressors are important components of a complete system, but can do nothing to protect a structure against direct lightning strikes. Arresters must be installed in conjunction with a lightning protection system (air terminals, bonding and grounding) to provide whole house protection.

Doesn't our insurance cover damages caused by lightning?

While this is generally true for an initial occurrence with lightning, many insurance companies will deny second or third lightning claims and many will nonrenew a policy after a lightning claim is entered.

Am I safe if my home is in a low lying area?

No! Lightning frequently strikes in low areas as well as in higher elevations.

Do lightning rods look unsightly?

Definitely not! Modern lightning protection systems are inconspicuous and virtually undetectable. An experienced lightning protection contractor will design your system to blend with your architecture— aesthetics are never compromised.

Do lightning rods require routine maintenance?

No! Lightning protection systems are constructed of durable materials that are likely to outlast most other fixtures on your home. No maintenance is required unless changes are made to your structure or roof.

Are lightning rods expensive?

No! Lightning protection is one of the least expensive improvements you can purchase for your home and it offers the best type of insurance—peace of mind and proven protection for your family, home and valuables. It's a big return on a small investment.

Is Your Property At Risk?

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.)