Why is lightning protection so important? The function of an external lightning protection system is to intercept, conduct and disperse a lightning strike safely to earth. Without such a system a building’s structure, electronic systems and the people working around or within it are all at risk.
Lightning protection systems are designed to protect your business and your assets from the destruction caused by lightning strikes. Each year thousands of buildings and businesses are damaged by lightning strikes. Lightning current often peaks at 100,000 or more Amperes. With that in mind, consider if you have a lightning protection system installed, and your house is hit directly by lightning. If the protection system takes even 99.9% of the current, then your electrical wiring may take the remaining 0.1%.
Lightning does have an important role in nature. Lightning strikes help dissolve this unusable nitrogen in water, which then creates a natural fertilizer that plants can absorb through their roots. Lightning also produces ozone, a vital gas in our atmosphere that helps shield the planet from rays of harmful ultraviolet sunlight.
With a power of 300 kilovolts, lightning can heat the air up to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This combination of power and heat can cause serious damage to the human body. Being struck by lightning may lead to burns, rupturing of the eardrum, eye damage, cardiac arrest, and respiratory arrest.
It’s without a doubt that a well designed protection is something that any business will benefit from. To be able to better understand the problem and the risks, it is beneficial to know the basics of how lightning and lightning protection works in general. Lightning is basically an electrostatic discharge that occurs from cloud-to-cloud, on the inside of clouds, and from the cloud to the ground. The problem comes in when a lightning strike makes a direct hit to a building. The surge of electricity from a lightning strike can spread throughout the whole building causing damage to fuses and potentially any electronic devices that were plugged in at the time.
A proper protection system is designed to safely transfer the electrical energy from a lightning via alternative paths away from the building and into the ground for a safer discharged. The purpose of a commercial lightning protection system is not to completely prevent lightning from striking, this isn’t really possible. Rather, the purpose is to provide a path of low resistance for the lightning to travel through without causing damage to the building. The major components of a commercial lightning protection system include lightning rods, conductor cables, and grounding rods.
It is important to make sure that a commercial protection system complies with all codes and standards of the Lightning Protection Institute, National Fire Protection Association, and Underwriters Laboratories and that it is installed by a reputable and certified company, such as Northeast Lightning Protection.