The Lightning Rod

The Lighting Rod is a metallic rod (usually copper) used to protect from lightning by guiding flashes to the ground. In order to protect against lightning strikes, rods are usually placed on top of structures and on ridges. To connect them to the ground, cables with low impedance are used. Land is the ground for buildings; water is for ships.

The lightning rod was invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1749. Known as lightning attractors or Franklin Rods, they were installed on top of buildings. This invention causes lightning to be drawn to higher metal points, rather than striking the structure.

A large number of homes across the country have Lightning Rods installed, and they are not a thing of the past. A building’s top is protected from lightning by multiple lightning rods. They are no longer visible due to their shorter height.

Buildings are protected by lightning rods and grounding conductors which divert current away from non-conducting parts and allow it to follow the path of least resistance and pass harmlessly. Heat is generated when electricity passes through non-conducting materials, resulting in fire and other damage. Structures less than 30 meters high (about 100 feet) that have a ground radius approximately equal to their height above the ground, will be protected by lightning rods. Taller structures are only protected for 30 meters above ground.

It is a myth that lightning rods attract lightning. That’s not true! As the name implies, a lightning protection system intercepts a lightning strike and allows the electricity to discharge to the ground.

Structures are protected from direct lightning strikes by lightning rods. However, a lightning protection system is capable of preventing fires and harmful electrical surges caused by lightning entering a structure through pipes and wires. It is also necessary to protect gas pipelines from lightning strikes.

What happens to your house when lightning strikes? Around one in every 200 homes is struck by lightning. A number of factors can affect your level of risk, including whether higher structures are nearby (metal light poles can provide some protection), the local climate, etc. Fires can start at any time. The attic insulation is a common place where fires start, as is the ground beneath the roof. Power surges can also damage appliances. Surge protectors don’t protect direct strikes. When lightning strikes, it can produce a shock wave that blows out your windows, damages brick and stone chimneys, and even cracks your foundation.

If you have questions about lightning protection, feel free to contact us.

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