Lightning Protection Systems
Lightning Protection Systems
Not much thought goes into an actual lightning protection system. People observe lightning all the time but seldom consider their homes or businesses being struck by lightning or the loss of life that can accompany it. Did you know that a Lightning bolt has an electrical charge of roughly 100 million volts and the heat generated in the path of a lightning strike gets more than 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit? That’s approximately 5 times hotter than the surface of our sun.
Lightning reportedly causes over 10,000 forest fires to start each year in the United States. The energy discharged by a Lightning strike is so intense that it can melt sand where it strikes and turns the sand into glass. These glass tubes that are formed are called fulgurite.
The only way to protect your home, investment and the lives of you or your loved ones is with a properly installed lightning protection system. No other form of protection works properly and many people and companies have tried to either harness or repel lightning before it strikes, but their efforts have been ineffective. The only effective means is providing a safe path to ground for the lightning strike.
There are more lightning strikes occurring in the United States each year than many people realize. Detection instruments and scientists have estimated that lightning strikes somewhere in the US over 24 million times a year and it kills an average of 73 people. That is just deaths; more than 700 people are seriously injured. Tornadoes kill approximately 68 people a year and hurricanes kill about 16 people a year in the U.S. About 10% of the people that are struck by lightning are killed while the other 90% are left with long term effects and problems such as migraines, headaches, seizures and mood disorders, numbness and possibly more. If you are listening to a radio and static starts to occur that can mean that lightning is about to strike (either the radio station or near you).
Lightning protection cable is specific and manufactured to work correctly for the millions of volts that lightning produces. Just using a large copper cable instead of proper Class I conductor cable will not work in a lightning protection system. Lightning conductor cable is specified to contain at least 32 strands and each strand needs to be 17 gauge (for copper cable) (24 strand, 14 gauge for aluminum). The entire cable must be woven or braided as the lightning charge travels on the surface of each strand. The cable must be specified as 65,000 circular mils of conductivity.
This type and quality of cable can not be obtained at a local building center or hardware store. The cable must be bare and never coated or painted. That would defeat the whole purpose of the correct conductor cable. Trying to save yourself some money on buying the incorrect cable will end up causing damage and your insurance will deny your claim if the wrong products are used. A lightning grounding cable needs to be UL certified and approved by the Lightning Protection Institute. Some insurance companies offer a homeowners discount if you have a lightning system installed on your house.