There's Nothing Magical About Good Lightning Protection

A lightning protection system performs a simple task. It provides a specified path on which lightning can travel. When a building is equipped with a lightning protection system the destructive power of the lightning strike is carried safely into the ground, leaving the structure, its contents and its occupants unharmed. A lightning protection system does not attract, repel or prevent a lightning strike. Modern lightning protection systems are installed to blend with the style and materials of a structure, making the system practically undetectable from the ground.

The Primary Components

Lightning protection systems consist of numerous components which are constructed from highly conductive copper or aluminum alloys. A lightning protection system is intended to last the life of the structure it protects and only requires maintenance in the event that the protected building is changed structurally.

A lightning protection system includes all of the following elements, which work together to prevent lightning damage:

  • Air terminals (lightning rods)
  • Conductors (special braided metal cables)
  • Bonding connections to metallic bodies within the structure
  • Ground terminations
  • Surge Suppression
  • Electronic Protection

Modern structures are especially vulnerable to the havoc that lightning can wreak on sensitive electronic equipment. To assure the highest level of protection, UL -listed surge arrestors should be installed on electrical service panels. Arrestors are the first line of defense against the harmful electrical surges that can enter a structure via power transmission lines. By filtering and dissipating the harmful surges, arrestors prevent electrical fires and protect against electrical transient voltage that can damage a building's electrical system. For additional protection, UL-listed transient voltage surge suppressors can be installed to protect specific electronic pieces of equipment. A qualified lightning protection specialist can make recommendations for surge protection that is tailored to the specific needs of a facility.

Quality Counts

It is essential that lightning protection systems are installed by trained, qualified lightning protection specialists. For quality assurance all materials and methods should comply with nationally recognized safety standards for lightning protection as established by Underwriters Laboratories and the National Fire Protection Association.