Lightning Protection for Homes
Facts of Lightning
Lightning is a natural phenomenon caused by separation of electrical positive and negative charges by atmospheric processes. When the voltage difference between separated charges rises, the air between the positive and negative regions breaks down in a giant spark. The resulting current flow ionizes and heats the air along the path to 54,000° F. The ionized air glows brightly (the lightning), and the sudden increase in temperature expands the channel and nearby air, creating a pressure wave that causes the boom of thunder.
- The cloud-to-ground voltages leading to the discharge are tens of millions volts or more.
- The peak discharge currents in each stroke vary from several thousand amperes to 200,000 A or more.
- The current rises to these values in only a few millionths of a second.
- Major part of each stroke usually lasts much less than a thousandth of a second.
- Each visible event, referred to as a flash, typically consists of 1–6 (or more) individual strokes.
- Cloud-ground strokes have been recorded reaching as far as 18.6 miles horizontally from the base of the cloud.
- Cloud-ground flash density in the Gulf Region can reach ~37 flash/mi2 per year.
We often assume lightning damage occurs at the spot where a cloud-ground stroke hits something like a car or a basketball pole or a building. And while damage does occur at the point where a lightning strike first makes contact with a structure or piece of the earth, that’s not the only place in which lightning damage takes place. Because a lightning strike is an electrical current, that current will continue to flow into conductive parts of whatever structure it hits. For instance, if lightning strikes a telephone pole, that current may flow along the telephone wires from one pole to the next for more than a mile. This would cause damage to many telephone poles, even though just one was actually the victim of a direct lightning strike.
How Can Lightning Damage Your Property?
There are four basic ways lightning can damage your property:
- Lightning strikes a network of wires. This refers to the example given above regarding telephone poles. If lightning strikes a network of power, phone or cable wires that are in some way connected up to your home, the electrical current will flow to the equipment in your home and could cause major electrical damage. The same issue can occur if lightning strikes cables or pipes under the ground that can channel the electrical current to equipment at or inside your home.
- Lightning strikes a piece of electrical equipment on your property. This can include striking an air conditioning unit, a satellite dish, exterior lights, an electric dog fence, a home security system or any other similar piece of equipment. If one of these systems is struck by lightning, it will carry the current inside your home through wiring in the same way a telephone pole will carry the current from pole to pole.
- Lightning strikes a large object on your property. These objects don’t have to use electricity. They can include large trees, flagpoles, street signs and more. They don’t even necessarily have to be metal — a known conductor of electricity — as evidenced by the damage lightning can create upon striking a tree. When lightning hits an object like those listed above, it creates an electromagnetic field that can affect wiring inside your house. This produces large voltages that can damage equipment in and around your home.
- Lightning directly strikes your home. This may seem like the most obvious source or lightning damage, but if lightning makes a direct hit on your home, it can severely damage the structure itself in addition to all electronic equipment that may be inside the home.
Home Lightning Protection Systems
LES’s home lightning protection system includes four primary elements:
- Structural lightning protection system. Lightning strikes the tip of the air terminal, and the current flows through the down conductors into the lightning ground system, which is bonded to the building ground.
- Lightning protection on power line point-of-entry: They collect the major part of the lightning currents coming in on external wiring, and direct them harmlessly into the building ground. They also limit the lightning voltages that get inside the building, and greatly reduce the burden on the point-of-use protectors, at the equipment.
- Lightning protection on communication & signal line point-of-entry: They collect the major part of the lightning currents coming in on external wiring, and direct them harmlessly into the building ground. They also limit the lightning voltages that get inside the building, and greatly reduce the burden on the point-of-use protectors, at the equipment.
- Lightning protection at the point-of-use of critical electronic equipment: This marks the final line of protection for vital electronic equipment such as air conditioners, satellite dishes, security systems and more.
Lightning Protection Services
LES, headquartered along the Gulf Coast for 19 years, specializes in designing, installing and maintaining custom lightning protection systems. Their services include not only lightning protection, but surge suppression as well as grounding and bonding systems. LES is the only independent lightning protection company in the Gulf Coast region that has vast experience with every lightning protection technology available, including the conventional, early streamer and static dissipation methods.
What LES can do for your home?
- Site visit: LES will conduct an on-site visit to inquire about your lightning damage concerns and to collect measurements to cater a protection system just for you.
- Report: We write up a report following our visit to log all relevant details and photographs from our home visit. This allows us to determine which system is right for you, and also enables us to give you a price estimate before we install anything.
- Designing the system: Using the written report, we engineer a protection system that best fits your home’s needs.
- Product selection: After we engineer a system, we select components for superior lightning protection.
- Installation: Our group of technicians install your new protection system in an efficient and careful manner.
- Maintenance: We return to your home for yearly inspections to ensure your new lightning protection system is still performing as designed and to its highest possible level.