Lightning hits the highest object it can find. A lightning rod provides a high point for lightning to strike, and the cable attached to the rod conducts the lightning safely to the ground and away from the building.
A typical lightning rod is required to extend ten inches above the ridge or object being protected and is made of copper or aluminum. Braided copper or aluminum conductor joins a series of these rods together and is installed along the ridge and down opposite corners of the building. This conductor forms a path to ground in at least two locations. A well-installed lightning protection system is barely noticeable from the ground. We take special care to ensure that the system is installed as attractively as possible, and we will work with the owner to determine precise locations of down conductors. See residential lightning protection.
A typical residential lightning protection system ranges from $3,000 to $10,000 depending on the size, shape, and construction of the building. Commercial properties vary tremendously. For an exact quote contact us.
To properly install a lightning protection system requires knowledge of the standards, a familiarity with the materials, the right tools, and experience. We recommend that only UL listed installers of lightning protection systems and persons certified as Master Installer/Designers by the Lightning Protection Institute be chosen to install these systems. As of January 2008, Smokestack Lightning employs the only master installer/designers of lightning protection in Massachusetts.
Anyone hiring a lightning protection installer should ask for proof of workers’ compensation and general liability insurance.
For a typical residential building the installation can be completed in less than two weeks. The time frame changes dramatically with new construction or with commercial projects. In the case of new construction we recommend that you contact us as soon as possible for the most efficient installation. For a concealed system in a new construction project we will be adding portions of the lightning protection system throughout the duration of the project.
No, lightning rods only act as the new “highest point” where lightning will make contact. Lightning protection does not attract lightning and it will not protect your neighbors’ homes, people outside the building, or trees in your yard.
A lightning protection system will last until there are any major changes to the building structure. We recommend that the owner occasionally inspect the system for obvious damage, and we will gladly inspect any lightning protection system.
An electrical ground does not protect a building from lightning damage. In the event of a lightning strike the lightning will seek the easiest path to ground, which, without a lightning protection system, may mean traveling through electrical wires, phone wires, or roof, chimney, and other components of a building not designed to conduct the millions of volts involved in a lightning strike.
An electrical ground only offers grounding for the normal electrical service within the home. The wires that travel to the outlets and light fixtures are not capable of safely transferring a lightning charge.
Early Streamer Emissions systems are specially designed lightning rods that claim to either attract or dispel lightning over significant areas, hundreds of feet. These systems have been proven to function only as well as standard lightning rods, and despite the advertising to the contrary they are unable to attract or dispel lightning from long distances. A manufacture of this system was determined to be guilty of false advertising. See ESE injunction and judgment.
Most homeowners’ insurance policies include coverage for lightning damage; however, we have seen insurance companies raise premiums or threaten to end a policy unless the insured party shows a UL Master Label Certificate for a completed lightning protection system.
There are many codes and standards for the installation of lightning protection, but the three primary standards are National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 780, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 96A, and Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) 175.
Surge suppression involves installing devices on the incoming electrical, phone, and cable lines entering the building. These electrical devices divert surges that come into the building from a direct lightning strike or a strike to the surrounding property or electric wires. These devices minimize damage to the buildings’ electronics by diverting surges that come from the power distribution company, or through the power lines.
Most surge suppression manufacturers claim that their surge suppression devices will eliminate at least 80% of any incoming surges. It is for this reason that we recommend multiple levels of protection. We recommend installing surge suppression devices on the lines entering the building, at electrical sub panels, and at the outlets with surge suppression power strips.
For a complete UL Master Label lightning protection system, surge suppression devices are required for all incoming service lines. These devices offer protection for the electrical system, the phone system, the cable line, and any other attached electronics. For optimal protection we recommend installing surge suppression devices on the main electrical panels, the sub panels, and at critical points of use.