How Does Lightning Protection Work?
The main purpose for a lightning protection system is to route the electrical energy from a lightning strike to a less destructive path to ground, rather than letting it travel through the building’s structure, electrical wiring, pipes where it would create a havoc.
Lightning rods or air terminals are the topmost element of a lightning protection system where the initial contact between the lightning strike and system occurs. Therefore the lightning rods are strategically installed on the roof, chimneys or other elevated areas. Highly conductive copper and aluminum materials are used in a lightning protection system that provides a low resistance path to safely ground lightning’s dangerous electricity. The lightning strike is intercepted and directed to ground without impacting the structure, occupants or contents of the property.
What does a lightning protection system consist of?
A lightning protection system includes a network of air terminals, bonding conductors, and ground electrodes designed to provide a low impedance path to ground for potential strikes.
The dissipation of a lightning strike requires correct system design, installation in accordance with UL 96A, NFPA 780 and all listed components correctly installed and connected to earth. The installation must be designed to protect the entire structure not just a small portion or section of the structure.
The main attribute common to all lightning rods is that they are all made of conductive materials, such as copper and aluminum. Copper and its alloys are the most common materials used in lightning protection.
A well-designed, properly installed Lightning protection systems mitigates the fire hazard which lightning strikes pose to structures. A lightning protection system provides a low-impedance path for the lightning current to lessen the heating effect of current flowing through flammable structural materials. If lightning travels through porous and water-saturated materials, these materials may literally explode if their water content is flashed to steam by heat produced from the high current. This is why trees are often shattered by lightning strikes.