Lightning protection | Living the Country Life

Lightning protection

Don't let your buildings get zapped

A flash of lightning that strikes a building on the farm can cause a lot of damage. One volt can pack up to 300-million volts of electricity. In comparison, your household current handles 120-volts.

Kim Loehr is the communications director for the Lightning Protection Institute. She says a lightning bolt is just looking for a path to the ground. If there isn’t a lightning protection system in place to direct that massive energy without interruption, you’re asking for trouble.

"Say lightning hits something like a weather vane, or a rooftop apparatus. Well that might be a conductive metal, but then when it travels on its way to try to meet ground and hits brick or wood which is not conductive, that’s where you see the resistance and that’s where you end up seeing fire or damage," says Loehr.

At points along that path, the electricity from a strike might jump from wiring to plumbing, with the current side-flashing to objects such as appliances, water lines, or even people and animals.

Loehr says a lightning protection system will keep your property safe.

"Lightning rods, which are actually called strike termination devices, conductors that take the lightning to the ground. Fittings, bonding, which reduces potential differences, and grounding which is super important," says Loehr. "That’s where it directs the current safely underground where it won’t impact the structure. And then, you also need surge protection devices."
Loehr says a team of experts meets every three-years to review lightning protection safety standards. In recent years, they’ve addressed lightning protection for new technologies such as wind turbines and “smart” structures.

Learn more about lightning protection for farms

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