My sister recently had a bolt of lightning hit very near to her house. She
lost a number of electronic appliances as a result. My initial thought is
that she may not have a good ground for her house. I'm wondering if there
is a way to test it or is it mostly just a visual thing? As well, are whole
house surge protectors good for this type of application? I suspect not but
thought I'd ask. I'm in a high lightning area (2nd highest number in this
state, FL is no. 1) and really don't have any trees nearby so I'm beginning
to think maybe a separate ground system just for lightning protection might
make sense. Obviously I'd locate the ground rod as far away from the house
ground but I'm wondering if this makes sense?
On Wed, 5 Jul 2006 21:01:33 -0600, "James \\"Cubby\\" Culbertson"
Surges that blow up electronics will not be stopped by a lightning rod
The first thiung you have to do is fix your house grounding system.
Make sure you have a solid ground electrode system. That will be metal
water piping, within 5 feet of entering the house, supplimented with
at least one ground rod or other electrode.
This gets connected to your power panel grounding bus (although it may
really land in the meter). The next thing you have to do is be sure
the telaphone and cable company is bonded to your ground electrode
They should have protectors in their Dmark and you should have a whole
house protector in your panel. If you are really in a lightning area I
would also advise point of use protectors at your TV, Computer and
whatever else you want to keep, particularly the stuff with more than
one cable going into it. Make sure your point of use protector catches
all of those cables (TV, phone and power).
As ghetwell said you should go over everything, even test outlets to be
sure they are wired properly. After I was hit a few times and loosing
tens of thousands in electronics I put in a panel Lightning arrestor,
panel surge protector, and individual outlet supressors. But dont buy
the cheap HD stuff, there are ratings on their worth, such as nanosecond
clamping time and product warrantys on lightning protection. Look at
Trip Light, they have good products that work quick, absorbe a fair
amount and have a lightning warranty. But no matter what you do
lightning can bypass all but the best commercial equipment set ups, even
the air charge can blow out equipment. Your best habit is unplugging
what is sensitive or have a switched outlet on specific areas you want
to protect and use surge protection
main house ground MUST be bonded to lightning arrestor ground, the kind
that has wire on top of home to dissapate strikes. install main service
panel surge protection for sure, those cheap terminal strips are just
that cheap wanabee junk.
if you have anything really sensitive plug into UPS, some come with a
complete warranty to cover anything that gets zapped.
no matrtewr what you do lightning will fry stuff if the hit is close
make certain cable, satellite, phone, power panel, and everything else
are firmly tied together.
otherwise a close hit can kill! by disimmiar ground voltages
I built radio equipment shelters for two years. Our shelters were
struck many times without any damage to the equipment inside. Lightning
damage is not inevitable. You just have to be willing to invest the
effort to install effective protection.
"This alternating current stuff is just a fad. It is much too dangerous
A good resource is your local code enforcement office. We
learned the hard way that a lightning hit, IF it uses the house
wiring to get to earth, or vice-versa, can cause the earth rod to
lose its conductivity to earth. Apparently it affects the earth
for a radius ofa 6 or 8 feet or so because they moved our ground
rod about twelve feet over and drove a new one. We wouldn't have
noticed it except for 220V equipment that started acting up due
to the lack of a good earth ground reference between the two 110
"phases" (US). The new rod fixed all the problems.
Our local code enforcement is the one referred us to a good
electrician who came out and figured it out in about 5 minutes.
That was after three guys from the yellow pages who were just
"electricians"; this guy was an inspector and knew what to look
for apparently. The only thing he charged us for was the rod and
some cable to the meter. The other folks wanted to start tearing
things apart. I'm glad I resisted.
A lightning strike could well affect the soil conductivity around the
grounding electrode(s) aka ground rods, but that will not cause problems
with 220V appliances. The ground is *not* the reference for the 110V
power, the neutral is and that comes from the distribution transformer
on the pole (or pad). The ground and neutral are bonded at the service
panel, but the ground is *not* a substitute in any way for the neutral
from the transformer.
Hmm, you're right, of course. I think, logically anyway. Maybe
he did more work than I realized or was aware of, but ... .
If there was no earth, it would float, and since it's tied to
Neutral in the box ... and since the transformer's ... ouch;
brain ache! The problems were apparent out in the barn, about
100 ft away from the box. House itself didn't show Neutral
problems per sae, but the air pump & water pump would show up in
the house incandescents but not wildley;
Oof! I quit!
Ok. So now you've got me thinking a bit here. On my sister's house,
she's connected to city water and I've not looked to see where the pipe
enters from the street vs. where the electrical service/ground is. Would
the best bet be to tie the two together assuming she has a dedicated ground
near the meter? Obviously, if the two were close together, this wouldn't be
a good thing. On my house, I'm on a well and the pipe coming in is
approx. 15 feet or so from the rod driven into the ground near the meter.
My gas supply/meter is very near that water line. Would it do any good to
connect the dedicated ground to the water line that runs out to the well
especially being so close to the gas meter? I do plan to upgrade my
service and when I do I'll add the whole house surge protector and possibly
a lightning arrestor but it appears the best prevention is a good ground.
Thanks for the advice.
The best information I have seen on surge protection is at
- the title is "How to protect your house and its contents from
lightning: IEEE guide for surge protection of equipment connected to AC
power and communication circuits"
- it was published by the IEEE in 2005 (the IEEE is the dominant
organization of electrical and electronic engineers in the US)
A second reference is
- this is the "NIST recommended practice guide: Surges Happen!: how to
protect the appliances in your home"
- it is published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology,
the US government agency formerly called the National Bureau of
Standards in 2001
Both guides were intended for wide distribution to the general public to
explain surges and how to protect against them. The IEEE guide was
targeted at people who have some (not much) technical background. Read
one (or both) to understand surges and protection.
Includes service panel protector, plug-in protector, system ground,
single point ground.
Note that when using a plug-in surge suppressor and a device, like a
computer, has connections other than power, like a phone line, they have
to be connected through the surge suppressor also. This type of
suppressor is called a surge reference equalizer (SRE) by the IEEE (also
described by the NIST). The idea is that all wires connected to the
device (power, phone, CATV, LAN, ...) are clamped to the common ground
at the SRE. The voltage on all wires passing through the SRE to the
protected device are held to a voltage safe to the device.
On Wed, 5 Jul 2006 21:01:33 -0600, "James \\"Cubby\\" Culbertson"
My house was hit by lightning back in 48. Everyone that lived there
was killed. I still recall my own funeral was held 3 days later,
because my penis exploded from the overheated urine, and aunt
Gertrude's breasts exploded from pressure of the the boiling milk. It
was horrible to see. The insurance adjuster blamed the deaths on the
lightning bolt. It turned out the lightning bolt was not grounded.
God was charged with murder and found guilty. They are still trying
to get him in prison but he always escapes the second they capture
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