I live out here in Central Florida, lightning capitol of the country, and
want to install some lightning protection. I have googled around and
listened to the home shows. Was wondering if any of you folks out there have
any suggestions on what to buy or not to buy....thanks in advance....Ross
When I was a kid, and a thunderstorm interfered with the TV reception,
my brothers used to strip me naked, strap a tv antenna to my head and
make me go stand outside.
I only got hit once or twice, that I can remember.
Time for a trip to the library. Your looking for UL96A at least that is what
it was called.
Lightning protection that does not carry a master label is not worth much
and can be more problems than with out it. Best check with your insurance
agent on this.
You know; if you manage to get a strike your looking at a sacrificial
Just like surge protectors it will work once.
This has some interesting data.
A google search will find 20 or so companies that if you send them a drawing
of the structure and the surrounding area, they will design and sell you the
products. It is not all that hard nor is it that expensive to install as
long as you do not mind getting close the edges.
The only house that I have even work on that had been hit was a total loss
electrically. It had lightning rods, and surge protectors installed by the
utility. They had an iron clad guarantee if you had this stuff installed. I
was hired to rip out the drywall and completely rewire the home. All of the
copper pipes were fused so the plumber was jack hammering up the concrete as
well. All of the stucco had to be removed cause all of the staples holding
the lath to the studs had dissolved and the outside looked like chicken pox.
I am pretty sure that a bull dozer and starting over from scratch would not
have been all that much more expensive.
If you are serious, you have this professionally done. Why? Because
most of home owners are use to seeing nothing more thatn 4 awg as a
ground for our electrical system, and misconcieve that for lightning
protection. It isn't and the pro's use monster sized cables. Reason
I heard for that, is because a lightning rod is working 24/7 and it's
constantly hit with static charge, even if you don't see it. static
electricity(lightning) is a very high frequency, so it tends to travel
over the surface of conductors, leading to the use of braded high
So, like I said, seek professional services, and check with your local
bbb, and chamber of commerce for references, and background checks.
tom @ www.BookmarkAdmin.com
This system looks great to me. I will have to check if I can put one of
these things up, since I live on a golf course, they have a big ole set of
rules as you can imagine...but hey, thanks so much for the great info and I
will post after I contact them....thanks again, Ross
And right in the neighborhood we have a company doing something
Whether you buy this technology or not, I'm sure seeing a lot of it
installed on commercial and high-end residential housing in the Tampa
Bay area. A few weeks ago I saw some in Orlando on hotels along I-4
near the Colonial Drive exit. Look for the "flying saucers on a pole".
I'm not sure what the answer is but I need some protection, too. Last
summer two tall White Pine trees got struck in my front yard. Although
the house wasn't hit, I lost a computer router (cable modem was OK), the
DVD player part of my VCR/DVD/CD machine (CD and VCR were OK), and a TV set.
So, the pine trees didn't serve as lightning rods and they were struck.
Lightning rods have a sharp point and electric fields concentrate on
conductors with the smallest radius of curvature. Lightning rods are
supposed to passively and continuously discharge the fields, avoiding a
strike. So we need more effective protection.
Other observers have noted that white pines appear to be
superior lightning rods. However you define electronics
damage from another part of the lightning strike circuit.
Learn lessons from campers. Lightning strike the tree near
their camp site. Those campers sleeping tangent to the tree
were OK. Two campers sleeping pointed to the tree were
seriously hurt. No again we must understand the electrical
Lightning builds a conductor between earth borne and cloud
borne charges. It the shortest path from cloud five miles to
those charges? Of course not. Electrically shortest path is
three miles directly down to that tree. Then four miles
through earth to those charges.
Where campers were sleeping tangent, the current passed
underneath them. Where campers were sleeping point, current
rose up from earth at the feet, passed through body, and
reentered earth at the head.
This also applies to your building. It is why we want all
utilities to enter at one common point - the single point
earth ground. With utilities enters from opposite directions,
then lightning rises up from the earth, takes a shorter
electrical path through household appliances, then drops back
down to earth at other end of building.
White pines did their job. They earthed the incoming
lightning strike. But we humans still build new homes as if
the transistor did not exist. You have demonstrated how
humans create lightning damage to household appliances.
A figure from the National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST - the government standards agency)
demonstrate what may be your problem. Their figure shows how
improperly earthing causes damage to a fax machine:
So what should you do in a thunderstorm. Experts recommend
keeping your feet together so that lightning need not find a
shorter path up one leg and down the other. Meantime, review
how your house is earthed to avoid future damage.: Learn much
starting (and this is only introductory) with this from a
Experiments have demonstrated your pointed rod explanation
is incorrect. Furthermore lightning rods don't discharge the
air to avoid lightning strikes. You will be hard pressed to
find a single peer reviewed paper that makes that claim.
Lightning rods have always been about shunting. Shunt the
direct strike into a path that is not destructive. Nothing
stops, blocks, dissipates, or absorbs such surges. And yet we
routinely suffer direct lightning strikes without damage.
How? We shunt - earth the direct strike. Give it what it
wants without putting good household appliances or church
steeples in that path.
"William W. Plummer" wrote:
I was surprised when these 'protectors' starting showing up on new
construction here in the Tampa area. At first I thought they were
either rain gauge senders or maybe GPS antennas, but I couldn't figure
out why they were being installed so high up. On St. Pete Beach there
is one on a condo that must be 40 or 50 feet above the roof line. I
guess it needs to be that high to provide a zone of protection? Most of
the homes here have them in the center of the house about 15 feet or so
above the roof line. From an asthetic point of view they probably
aren't as nice looking as a collection of simple roof mounted rods, but
then maybe the improved protection would be worth it. If you were a
ham radio operator or a scanner buff I suppose you could mount a small
yagi on the side of the pole and have a dual-use structure.
Let us know what you decide to do.
Materials are not the big issue. Installation practices are the snake
in that brush and it is poisonous. Do a reasonable amount of research
and you will be able to answer your own materials questions. Some of
the issues you will want to be up to speed on on are; side flash, common
system bonding, and secondary damage caused by installation. If you do
not learn these and other issues and the effective techniques to abate
them you may make your situation worse rather than better.
In defiance of conventional DIY wisdom that anyone can do the job with a
few paragraphs of advice from Usenet or a magazine article I will warn
you that having a fully effective lightning protection system will take
a serious investment on your part. You can either invest the large
amount of time that is necessary to learn the fundamentals of system
installation or you can invest the larger amount of money to have it
done by folks who have already done the training. To put it another way
you can have it cheap, fast, good, but you can only have two of them in
any given job.
Hiring Pro's on this one Tom and thanks for your advice...I was more
interested in the best system...then I will contract it out....My days up on
a roof are drawing to a close...take care and thanks, Ross
Extensive review by a team of lightning protection scientist coordinated
by the National Institute of Standards and Technology concluded that the
claims of such systems are based on junk science and that they do not
perform better than Franklin air terminal systems The one thing that I
can say they perform better on is the profit margins of the firms that
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