Frequently Asked Questions

The most frequently asked questions are listed below to provide you with a better understanding of what Lightning Protection is, clear up some common misconceptions, and raise awareness about the dangers of lightning and the importance of lightning protection.

Please visit the Lightning Protection Institute and the United Lightning Protection Association for additional information.

Q. Are lightning protection systems expensive?
No. Typically, the cost of a lightning protection system is less than 1% of the total cost of the structure. The peace of mind and proven protection is a big return on a relatively small investment.

Anatomy of Lightning

Q. Can modern inventions prevent lightning from striking a building?
No. Lightning is a tremendously powerful, uncontrollable force that will strike when and where conditions are right, much like a hurricane or tornado. Think of lightning protection like a storm cellar – it protects you (and your property) but cannot stop the event from occurring.

Q. Are my lightning surge suppressors and voltage spike protectors all the protection I need from lightning damage?
No. Such devices are an integral part of a complete lightning protection system, but used alone will not protect a structure from lightning damage.

Decorative Air Terminal (aka “Finial” or “Lightning Rod”)

Q. Will the lightning rods make my building look unattractive?
Not at all! An experienced installation contractor can tailor a lightning protection system to aesthetically blend in with any surroundings. In many cases it can be hidden entirely, except for the air terminals themselves.

Q. If I put lightning rods on my house will they attract lightning?
No. Lightning rods do not have an impact on whether a building will be struck by lightning. They are designed to intercept and conduct a bolt of lightning to ground that has already zeroed in on the structure due to other conditions.

Q. Do lightning protection systems require routine maintenance?
No. Due to the composition of lightning protection components, no maintenance is required unless changes are made to the structure or the system is disturbed.

Q. Do the tall trees around my house shield my home from lightning?
No. Trees do not provide protection from lightning because of the dangerous ground charge that accompanies the stroke and travels through surrounding buildings.

Q. Is my house safe if it is in a low lying area?
No. Lightning frequently strikes in low lying areas too. Soil conditions such as moisture or high iron content can attract lightning.

Q. Can my TV antenna act as a lightning rod?
No. Your television antenna is a target that does not have adequate grounding to safely conduct a lightning bolt to ground.

By Daniel Schwen

Q. Is it true that lightning never strikes the same place twice?
This is false! The Empire State Building is struck over two dozen times a year. The Sears Tower is hit by lightning and estimated 40 – 90 times a year! Your building will certainly not be struck as often, but statistics show that if lightning has struck a building once, the chances of it getting struck again are much higher than for a building that has never been struck.