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Lightening: Protecting Your Family and Home


 

 

By the Lightening Protection Institute

F lightning strike to an unprotected home can be disastrous. Packing up to 100 million volts of electricity and a force comparable to that of a small nuclear reactor, lightning has the power to rip through roofs, explode walls of brick and concrete, and ignite deadly fires. Never mind floods, hurricanes and tornadoes. According to NOAA statistics, lightning is responsible for more injuries and deaths than these occurrences of nature combined.

Although one of the most powerful forces of nature, ironically the force of lightning can be controlled. State-of-the-art lightning protection systems

"Never mind floods, hurricanes and tornadoes.... Lightning is responsible for more injuries and deaths than these occurrences of nature combined."

harness lightning's power and provide protection to life and property.

Thunderstorms result from the powerful clash between cool and warm weather air masses. As varying charges of positive and negative energy build up, the result is a discharge of negative energy which rushes toward the earth. As these downward forces approach the earth, positive strokes from the edges of buildings, chimneys, powerlines, trees, etc. strain up to meet them. As they connect, a flash of lightning occurs as a closed circuit is formed from earth to sky.

A lightning protection system is designed to control or force this electrical discharge on a specified path, harmlessly dissipating the current into the ground and minimizing the chance of fire or explosion within non-conductive parts of the house. The system neither attracts nor repels a lightning strike, but provides a safe path on which the current flows.

A system is made up of several components, including air terminals, conductors, bonding plates, connectors, and ground devices. System design is dependent upon several factors, including the design and construction of the home, soil content, and location. Modern design incorporates the system into the architectural style of any home and is barely visible. In addition to structural protection, the inclusion of surge suppressors prevents damage and destruction of electrical appliances and valuable electronics.

The installation of a home lightning protection system is by no means a do-it-yourself project. The importance of the certification of a lightning protection system design and installation process cannot be understated. Lightning protection technology is a specialty discipline, and the expertise required for system design and installation is not available through all general practice engineering firms.

When choosing a system and contractor for lightning protection, it is important the individual, as well as the system, be certified - thus assuring national codes such as those set forth by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 780 and the Underwriter's Laboratories (UL) UL96A have been met.

For additional lightning safety and protection information, write the Lightning Protection Institute at 3335 N. Arlington Hts. Rd., Suite E, Arlington Hts., IL 60004.
 


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