You might know a little something about lightning rods. Benjamin Franklin was the one who invented lightning rods. Lightning rods’ aim is to protect structures, but do you really know what lightning rods do?
It’s important to know how a lightning rod works, especially if you’re living on the Southeast coast, as lightning strikes are more common in that area as compared to the rest of the United States.
This article has a bit of everything about lightning rods, their history, how it protects a home, modern lightning rods, and whether you do need one for your home.
History of the Lightning Rod
Benjamin Franklin was always very curious about things around him and was intrigued by lightning. That said, he wasn’t the first scientist ever to realize that lightning not only looked but also acted similarly to electricity, but he was definitely the first one to prove this theory.
In fact, he was never a patient man. Hence, he decided to use a kite to reach a lightning storm rather than to wait for a church steeple to end so it attracts electricity. A key was tied to the kite, while he insulate this hand to hold the string.
When the kite was up in the storm, an electrical charge was attracted to the key. Franklin then felt the signs of electricity, and thus confirmed his hypothesis. Lighting was indeed a form of electricity.
Eventually, after some time, he realized that the electricity traveling via blunt conductors actually had a crack and its silenced pointed conductors. This led him to believe that if the sharp points were placed at the top of buildings, it would reduce the effect of the lightning trying to touch the ground.
In other words, this was why lightning rods were invented, and they had to be grounded as well.
Lightning Rods and Grounding
Electricity, or lightning, is always searching for the fastest route to the ground. If there’s no easy route, it has the potential to strike anywhere, and usually looks out for buildings that are tall so that it touches the ground quickly.
But why does this happen with lightning? Well, when there’s a lightning storm, it causes an imbalance between the sky and the ground. Electricity is always attracted to this kind of imbalance of charge, just like a battery.
If lightning strikes an object that’s not a food conductor, it not only heats up but also causes a fire. That is why a grounding lightning rod is vital as it creates a path of minimum resistance for electricity to be able to travel to the Earth without harming a home, or at least minimizing the damage caused.
Let’s be clear that lightning rods don’t attract lightning, but if it strikes near, or the rod itself, it will go ahead with the least resistance path.
Modern Lightning Rods
Lightning rods are no longer a thing of the past, as many homes today have them installed. Moreover, the right kind of lightning protection system has several lightning rods across top of its structure.
You can’t see them because they aren’t exactly as large as they once used to be. In fact, many people don’t recognize or notice them because they’re rather inconspicuous.
How Does a Lightning Rod Protect a Home?
It’s impossible to prevent a home from lightning strikes. It’s also important to know that lightning rods are a part of a lightning protection system. The main responsibility of a lightning protection system is to block the electrical energy and have it routed to the ground so that it bypasses the house.
Full lightning protection systems consist of surge protection that protects appliances and devices within the home. The lightning rod itself refers to a copper rod mounted near or on the house.
The copper rod provides the least resistant path towards the ground. Therefore, the lightning rod has the ability to divert energy from the sky to the ground.
Conclusion – Does Your House Need a Lightning Rod?
It does not matter if you have or don’t have a lightning protection system in your home, as it’s a personal choice and not a compulsion by law. Lightning strikes can have various effects such as electrocution, loss of electronics, to fire.
Although it’s rare for a lightning strike to cause any big damage, should it strike your home, a lightning rod, in fact, a lightning protection system will offer some protection. That said, it’s still a costly investment, but if your area is prone to lightning strikes it’s best to invest in one.