Denver, like most of Colorado, sees frequent thunderstorms in the summer. Even a day that starts sunny can boil into a storm in a flash. When a thunderstorm rolls in off the Rockies with lightning flashing, you want to know that your home’s electrical system is protected from surges.
A lightning rod is actually a series of a few metal rods at the tallest points of your roof, connected to grounding wires. Alongside in-home safety measures like a surge protector, a lightning rod can provide additional storm protection outside your home. But do you need one? Here’s all you need to know about lightning rods before making your decision.
How Do Lightning Rods Work?
The purpose of a lightning rod is to guide the electrical charge from a lightning strike away from vulnerable structures. They intercept lightning before it strikes a building. From there, highly conductive wire made of copper or aluminum provides a path of least resistance, leading the energy safely to the ground. The charge dissipates into the earth instead of powering through the more vulnerable materials of your home.
Are Lightning Rods Effective? Do Lightning Rods Work to Prevent Electrical Damage?
Lightning rods can be effective, but not at preventing electrical surges. Lightning rods are far more effective at preventing structural damage and house fires. So, while lightning rods are very important, you need further surge protection to minimize the risk of electrical damage from lightning strikes and power surges.
Are Lightning Rods Safe?
Yes. All lightning protection systems should follow the safety requirements laid out by the Lightning Protection Institute, National Fire Protection Association, and Underwriters Laboratories. A full lightning protection system provides multiple paths to the ground to prevent side-flashing, where lightning can jump from a single path into your home’s structure.
Lightning rods must be properly maintained to be safe, however. Any damage to the wires conducting electricity to the ground should be fixed immediately, or you risk increasing your chances of a fire due to a lightning strike.
Do Lightning Rods Attract Lightning?
No. This is a common myth about how lightning rods work; they don’t make lightning hit any more often than it does naturally. However, when there is a strike (that would normally hit your home, for example) the lightning rod intercepts the electricity and safely redirects it.
Deciding Whether You Need a Lightning Rod for Your House
Lightning rod installation can be expensive, so you don’t want to get one unless you really need it. So how do you know if you really need one?
While most residential homes don’t need one, since the chances of your house getting struck are low, here are a few situations where a lightning rod might be beneficial:
You deal with frequent lightning strikes. Denver sees an average number of lightning strikes compared to the rest of the US: about two per square kilometer every year. However, the number grows as you get closer to the Palmer Divide south of Denver, which sees six per kilometer every year. Residents of Monument, Colorado Springs, and Fort Carson may see more strikes than the average Denver or Boulder home.
You have tall trees within 10 feet of your home. Lightning isn’t guaranteed to hit the tallest object in the area, but it’s more likely to. Lightning that hits a tree can side-flash into your home, causing damage if there’s nothing there to redirect it.
Your home is the tallest thing around. With the mountains nearby, it’s hard to think of your home as tall in comparison. However, if you live in an isolated area or on a hill, your home could provide a bolt of lightning with the path of least resistance.
Electrical Safety Measures to Protect Your Home from the Inside Out
While a lightning rod does a great job of protecting the outside of your home, it does very little to protect your electrical system.
For that, turn to Mister Sparky of Denver. We can install a whole-home surge protector that guards against the voltage spikes caused by lightning strikes. Protect your electronics with the help of our expert electricians. Call to request service at (303) 747-4279 or book online today.