Does your home need residential lightning rods? While the answer may seem cut and dry, that’s not necessarily the case. Thunderstorms do happen relatively often in the Okanagan during the summer, so should you consider it? We explore how lightning rods work, and whether they’re worth the money to invest in.
Residential Lightning Rods—How Does a Lightning Rod Work?
There’s nothing especially complicated about the design of lightning rods. They’re just long, pointed metal poles about 2cm in diameter that are attached to the roof of a building. A long piece of copper or aluminum wire usually about 2cm in diameter as well is then attached to the pole and connected to a conductive grid buried in the ground nearby.
Contrary to what is often believed, lighting isn’t actually attracted to lightning rods. Instead of lightning causing damage to your home if a lightning rod is struck, the lightning is channelled safely from the rod into the conductive grid. The grid is specifically designed to handle the enormous amount of energy within a lightning bolt and can safely dissipate it.
Lightning can also “jump” as well when it lands because it wants to find the path of least resistance. Because of this, a highly conductive material (like copper and aluminum in the lightning rod wire) will make the lightning jump to it to reach the ground faster.
In short, lightning rods don’t prevent lightning strikes, they don’t attract lightning strikes, they simply redirect strikes safely so that damage is either minimized or mitigated.
Should I Install Residential Lightning Rods?
Lightning is one of the most common weather hazards, and contrary to the urban myth can actually strike the same place twice (the Empire State Building is struck many times within a year). Standard homeowners insurance policies do cover lightning strikes, but damages from the resulting power surge that accompanies lightning are not. All your files and electronics can be instantly fried and unrecoverable if lightning strikes near your home or powerline.
It only takes one strike to cause damage, but it ultimately comes down to you and whether residential lightning rods installed on your home makes sense for you.