World Construction Symposium

World Construction Symposium

Lightning Protection Systems: Surge Protection And Safety Grounds

by Wallace Simmons

Lightning strikes are a leading cause of weather-related property damage, potentially causing severe harm to structures and electronics, and even posing a threat to human life. To mitigate these dangers, lightning protection systems are an essential installation in buildings and other exposed structures.

Understanding Lightning Protection Systems 

Lightning protection systems (LPS) are designed to protect a structure and its occupants from damage caused by lightning strikes.

  • LPS: An LPS typically consists of five primary components: air terminals (or lightning rods), conductor cables, ground rods, bonding, and surge protection devices. All these components work together to safely intercept and direct the lightning discharge into the ground, thus averting potential harm.

Role of Surge Protection Devices

Surge protection devices (SPDs), also known as transient voltage surge suppressors, are crucial components of a lightning protection system.

  • Surge Protection: They protect electrical and electronic equipment within the building from the sudden surge of voltage that a lightning strike can induce, even indirectly.
  • Stopping Surges: When a lightning strike occurs, the electrical system of the building experiences a sudden, rapid increase in voltage, known as a surge. This surge can damage or destroy electronic devices and appliances by overloading their circuits. SPDs help prevent this by detecting excess voltage and diverting the extra current safely to the ground.

They are typically installed in the electrical panel and at the point of use, thereby providing a line of defense for sensitive electronics and appliances.

Safety Grounds

Safety grounds, which include ground rods, ground plates, and their connections, are another key aspect of a lightning protection system.

  • Safety Grounds: They provide a pathway for the potentially harmful electric charge from a lightning strike to dissipate harmlessly into the earth.
  • Safely Redirecting Lightning: In a well-designed LPS, lightning's electrical charge is intercepted by air terminals, then conducted down through cables to the ground rods. These rods are driven deep into the earth, typically at the lowest point of the structure, where the electrical charge can safely disperse without causing harm.

Moreover, safety grounds play a crucial role in equalizing the voltage between electrical systems and the earth, thus preventing the flow of electrical current through unexpected pathways, such as plumbing or human bodies. This helps protect people and pets in the structure from the potentially lethal effects of electric shock.

The Importance of Proper Installation and Maintenance

The installation and maintenance of surge protection devices and safety grounds should be carried out by qualified professionals.

  • Pro Installation: An improper installation can render the system ineffective or even dangerous. Regular maintenance, including inspection and testing, is necessary to ensure the system remains functional over time.

A lightning protection system, including surge protectors and safety grounds, is subjected to high electrical stresses during lightning events.

  • Annual Maintenance: Over time, this can lead to wear and tear. Regular inspections can identify and correct any issues, such as loose connections, corrosion, or damage to components, ensuring that the system is always ready to protect the structure and its occupants.


About Me

World Construction Symposium

Hi, I'm Lenora. One of my favorite things is traveling. And when I travel, I especially love to see the various architecture around the world. Ever since I built a house (well, you know, hired a contractor to help me design it and then build it for me), I have been fascinated with the construction process. I love looking at international architecture like Saint Basil's Cathedral in Russia or Angkor Wat in Cambodia. How were they made? It is just so interesting to me, from the foundation's support to all the intricate details such as paving or roofing. I started this blog to talk about all the parts of construction. I hope you enjoy it!