Common Questions About Lightning Protection

  1. What is lightning protection?
  2. What gets installed?
  3. How does lightning protection work?
  4. What is surge suppression? Why is it part of a lightning protection system?
  5. Will lightning rods attract lightning to my building?
  6. There are tall trees and higher homes near me. Won’t they protect my building from lightning?
  7. Lightning never strikes the same place twice, right?
  8. Is lightning protection proven science?
  9. Our electrician says our home is grounded. Does that protect us from lightning damage?
  10. Will lightning protection look unsightly on my building?
  11. When is the best time to install lightning protection on my building?
  12. How long will my lightning protection system last?
  13. Can we install lightning protection ourselves? Can our electrician or builder install it?
  14. Will I get a discount on my homeowners or commercial insurance if I have lightning protection installed?
  15. How do I choose a company to install my lightning protection system?
  16. Our building has an existing lightning protection system. Can you check it for us and update it if necessary?
  17. Is lightning protection as important today as it used to be?
  18. Won’t my insurance cover any lightning damage to my building?
  19. How do I get a quotation for a lightning protection system?
  20. Someone told me they can install one, big lightning rod on my building and it will “deflect lightning” away from my building and provide protection for acres around. Does it work?
  21. Do you provide references from your previous customers?
  22. Where can I find more information about lightning in general?
  23. I have more questions. Will you answer them?

1. what is lightning protection?

A lightning protection system protects your home, barn, commercial building, or other structure from lightning damage. Lightning damage can include complete or partial loss of a building and its contents due to fire and structural damage. Lightning damage can also include damage to computers, electronics, appliances, electric fences, satellite dishes, telephone systems, hot tubs, and more.

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2. what gets installed?

A lightning protection system contains many elements working together to prevent lightning damage. At Armor Lightning Protection we pride ourselves on going the extra mile to install systems that are nearly invisible from the ground. We are experts at hiding cable, and at installing systems that compliment the architecture of your building.

 

System components include:

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3. how does lightning protection work?

Good lightning protection is solid, straightforward science. A lightning protection system performs a simple but crucial task. Lightning contains millions of volts of electricity. When lightning strikes your building, your lightning protection system provides a specified, highly-efficient path on which the millions of volts of electricity can travel safely to the ground.

On a building without lightning protection, those same millions of volts of electricity still have to get to the ground. Lightning will use your electrical wiring, your telephone or cable wiring, structural elements of your building, or anything else it can find as a “path to ground”. None of these building elements is designed to safely carry this amount of electricity. The result is a build-up of resistance, which leads to fire and explosive damage to your building.

Your lightning protection system gives the lightning exactly what it needs – an easy and efficient path to ground. The result is usually no damage to your building. In fact, if you are not in the building when lightning strikes, you may not even know the building was struck.

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4. what is surge suppression? Why is it part of a lightning protection system?

Surge suppression includes surge arrestors installed where utilities such as electrical service, telephone, and cable or satellite enter your building. When a nearby or distant utility pole or transfer station gets struck by lightning, damaging surges can come down the wires into your building. Surge arrestors stop these surges before they start electrical fires and before they cause damage to your computers, electronics, and appliances.

So, surge suppression means your lightning protection system is effective even when your building does not suffer a direct lightning strike.

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5. will lightning rods attract lightning to my building?

No. A lightning protection system provides a safe and efficient “path to ground” in the event of a lightning strike. Air terminals (“lightning rods”) do NOT attract lightning to your building. Anyone who claims that your lightning rods attract lightning either is not telling you the truth, or does not understand the basic science of lightning protection. Please contact us if you would like to read additional scientific information about lightning protection.

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6. there are tall trees and higher homes near me. Won’t they protect my building from lightning?

No. Lightning is unpredictable, and will often strike a low-lying structure or even bedrock while not touching a nearby tree or higher or taller building. In addition, if lightning does strike a tree near your building, your unprotected building is often damaged by side-flashes.

If you have large or historic trees near your building, these trees can receive their own lightning protection as part the installation of your lightning protection system.

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7. lightning never strikes the same place twice, right?

Wrong. In fact, a building or area that has been hit can indicate that the area is a “hot zone” for lightning strikes. Some buildings get hit so often that we install a “counter” as part of the lightning protection system to keep track of the lightning strikes.

The Empire State Building gets struck by lightning, on average, over 100 times a year, yet suffers no damage due to its lightning protection system.

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8. is lightning protection proven science?

Yes. Lightning protection has been saving homes and other structures for well over 100 years. The basic science of lightning protection goes back to the days of Ben Franklin. The latest codes and regulations, including NFPA 780, UL 96A, and LPI 175, incorporate over 200 years of scientific study and provide the only way to reliably and consistently protect your building from lightning damage. As mentioned above, a great example is the Empire State Building, which gets struck by lightning an average of over 100 times a year, yet suffers no damage because of its lightning protection system. We are happy to direct you to additional information about the science of lightning protection.

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9. our electrician says our home is grounded. Does that protect us from lightning damage?

No. The electrical ground installed by your electrician is there to protect the internal workings of the electrical system in your building. It is not at all designed to protect you from lightning damage.

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10. will lightning protection look unsightly on my building?

No. Modern systems are designed to be nearly invisible from the ground. Cables can be completely concealed during new construction, or hidden in and around building elements on existing buildings. With over 20 years of experience on hundreds of fine homes and historic buildings, we are experts at hiding lightning protection.

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11. When is the best time to install lightning protection on my building?

For Existing Buildings:
Lightning protection can be installed at any time. We work year-round and are always available to give you a quotation. With 20+ years experience, including many historic homes and museums, we are experts at hiding cable and making lightning protection nearly invisible from the ground.

If You Are Installing a New Roof:
Contact us before the new roof goes on. We will coordinate with your roofing schedule so we can hide much of the lightning protection equipment as your new roof is installed.

For New Construction:
It is best to involve us as early as possible. As soon as you have a roof plan and elevations, let us know. The earlier we are involved, the more “invisible” we can make your lightning protection system.
If you are mid-construction already, contact us as soon as possible. Usually we can still completely conceal your system.
If you are nearing the end of construction, we can still conceal many elements of your system. For example, if the ridge cap has not gone on yet, we can generally conceal the main cables. If the siding is not up yet, we can conceal many of the downleads. If the trim has not been installed, we can conceal cable behind the trim.
We are experts at hiding cable, and will work with you to develop a design and plan that fits your needs.

Click here to download short specifications for a properly installed lightning protection system.
Click here to download long specifications for a properly installed lightning protection system.

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12. how long will my lightning protection system last?

Your lightning protection system is designed to last for the life of your building. If you make structural changes or additions, you should have your system checked and updated if needed.

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13. can we install lightning protection ourselves? Can our electrician or builder install it?

An improperly installed lightning protection system can often be more dangerous than no lightning protection at all. Lightning protection is a specialized trade requiring trained, licensed technicians with knowledge of multiple codes and specialized equipment. Most electricians, contractors, roofers, and do-it-yourselfers are not qualified to install lightning protection. In addition, only a UL Certified Lightning Protection Installer can provide you with an independent UL Certificate of Inspection (formerly called a UL Master Label). Many insurance companies require a UL Certificate of Inspection to certify your home and provide any available discounts to your insurance.

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14. will I get a discount on my homeowners or commercial insurance if I have lightning protection installed?

Policies vary by insurance company, but often the answer is yes. Many companies automatically provide a discount for lightning protection, and many other companies provide a discount if you ask for one. Armor Lightning Protection is happy to provide any paperwork requested by your insurance company. Please note that many insurance companies will require your system to have a UL Certificate of Inspection (formerly a UL Master Label) in order to provide a discount. Only a UL Certified installer can provide you with a UL Certificate of Inspection. Armor Lightning Protection is the only UL Certified Installer in the State of Vermont.

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15. how do I choose a company to install my lightning protection system?

An improperly installed lightning protection system can be more dangerous than no lightning protection at all. Lightning protection is a specialized trade requiring trained, licensed technicians with knowledge of multiple codes and specialized equipment.

 

Be sure the company you select to install your lightning protection system:

  1. Is a UL (Underwriters Laboratories Inc) Certified Installer (not just someone who says they will install “to UL specifications”).
  2. Can provide you with a UL Certificate of Inspection (formerly called a UL Master Label).
  3. Installs to meet or exceed NFPA 780, UL 96A, and LPI 175 standards for the installation of lightning protection.
  4. Uses only materials listed and labeled in accordance with UL 96 Standards.
  5. Holds a specific license for the installation of lightning protection, not just an electrician’s or contractor’s license.
  6. Is fully insured and can provide you with insurance papers at your request.
  7. Does not “sub out” their work. When you hire Armor Lightning Protection, you get us, with our 20+ years experience, not someone we “sub” the work to.
  8. Can provide you with multiple references for jobs similar to yours.

In short, be sure you are hiring a reputable, professional company that will stand behind its work both today and down the line.

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16. our building has an existing lightning protection system. Can you check it for us and update it if necessary?

Yes. We do lots of inspection and recondition work.

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17. is lightning protection as important today as it used to be?

Yes. More so. Today’s building have levels of electronic sophistication that couldn’t be imagined just a decade or two ago. A lightning strike to a building today, or a surge from a lightning strike to a nearby utility, can cause damage in the tens-of-thousands of dollars, even if it doesn’t cause a fire or structural damage.

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18. won’t my insurance cover any lightning damage to my building?

Like fire alarms and security systems, a lightning protection system provides the peace of mind that comes from knowing a potential catastrophe has been dealt with proactively.

While insurance companies will often cover an initial lightning strike to a building (minus your deductible), policies are often non-renewed, rates hiked, or subsequent claims denied if your building is struck again.

In addition, imagine the personal loss and loss of productivity when your computers, electronics, and appliances are lost due to lightning damage. And of course, the catastrophic consequences of a fire to your home go far beyond the dollar amount you may collect from your insurance company.

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19. how do I get a quotation for a lightning protection system?

Go to our Contact Us area to provide some basic information about your building, or call us at 802-768-8379.

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20. someone told me they can install one, big lightning rod on my building and it will “deflect lightning” away from my building and provide protection for acres around. Does it work?

No! And both the court system and scientific studies agree. These “magic lightning rods”, which go by various names including “ESE”, “Early Streamer Emmission”, “Single Mast”, or “Radioactive” lightning protection have been proven time and time again to have NO “special powers” to “deflect” lightning or provide “giant zones of protection with just one rod”.

In 2005, the manufacturers of these rods were issued a Court Ordered Permanent Injunction barring them from making any advertising claims regarding special/expanded “zones of protection” for these systems. These companies were also found by the Court to have an engaged in false advertising by making claims about their rods “without having any basis for making such a claim”.

Click here to read the Injunction

Click here to read the Judgement

In addition, as typically specified, these “magic” systems fail to comply with United States standards for lightning protection, including those issued by UL (Underwriters Laboratories Inc) – UL96A, NFPA (National Fire Protection Association – NFPA780, and LPI (Lightning Protection Institute) – LPI175. The systems have too few air terminals, too few paths to ground, lack a satisfactory roof-top network of conductors, and provide for no bonding to roof-top equipment. As such, these systems are ineligible for third-party review or inspection (such as a UL Certificate of Inspection or UL Master Label) for compliance with any recognized US standard.

If you would like to read scientific research regarding these “non-conventional” systems, please click here.

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21. do you provide references from your previous customers?

Of course. We are happy to provide references.

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22. where can I find more information about lightning in general?

Check out our links area.

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23. i have more questions. Will you answer them?

Of course. We realize you may have many more questions than we can cover here. We are happy to talk to you by phone or you can send us your questions via the Web. Visit our contact us area to get in touch with us, or call us at 802-375-0266.

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