Lightning rods are metal rods attached to the tops of buildings or other structures. They are primarily used to protect very tall or isolated buildings from damage from lightning strikes. The lightening rod was invented by Benjamin Franklin when he was conducting his famous electrical experiments. He was the first to hypothesize that a metal rod would draw the electrical charge of lightning out of the sky and prevent it from striking buildings.
As Benjamin Franklin thought, lightning rods work primarily by shifting the electrical charge of a lightning strike away from the structure the rod is to protect. The charge is routed along a low-resistance wire that runs from the lightning rod to the ground. The electrical charge is then harmlessly distributed through the ground. As long as the grounding wire is in place properly, lightning rods really work. After a lightning rod is struck, both it and its attached grounding wire must be checked for damage and replaced if necessary. In the 1800’s, lightning rods frequently had lightning rod balls made of glass attached to their tops to help with these inspections. When lightning struck the rod, the glass ball would shatter. This enabled a person to tell at a glance which lightning rod, if any, had been struck and needed inspection, simply by looking to see if the glass ball was intact or broken. This was especially important on farms, where multiple lightning rods were installed on everything from barns to silos to water tanks.
Lightning protection is even more important in modern times, with phone and electrical lines that can carry a lightning charge into our homes and damage equipment such as computers and televisions. Lightning arresters, or surge protectors, can help to minimize this risk. Plugging important electronic equipment into these surge protectors rather than directly into the wall, will limit the sudden spike in voltage from a lightning strike, and protect the equipment from damage or complete destruction. One large manufacturer of lightning arresters is Bharat Electronics Limited.
In order to avoid costly property damage, and fires that could lead to loss of life, the installation of lightning conductor systems such as lightning rods is extremely important. The time and money spent on this installation will be well worth it when lightning does strike, and you, your family, and your property are protected. It is a small price to pay for peace of mind. Remember, lightning may strike infrequently, but the results can be disastrous.