Lightning Strikes Don’t Have to Ruin a Building’s Electrical System. 

Interesting Fact:  Lightning strikes can contain up to one billion volts of electricity, and currents over 200,000 amps have been recorded.

Interesting Fact:  The typical lightning strike creates a conduit of electrically conductive plasma over 3 miles long, connecting the ground to the middle of the storm cloud.

What causes lightning?

Lightning is an electric current that is created when the pieces of ice and airborne particulates inside storm clouds bump into each other, generating an electrical charge similar to a static electricity shock.  As the ice pieces increase in size, so do the electric charges.  Some of the charges are positive and some are negative.  When the charges are large enough, a massive spark is created between the two.  That spark is lightning.  Lightning can occur within a cloud, between two clouds, or from a cloud to the ground.

How often does lightning strike buildings?

Frequency of lightning striking a building depends on a number of localized factors.  Taller buildings can be struck repeatedly, even multiple times in the same storm.  In fact, it's estimated that the Empire State Building is stuck around 100 times every year.  This obviously refutes the myth that lightning will never strike the same place twice.  However, smaller buildings and even houses are often struck by lightning as well.

Why are lightning bolts jagged and not straight?

Many smaller electrical strokes seen in controlled situations are straight, so why are lightning strikes jagged?  As described above, the electrical charge created is both large and not consistent.  When the charge leaves the cloud towards the ground, it's following the path of least resistance.  Just like if a person was going through a forest they would go around the trees.  Similarly, lightning will go around different elements in the air.

How does lightning damage electronics?

It depends on the electronics.  Anything with an electronic chip or circuit board has very small and fragile circuitry making them easily damaged by even a very small electric current, much less a lightning strike.  Things such as washers, lamps, and other items with little circuitry can still be ruined by larger currents that will burn and destroy the wires, often causing fires as well.

How does electrical grounding work?

Simply, electrical grounding is a way of giving electrical charges an efficient way out without destroying electronics.  As mentioned earlier, electricity will follow the path of least resistance.  An electrical grounding will create that path.  By having a proper grounding system it allows the electricity to flow back into the ground.

How to protect a building from lightning

This greatly depends on the building and the electrical system it has.  Houses and other small buildings need a basic grounding system.  Larger buildings usually require custom engineered grounding systems like the XIT grounding system.

We'd love to hear from you, and answer any questions that you may have! 

T. 310.214.4000
F. 310-214-1114
Toll Free. 800-962-2610

Email Us!

Our Location

3547 Voyager Street #204 Torrance, CA 90503

Please fill out the form below and a member of the Lyncole team will contact you shortly!

View some of our videos on lightning protection and grounding courses.

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Be first to find out about new products, and services.