|What is Lightning
A better question would be, what is
lightning and how can I protect my family and property from it?
Lightning is an electrical discharge between
a cloud and the earth below. The lightning strike
begins with a faint pre-discharge, called the leader, which travels from
the negatively charged cloud downward to the positively charged earth.
This faint leader
creates a path for the bright and powerful return stroke (what you
actually see) which travels from the ground up to the cloud. This
entire process takes less than 1/4 of a second and releases typically
20,000 amps of current at voltages up to 1 billion volts!
How can we possibly protect our property from such an incredible
force of nature? The answer is actually very simple. The lightning
travels from the clouds to the earth. We can't change the location
of the cloud, but we can change the location of what electricity
perceives as earth. Our buildings which are attached to the earth become
part of what electricity sees as the positively charged earth.
Lightning tends to strike the tallest structure which represents the
shortest path to earth. The billion volts and tens of thousands of
amps of current travel through our building as it passes to earth
causing massive destruction along the way.
A lightning protection system creates a path
of least resistance from the top of your structure down to earth below.
To the lightning, earth is now located on top of your building.
The lightning strike travels from the cloud directly to the lightning
protection system which it sees as being earth. The thousands of
amps of current and billion volts bypass your structure and go
immediately to earth.