Let’s face it, nature is a force to be reckoned with. Whether it’s tornadoes tearing up the countryside or hurricanes barrelling along the coastline, it’s never a good idea to underestimate the sheer power of the natural world.
Here in the UK, we’re relatively lucky when it comes to inclement weather. Although we can chat for hours about our infamously gloomy and rainy forecast, we rarely have to deal with what could be deemed truly extreme weather. However, that isn’t to say we don’t get our fair share of storms. Whether it’s Typhoon Brian or Hurricane Michael, the British Isles gets its fair share of thunderstorms causing havoc.
Of course, whenever there’s thunder, there’s lightning and here in the UK, it’s not uncommon to see flashes of bright electronic light streak across the sky. Yet, although beautiful and awe-inspiring to witness, lightning is a powerful force. Striking the earth at 270,000 mph and at a temperature five times hotter than the surface of the sun, lightning can cause a significant amount of damage to whatever or whoever it hits.
Indeed, with our buildings getting taller, the likelihood for a structure to be hit is becoming increasingly likely, causing a host of problems to unprotected buildings. Luckily, there are ways you can safeguard your premises from the awesome power of a lightning strike - installing a lightning conductor.
The damaging effects of lightning
It really cannot be understated how powerful even a single lightning strike can be to both the point of impact and the surrounding area. As friction builds within the clouds caused by rising and falling currents of air, the subsequent massive negative electrical charge it creates targets the positive ground below. This charge forms into a lightning strike, which will usually then hit a taller building due to it acting as a great conductor to the ground.
This can cause a variety of problems to buildings without adequate lightning protection installed. Obviously, the main concern is the hazard it can potentially cause to humans. Even if you’re inside a building, a structure that is not adequately protected does carry an inherent risk of electrocution.
However, the more likely issue that a building may face is to its electrical systems. A bolt of lightning can easily overload a building's electronics through a process known as transient overvoltage, which can cause a host of problems, from damaged equipment to a full shutdown of your operation, potentially costing you thousands in lost income.
With this in mind, it makes sense to have comprehensive lightning protection in place to ensure your personnel and your premises are safeguarded from the elements.
The science behind lightning conduction
One of the most efficient ways of minimising the devastating effects of lightning is to install a conductor. Originally discovered by Benjamin Franklin during his iconic kite in a thunderstorm experiment, a lightning conductor consists of a pointed metal rod fixed to the top of a building.
This rod is then connected to an extremely long piece of copper or aluminium wire which runs to a conductive grid buried underground in a safe spot nearby. Contrary to popular belief, a lightning rod doesn’t necessarily attract a thunderbolt, rather, it creates a path to the ground which offers the lowest resistance.
As the rod and the connected wire are excellent conductors, the energy contained within a lightning bolt is more easily diverted safely towards the ground, minimising the potential damage caused by the strike.
The lightning conduction installation process
Although a simple idea, a lightning rod needs to be installed properly in order for it to carry out its job effectively. A company that deals with lightning protection will have the skills, knowledge and resources to efficiently install a lightning rod for maximum protection, however, it can be useful to have an understanding of the process.
To begin with, a risk assessment will be taken to figure out which parts of the building are at particular risk of a lightning strike, such as electronic equipment and systems.
Next, the premises’ groundings will need to be ascertained before the installation can begin. Groundings are an essential part of lightning rod installation as it is what discharges the energy. For larger buildings, you’ll likely need multiple groundings in order to discharge the electricity effectively and they will need to be placed at opposing ends of the structure.
The lightning rods are then installed at regular intervals along the top of the building close to the roof edges. These are then connected to grounding points via a ground rod, completing the process.
Understanding the benefits lightning protectionAs a business owner, you may be wondering whether investing in comprehensive lightning protection is worth your time and money. However, with between 200,000 - 300,000 lightning strikes across the UK every year with the potential to cause havoc to your building, it’s definitely in your best interest.
First and foremost, every business should put the health and safety of their employees first. It’s likely that you have fire alarms and other safety protocols in place so it’s important to consider lightning safety as well.
A lightning strike can affect people in a variety of ways, not just through electrocution from the initial strike. Due to their extreme heat and power, it isn’t uncommon for buildings without necessary lightning protections in place to catch fire or to become damaged by a strike.
By investing in comprehensive lightning protection for buildings, however, you can drastically minimise the chance of injury to you and your employees. Specialists can undertake full risk assessments to discover any risk points on your premises and a quality lightning rod can also protect pedestrians in the surrounding area by discharging the electricity underground rather than across the floor.
Protect your electronics
Transient overvoltage is a genuine problem when it comes to your buildings electronics. Although lasting mere microseconds, a lightning bolt can send tens of kilovolts throughout your system, effectively frying anything it touches. Because of this, a well-placed lightning strike could end up costing you thousands in repairs and replacements, crippling your operation.
By installing a conductor, your electronic equipment remains safe from this costly effect, saving you a huge amount of money on repairs and minimising the chance of chaotic downtime.
Keep your premises protected from the elements with Rodells Ltd
A lightning storm can not only bring your business to a grinding halt but also poses a significant risk to you and your employees, so why take the risk? A quality lightning protection company can turn your premises from a hotspot for lighting-related accidents into a space completely protected from this awesome force of nature.
Here at Rodells Ltd, we understand and respect the power of lightning and its potentially devastating effects, which is why we offer our customers bespoke lightning protection services for ultimate peace of mind.
Whether you’re in need of quality lightning conduction installations, in-depth risk assessments or repair work to keep your building safe, our team of qualified professionals are on hand to ensure your needs are met.
However, our work doesn’t stop there. Since opening our doors in 1898 as a humble steeple-jacking company in Hertfordshire, we have expanded to offer a range of services, from lightning protection to scaffolding, and have a wealth of knowledge and experience to ensure the job gets done first time, every time.
If you would like to learn more about how your building could be better protected from the elements, visit our website or get in touch with our team on 01727 841855 to further discuss your requirements.