How Does Lightning Protection System Work in Building

How Does a Lightning Protection System Work in Building?

Lightning Protection System in Building

“How Does a Lightning Protection System Work in Building?” – this is one of the most frequently asked questions by the general people. Actually, the process of working a lightning protection system is not complex.

lightning protection system

Lightning is a beautiful yet powerful force of nature that can be incredibly dangerous. It can cause serious damage to buildings and structures and pose a significant threat to human life. Fortunately, we have developed lightning protection systems that help to mitigate the risks of lightning strikes. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at how lightning protection system in building works and how they can help keep us safe.

What is a Lightning Protection System?

Risk Assessment, MSIEC62305, TAKO, Services provided

A lightning protection system in building is a set of devices and structures designed to protect a building or structure from the damaging effects of lightning strikes. The main function of these systems is to provide a low-resistance path for the electrical charge of a lightning strike to follow. 

This path diverts the energy of the strike away from the building or structure and safely into the ground. According to the Insurance Information Institute, lightning strike damage caused a total of RM4 billion loss in 2020. This loss was specifically for homeowners in California alone.

Introducing Your Lightning Hero: The LPS

A Lightning Protection System (LPS) in building acts as your building’s superhero against lightning strikes. It provides a safe, low-resistance path for the high voltage current to travel directly to the ground, preventing damage to the structure itself.

Myth: LPS Doesn't Attract or Dissipage Lightning

Contrary to popular belief, an LPS doesn’t attract lightning strikes. It simply offers a more attractive path for the current to follow compared to your building’s materials. This helps prevent fires, structural damage, and protects people inside.

Who Needs an LPS the Most?

Buildings at higher altitudes, on hilltops, or in isolated locations are more susceptible to lightning strikes. Tall structures like towers and chimneys also benefit from LPS installation.

lightning strike

The Dangers of a Lightning Strike Without LPS

Without an LPS, a lightning strike can wreak havoc on your building:

  • Fire: Lightning can ignite flammable materials or overheat electrical wiring, causing fires.
  • Side Flashes: Lightning can jump through the air to reach a better-grounded conductor, damaging your building in the process.
  • Structural Damage: Explosive shock waves can damage building components, shatter glass, and fragment concrete.
  • Electrical Damage: Lightning surges can damage electrical appliances plugged into circuits.
lightning protection system work in building

The Three Components of a Lightning Protection System

A typical lightning protection system in building consists of three main components: the air terminal, the conductor, and the grounding system. Each of these components plays a critical role in protecting against lightning strikes.

Air Terminal

The air terminal, also known as a lightning rod, is typically the most visible part of a lightning protection system. It is a pointed metal rod that is mounted on the highest point of a building or structure. The air terminal acts as a receptor for the lightning strike, attracting it towards the rod and providing a path for the energy to travel.

Conductor

The conductor is a metal wire or rod that connects the air terminal to the grounding system. The conductor is typically made of copper or aluminium and provides a low-resistance path for the electrical energy to travel. It is essential that the conductor is installed in a straight line with as few bends and curves as possible, to minimize the resistance and maximize the effectiveness of the system.

Grounding System

The grounding system is a network of metal rods or plates that are buried deep in the ground. The grounding system provides a path for the electrical energy to safely dissipate into the earth, away from the building or structure. The effectiveness of the grounding system is dependent on the soil conditions, moisture content, and the number and depth of the grounding rods.

Summary of the Components of Lightning Protection System in Building

The LPS Team: Working Together for Protection

An LPS is a team effort of three key components:

  • Air Terminals (Rods): These tall metallic tips placed strategically on the roof act as the initial point of contact for the lightning strike.
  • Conductor Cables: Heavy cables run along the roof’s edges and down the sides of the building, safely carrying the current towards the ground.
  • Ground Rods: Long, thick rods buried deep into the earth disperse the current safely into the ground.

How Does a Lightning Protection System in Building Work?

When a lightning strike occurs, it seeks the path of least resistance to reach the ground. If a building or structure is in the path of the strike, the electrical energy can cause significant damage. However, with a lightning protection system in place, the air terminal provides an attractive path for the energy to follow, rather than the building or structure. The electrical energy travels down the conductor and safely into the grounding system, where it is dissipated into the earth.

There are several advantages to installing a lightning protection system in buildings or structures. Firstly, it provides an additional layer of safety and protection against the dangers of lightning strikes. Secondly, it can help prevent damage to the building or structure, including fires caused by electrical surges. Finally, it can help reduce insurance premiums, as the risk of damage from lightning strikes is reduced. 

Research proved that effective earthing and lightning systems can provide protection up to 84% – 99% of effectiveness.

Planning is Key for Lightning Protection System in Building

For maximum protection, consider including an LPS during the building design stage. This ensures the system can efficiently handle the current before any serious damage occurs. 

The design can even utilize existing building elements to safely conduct the current away from vulnerable areas. Proper grounding is crucial for an LPS to function effectively. This may involve additional earthing beyond what your utility provider offers.

By understanding how LPS works and its components, you can make informed decisions to safeguard your building from the shocking power of lightning strikes.

The Importance of Proper LPS Installation and Maintenance

While lightning protection system in building is highly effective, it is essential that they are installed and maintained correctly. Poor installation or maintenance can compromise the effectiveness of the system, leaving the building or structure at risk. 

It is important to work with a reputable and experienced installer to ensure that the lightning protection system in building is correctly designed and installed. Additionally, regular inspections and maintenance should be carried out to ensure that the system remains in good working order.

Things to Consider before Deciding for LPS

Before any system design or installing a lightning protection system in Malaysia, follow these steps:

  1. Gather Information: This includes the structure’s dimensions, materials, surroundings, and the lightning activity in your region.
  2. Analyze the Data: Complex calculations based on this information determine the risk level and the appropriate LPS class (if needed).

Risk Factors to Consider

The assessment considers various risks:

  • Loss of Life: Safety of people inside or near the structure is a top priority.
  • Service Disruption: Loss of public services like electricity due to a strike is another factor.
  • Cultural Heritage Damage: Protecting historically valuable structures is crucial.

Making the Decision

The calculated risk is compared to a standard-defined “tolerable value.” If the risk is lower or equal, no LPS is required. However, if the risk exceeds the limit, installing an LPS becomes necessary to safeguard people and ensure service continuity.

Remember: When assessing a structure, consider the building itself, its contents, occupants, and the surrounding environment that could be impacted by lightning damage.

Conclusion

In summary, lightning protection system in building is essential for ensuring the safety of buildings and structures from the powerful forces of lightning strikes. By providing a low-resistance path for the electrical energy of a lightning strike to follow, they can help prevent damage and danger caused by these natural phenomena. A properly installed and maintained lightning protection system can provide peace of mind and protection for many years to come.

How TAKO since 1979 can help you to Stay Safe?

TAKO is an expert in Total Lightning Protection System Solutions. It has been playing a lead role in the Malaysian market for the past 2 decades, particularly in the LPS Offerings. Moreover, it provides expert guidance and Free Site Inspection along with total ESD Solutions. TAKO also helps to upgrade or improve your existing lightning protection system.

FAQs on Installing Lightning Protection System in Building

  • How are buildings protected?

    Lightning Protection Systems (LPS) offer a safe path for lightning to travel to the ground, preventing damage.

  • What is an LPS?

    An LPS is a network of rods, cables, and grounding systems that channel lightning safely away from a building.

  • Which buildings need LPS?

    Taller structures, those in exposed locations, and buildings housing sensitive equipment often require LPS.

  • Is LPS a standard requirement?

    Building codes may recommend or require LPS depending on factors like location and height. Not all buildings need them.

  • How to prevent lightning damage?

    Properly installed LPS is the key to preventing lightning from destroying buildings.

  • LPS for high-rises?

    High-rise LPS typically involves air terminals, conductor cables strategically placed along the exterior, and a robust grounding system.

  • Does a building need LPS?

    A risk assessment considering factors like height, location, and building use can help determine the need for LPS.

  • Can lightning be avoided?

    Lightning strikes can't be prevented, but an LPS guides it away from the building itself.

  • Protecting high-rises from lightning?

    A well-designed LPS with proper air terminals, conductors, and grounding protects high-rises from lightning strikes.

  • What happens if lightning hits a building?

    With an LPS, the current is safely channeled to the ground, minimizing damage. Without LPS, fire, structural damage, and electrical issues can occur.

Muntasir Ahmmed

Muntasir Ahmmed

Muntasir helps professional services firms dominate search engines with strategic SEO content. He leverages 3 years of experience to craft content that ranks and resonates.

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