basic components of lightning protection system

Essential for Safety: the Basic Components of Your Lightning Protection System

Basic Components of Lightning Protection System

Basic components of lightning protection system refers to the elements with which a lightning protection system operates. Lightning is a powerful and awe-inspiring force of nature. However, its impact can be devastating. To safeguard structures and lives from their destructive potential, a comprehensive lightning protection system is essential. In this blog post, we will provide an overview of the key elements or the basic components of lightning protection system.

basic components of lightning protection system

The 3 Core Components-

The essential components of an LPS include:

  1. Air Terminals (Lightning Rods): These are installed at the highest points of a structure to attract lightning strikes.
  2. Conductors: These are copper or aluminum wires that connect the air terminals to the other components.
  3. Grounding System: This includes grounding rods or plates that dissipate the electrical current into the earth, neutralizing its potential to cause harm.

Standards and Compliance

In Malaysia, the MS IEC 62305 standard provides comprehensive guidance on the protection of buildings against lightning. It covers general principles, risk assessment, and the detailed design of LPS components.

Crucial Statistics on Lightning Protection Systems (LPS) in Malaysia

A survey conducted by the Malaysia Energy Commission on 416 buildings revealed:
LPS Statistics of Malaysia

3 Basic components of lightning protection system

1. Lightning Rods (Air Terminals):

Basically, lightning rods are also known as air terminals.

Lightning protection engineers install air terminals (also known as lightning rods or Franklin rods) at the highest points of a building to intercept lightning strikes. Air terminals are typically made of copper or aluminium, which are good conductors of electricity. However, lightning protection engineers design air terminals to attract lightning strikes and divert the current away from the building and into the ground.

Lightning is a powerful natural force that can cause extensive damage to buildings and property. Lightning can cause fires and damage to equipment when it strikes a building, as the current can travel through the building’s electrical system. In some cases, lightning strikes can even cause death or injury.

How Air Terminals Work?

Air terminals work by providing a safe path for lightning to travel to the ground. Lightning protection engineers typically install air terminals at the highest points of a building, such as the roof peak, chimney, or lightning rod mast. Lightning protection engineers point to air terminals to create a strong electric field, which helps to attract lightning strikes.

When lightning strikes an air terminal, lightning protection engineers conduct the current down the air terminal. And, through the conductor cables to the ground rods. Lightning protection engineers bury ground rods underground and provide a low-resistance path for the current to flow into the earth. This helps to prevent lightning from travelling through the building’s electrical system and causing damage.

Importance of Air Terminals as one of Basic Compoents of Lightning Protection System:

However, air terminals are an important part of any lightning protection system. Besides, they can help to protect buildings and property from the damage and destruction that can be caused by lightning strikes. If you are considering installing a lightning protection system, be sure to include air terminals as part of the system.

Here are some additional details about air terminals:

  • Lightning protection engineers should make air terminals of a good conductor of electricity, such as copper or aluminum.
  • Lightning protection engineers should install air terminals at the highest points of a building, such as the roof peak, chimney, or lightning rod mast.
  • Lightning protection engineers should point air terminals to create a strong electric field, which helps to attract lightning strikes.
  • Lightning protection engineers should connect air terminals to conductor cables.
  • Lightning protection engineers should bury conductor cables underground and connect them to ground rods.
  • Lightning protection engineers should bury ground rods at least 8 feet deep in the ground.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your air terminals are properly installed and will provide effective protection from lightning strikes.

2. Conductors:

Conductors are the pathways that allow the lightning current to travel safely from the lightning rods to the ground. These conductors are usually made of copper or aluminium and are installed along the roof, walls, and downspouts of a building. They create a low-resistance route for the lightning current to follow.

3. Grounding:

Effective grounding is a critical aspect of a lightning protection system. Lightning protection engineers bury grounding conductors in the earth to provide a direct path for the lightning current to dissipate harmlessly. Lightning protection engineers ensure that the energy from a lightning strike is dispersed into the ground by grounding conductors without causing damage to the structure or its occupants.

4. Bonding:

Bonding involves connecting all the metal components of a structure. Basically, the components are pipes, ducts, and metal roofs, together with the lightning protection system. Moreover, this helps to prevent potential differences in voltage. And, it can occur during a lightning strike, reducing the risk of side flashes or arcing within the building.

5. Surge Protection Devices:

Surge protection devices (SPDs) safeguard electrical and electronic equipment from voltage spikes caused by lightning strikes. SPDs divert excess voltage away from sensitive equipment, preventing damage and downtime.

6. Lightning Protection for Electrical Systems:

In addition, electrical systems within a structure also require protection from lightning-induced surges. Lightning protection engineers install surge protectors and isolators at key points in the electrical distribution system to protect appliances and electronics from overvoltage events.

7. Inspection and Maintenance for all the Basic Compoents of Lightning Protection System:

Regular inspection and maintenance are crucial to ensure the continued effectiveness of a lightning protection system. To identify any signs of wear, corrosion, or damage to the system’s components, trained professionals should conduct inspections.

Lightning safety codes (NFPA 780, LPI 175, UL 96A) exist to ensure proper lightning protection system (LPS) installation. When lightning hits a building, it travels through any available metal paths. LPS helps by providing multiple, large, and good conducting pathways for this powerful but brief surge of electricity. An LPS includes a roof network to catch the strike, a grounding system to discharge it safely, and connections to metal objects inside the building. These connections prevent dangerous sparking or side flashes within the structure.


To summarise, a well-designed lightning protection system is a comprehensive network of elements that work together to divert. Besides, it dissipates the immense energy of lightning safely into the ground. By combining lightning rods, conductors, grounding, bonding, surge protection devices, and maintenance protocols, a lightning protection system offers vital protection for structures, occupants, and valuable equipment against the unpredictable forces of nature.

How Lighning Protection System is Assessed

Lightning protection systems need to be checked to make sure they’ll work properly. Here’s how they do it:

  • Think about the risks first: They consider things like how likely lightning is to strike your building, what kind of damage it could cause (like hurting people, breaking electronics, or starting fires), and the importance of the building (like a hospital or museum).
  • Building details matter: They look at the size and shape of your building, any cables coming in or out, and how it’s built and used.
  • Lightning in your area: They check how often lightning strikes where you are.

By considering all these things, they can make sure your lightning protection system is strong enough to keep you and your building safe.

A Choice of Basic Components of Lightning Protection System

Lightning protection systems are usually made from either aluminum or copper, both good at conducting electricity. Here’s how to choose:

  • Price: Aluminum is much cheaper than copper.
  • Look: If it’s visible, aluminum works well on light-colored buildings, while copper goes better with darker ones. Copper starts reddish but can turn greenish over time.
  • Rust: Aluminum doesn’t work well with concrete or dirt because it can rust. Use copper instead in those spots. Special connectors are needed to join aluminum and copper parts.
  • Extra protection: For areas prone to rust, you can get special components coated in tin for even more resistance.

Purchasing Your LPS Components

With an average of 240 lightning days per year, the importance of a reliable Lightning Protection System (LPS) cannot be overstated. When purchasing LPS components, it’s essential to ensure they meet the national and international standards. Here are some tips:

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What are the three basic components of lightning protection?

Air terminals (capture the strike)
Conductor cables (carry the current)
Ground rods (discharge current safely)

What are the components of lightning?

Lightning itself doesn’t have components. It’s a giant electrical discharge.

What is the lightning protection system?

A network of parts that guides a lightning strike away from your building and into the ground.

What is a lightning system component that is used to protect lightning?

Lightning protection systems don’t “protect lightning” – they protect structures from lightning strikes.

What is an example of lightning protection?

A lightning rod on a building is a simple example of a lightning protection system.

How many lightning components are there?

There isn’t a set number – a system can have more components depending on the size and complexity of the structure.

What are the two types of lightning protection systems?

External system: Protects the building itself from direct strikes.
Internal system: Protects electrical equipment from surge damage caused by the strike.

Where are lightning protection systems used?

They’re used on homes, tall buildings, and any structures at risk from lightning strikes.

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