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Lightning Strike Protection
A single lightning strike can cause massive damage to a house and even burn it to the ground. What actually does damage in a lightning strike is the heat. When this comes into contact with a flammable structural material, the result is fire. A single lightning strike can hold as much energy as 150,000 amps! A lightning protection system is a drop in a bucket compared to the cost of rebuilding your house.
A lightning protection system is a collection of components designed to protect your home and everything in it from fire and electrical damage. A typical lightning protection system includes a network of lightning rods, metal conductors, ground electrodes, and all the connectors and supports for each. All these part work together to provide a low resistance path to ground. A properly grounded lightning protection system dissipates heat from a lightning bolt by providing less resistance to ground than the structural members of your house.
Lightning Protection System Costs
A simple lightning protection system can cost as little as a few hundred dollars for an average 2-story house. This includes a lightning rod atop the roof with an insulated cable running to a ground. This system offers minimal protection and may fail, depending on the intensity of the strike. A more complex and secure system, with several lightning rods strategically placed around the roof and several ground electrodes, may cost $2000-$3000 for an average 2-story house. The price dips a bit for a one-story house and rises slightly higher for a 3-story house. This is primarily due to the materials cost for the metal conducting wire.
Another component useful for a good lightning protection design is a surge arrestor. Lightning can enter your house through phone or power lines and overload you electrical system causing fires. It is basically a lightning surge protector for you electrical box. A surge arrestor will stop any abnormal current from entering your home's internal wiring. It will typically cost $100-$200 for this device and is well worth it if you are looking for good, overall lightning protection.
Protecting Your Investment
Any electrician that installs lightning protection systems should be certified by the Underwriters Laboratory or the Lightning Protection Institute. You should also have a qualified professional inspect the system every few years to make sure it can still do its job.
Another good idea is to have surge protectors for all of your electronics inside your house. Lightning strikes do not have to be direct hits in order to do damage. Anything close to your house has the chance to affect the current in your house's electrical system.