Lightning Rod for Your Home or Business: What You Need to Know

Lightning storm

Does Your Home or Business Need a Lightning Rod?

How often do you think about lightning, and the damage it can do to your house or business? My guess is, not often.

Michigan sits at the very top of “tornado alley,” which means we don’t get as many tornadoes as Kansas, Missouri, or even Indiana. However, we occasionally do. We also have violent summer thunderstorms.

When you need a lightning rod, you want to have had one previously installed.

Lightning Protection Systems

Protection against lightning damage is as old as our country. Many people know of Benjamin Franklin’s experiments with electricity and lightning.

Still, most don’t know that he was responsible for promoting the widespread use of lightning rods throughout our country when it was new. Thanks to Franklin, even ships at sea devised a new way of diverting lightning and avoiding destruction.

However, does lightning protection extend to you? Absolutely, yes! The lightning rod, or finial, is the most visible component of a full lightning protection system.

These systems are designed to divert lightning, should it strike your house, down along a special cable inside your wall and into the ground, where it dissipates.

Damage Done by Lightning

Before lightning rods began to be used, wooden buildings and ships were routinely damaged or lost by lightning strikes. This electrical current can destroy many types of building materials and can cause fires.

Lightning can also cause what is called side flashes. These are small explosions caused by highly pressurized, super-heated air that happens inside the small spaces inside of structures.

Side flashes can shoot debris at high speeds through your house in addition to starting fires.

How a Lightning Rod Works

A lightning rod or finial should be mounted on the highest point of the structure. While there may be less chance of your house being struck, most tall buildings – especially those more towering than the surroundings – need a system to divert lightning.

The lightning rod is then electrically bonded to the earth with a conductor and electrode. It provides the electricity from a lightning strike a path of least resistance. It allows the electric current to travel harmlessly through the conductor and into the ground.

Small buildings may only need one lightning rod, while large buildings may have several. The average cost of a lightning protection system for a 2,500 square foot building is approximately $2,500.

How Likely Is A Lightning Strike?

As you know, lightning strikes are infrequent. However, it’s not always a bad idea to protect against something that may never happen. Airplanes rarely crash. Nevertheless, we include every safety precaution we can when flying.

Some areas of our country are more prone to lightning strikes. Florida has a higher than average strike rate due to climate conditions coming from two oceans.

“Tornado alley” through the Midwest has a higher than average strike rate as well, due to its unusual climate conditions that lead to more tornadoes than elsewhere on earth.

Much more common is your home or business being hit by an “indirect strike” that comes to you through the power lines. For that, you need excellent surge protection for all of your expensive and delicate electronics.


It’s never a bad idea to protect your home or business against lightning. It may never happen, but if it did, it could be devastating.

Is your home or business located in Southeast Michigan? If you are interested in finding out more about this protection, please call our office today.

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