Lightning and Home Safety


Spring will eventually get here and when it does, it will be accompanied by the thunderstorm, which is accompanied by lightning.  Lightning strikes can’t be prevented, but precautions can be taken.  The following information was obtained from resources on the internet.  Google “lightning home protection” for additional information.  Each home or residence has unique characteristics for home lightning protection.  If you are interested in having a professional evaluate your home for lightning protection, please contact one of the Thompson Electric’s offices.

In less than a microsecond a lightning discharge can generate upwards of 200,000 amps of electricity. This bolt of energy has neither rhyme nor reason to where it hits. It can strike directly beneath the cloud that generates it or stretch 18 miles away. To prevent this capricious element of nature from hitting your home is not always possible, but protecting your house is.  Below are a few ways that you can help safe guard your house from a lightning strike.

Protecting Your Home’s Exterior – Lightning rods will not keep lightning from striking but will help direct it safely away from your home if properly installed. Ensure lightning rods are attached to your house’s roof securely and embedded in the ground by a cable. Lightning also tends to travel across the ground, so if you’re considering planting trees in your yard, keep the taller ones at a safe distance from your house.

Protecting the Interior – Lightning can damage the electronics, telephone and other systems in your house connected to an electrical outlet. The easiest way to protect your appliances is to unplug them when you first hear the clap of thunder. Surge protectors can help but are not fail-proof if the strike is a powerful one. To protect family members, stay away from all plumbing including toilets, sinks and faucets as the pipes of your house make excellent conductors. Stay off the phone as well. According to the National Weather Service, 4 percent to 5 percent of people struck by lightning were talking on their corded phones.

True whole house surge protection network – This requires three types of surge protective devices to effectively protect sensitive electrical and electronic equipment from the damaging effects of voltage surges and lightning strikes.


Type 1 Surge Protective Devices are mounted on the line side of the main service entrance (between the utility pole and where your electricity enters your service panel). These devices protect against external surges caused by lightning or utility capacitor bank switching.

Type 2 Surge Protective Devices are mounted to the load side of an electric service panel and protect against residual lightning energy and other internally generated surges, such as those caused by off/on switching of pumps, motors, HVAC units, etc.

Type 3 – Surge Protective Devices are typically used with TVs, computers, smart appliances and other sensitive electronic equipment. These devices provide point-of-use protection and are the last line of defense against voltage surges.

Chances are slim that you or your home will be struck by lightning, but why take chances, be prepared and be safe.