How a Lightning Protection System Works: Lightning is the visible discharge of static electricity within a cloud, between clouds, or between tile earth and a cloud. Scientists still do not fully understand what causes lightning, but most experts believe that different kinds of ice interact in a cloud. Updrafts in the clouds separate charges so that positive charges moves end up at the top of the cloud while negative flow to the bottom. When the negative charge moves down, a "pilot leader" forms. 'This leader rushes toward the earth in 150-foot discrete steps, ionizing a path in the air. 'The final breakdown generally occurs to a high object the major part of the lightning discharge current is then carried in the return stroke which flows along the ionized path. A lighting protection system provides a means by which this discharge may enter or leave earth without passing through and damaging non-conducting parts of a structure, such as those made of wood, brick, tile of- concrete. A lightning protection system does not prevent lightning from striking; it provides a means for controlling it and preventing damage by providing a low resistance path for the discharge of lightning energy. FIG. 3 Lightning protection system for a dwelling: 1) air terminals spaced 20 feet apart along ridges and within two feet of ridge ends; 2) down conductors; 3) minimum of two groundings at least 10-feet deep; 4) roof projections such as weather vanes connected to system; 5) air terminal located within two feet of outside corners of chimney; 6) dormers protected; 7) antenna mast connected to roof conductor:- 8) connect gutters or other grounded metals as required; 9) surge arrester installed at service panel to protect appliances; 10) transient voltage surge suppressors installed in receptacles to which computers and other electronic equipment are connected. FIG. 4 Lightning protection system commercial/industrial installation 1) air terminals spaced 20 feet apart around the perimeter of the building; 2) down conductors; 3) ground rods at least 10-feet deep; 4) art handling units bonded to system (may be in need of air terminals mounted on unit); 5) air terminals mounted within two feet of outside corner; 6) mid-roof conductor and air terminals at maximum 50-foot spacing; 7) grounded metal bodies bonded into system; 8) surge arresters installed at main electrical panels; 9) transient voltage surge suppressors installed in receptacles to protect computers and other office equipment.
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