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Country Discussion Topics
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Lightning Rod worked last night!!!
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Mark Hendershot    Posted 07-08-2002 at 18:02:08       [Reply]  [No Email]
We had one heck of a storm last night! Tons of lightning in 3 different fronts that hit us in a row. Lucky we got some rain after the first front went over! The last one was at 2:45AM and right over the house. I was watching the Lightning rod cause I thought it might get hit and it did! Blinded me for a while it was so brite. The rod did it's job no damage to the tree and it went to ground inside the cable. Glad it was in the tree! We have over 15 small fires that were burning or still are from the sleepers due to the lightning strikes last night. It has dryed out some and with the wind the smoldering spots started to burn today. We got crews on all of them right away so they did not get out of control. Very lucky it rained because we had 35 mph winds blowing during the storms. There would have been to many fires to have stopped them all! Mark H.


buill b va    Posted 07-09-2002 at 13:05:53       [Reply]  [No Email]

hey mark ......you being a electrician which way did it travel? ground to air or air to ground ? which was neg and which was pos ? did the current flow from neg to pos or pos to neg . would you consider lightning to be wandering watts ? ....i figure if there was the slighest chance lightning rods gave the slighest protection the government would require them every where even if they cost more than what they were protecting .also regular inspections by a certified pin head


Mark Hendershot    Posted 07-09-2002 at 16:57:51       [Reply]  [No Email]
Well some say it goes up and when I see it it looks like it goes down? Don't get the Goverment involved then it would be a mess. The top of this tree was hit befor and is all mis/shaped at the top that is why I put it up there. Figured since it was real close to my bedroom window and more than twice as tall as the house I would give it a shot and try it. Even if they may not work all the time it makes me feel better knowing it is up there. Mark H.


Jerry S    Posted 07-09-2002 at 10:58:08       [Reply]  [No Email]
A couple that I work with was with her family in the minivan and it was struck by lightning when they were going down the interstate. About all it did was blow out and partially burn a tire and messed up their cruise control. I would have figured it would do at least some paint damage. I told them they should have bought a lottery ticket.


MikeH-Tx    Posted 07-09-2002 at 05:39:58       [Reply]  [No Email]
Mark, what a lucky sight to see. That must have been one heck of a storm.

The way a lightning rod is supposed to work is that sharp pointed objects do not allow high electric fields to build up. It should have prevented the lightning from ever occurring close by. Thus, it is very difficult to know if your lightning rod is working, because if it is, you shouldn't get any lightning. It has to have a point though. Suggest you fix yours when you have a chance.

I installed two when I built my house and mounted them on each end of the highest gable of the roof. I called a couple of lightning rod installers here in town and they wanted $5000 for a "system." Thought that was nuts. Instead, I put a 5ft copper rod into the ground and ran 1/4in aluminum braided wire from it up to the roof. I made a couple of lighning rods from large darning needles and made a bracket to mount them to the roof and connect to the ground wire.

Haven't had any lightning near the house, ever. Is it working? Don't know for sure, but I am happy with it.


Hal/WA    Posted 07-09-2002 at 22:21:59       [Reply]  [No Email]
Maybe your little system would work, but the ones I have seen have SERIOUS large, thick rods and SERIOUS thick conductors to a very good ground, like steel underground water pipe, or several ground rods driven into ground that will not likely ever get dried out.

The amount of power in a lightning strike is HUGE! And if lightning strikes something like a building, tree, or lightning rod, it better have somewhere to disperse to. And if that conductor is too small, the conductor probably would melt or be vaporized like the fence I wrote about in this same string.

Your system might do some good, but I would be afraid that putting a grounded conductor that small on top of my building would tend to attract lightning to the building. And I would be afraid that if the system did get struck, the huge discharge of static electricity would do more damage to the building than if I did not have the conductor up there to attract the lightning at all.

I am sure no expert, but I would suggest that you talk to someone who is. Of course it may not make any difference unless your building is the tallest point around there......


MikeH-Tx    Posted 07-10-2002 at 05:33:55       [Reply]  [No Email]
Lightning rods don't cause lightning. The only way they "attract" lightning is by being the highest point and closest to the source. This is offset by their tendency to stop lightning from occurring by discharging the electric field before it gets strong enough to set off a strike. If my rods get a direct hit, then the house would have been hit anyway, since the rods are only one foot higher than the roof line.

You make a good point in that a bigger system would be better. Lower resistance materials would probably withstand more direct hits with less damage than smaller systems. Mine might even be a one time use system wrt a direct hit. I am willing to put up with that. Even if a direct strike melts the ground wire, it still would provide a better path to ground than not having it there.


Mark Hendershot    Posted 07-09-2002 at 08:10:30       [Reply]  [No Email]
I was understanding that if you were going to be hit by lightning it would go to the rod instead of the building? I have 2/0 copper cable the size of you pointer finger running down the tree. I have a stainlees steel 5ft rod at the top clamped to the cable and insulaters supporting the cable going down the tree. I have about 20 ft of bare cable in the ground and 2- 8ft rods also conected to the cable in the ground. It had a sharp point till this week end? The rod is 80 ft off the ground and is a real project to get to it let alone take it down to sharpen it again. Mark H.


Nathan(GA)    Posted 07-08-2002 at 19:32:41       [Reply]  [No Email]
I love to watch lightning Mark. We live in a sort of bottom surrounded by trees, so it aint easy. I used to drive up to the open field and sit in the truck to watch it.

Several years ago, I was sitting on my Mothers porch during a storm. Lightning hit a big pine. It blew bark up on the porch with me.



Mark Hendershot    Posted 07-08-2002 at 19:58:16       [Reply]  [No Email]
I have seen it hit a chimney at Fort Lewis, Washington once. It blew the bricks off the corner of it thru the air for a good ways. Mark H.


ShepFL    Posted 07-08-2002 at 18:58:47       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hey Mark -
I am in the process of building a new 2 story house and have often wondered about installing a lightning rod. Right now I am just doing the framing as the foundation is done. Got any particulars you care to share?

House is located in NE Florida and we have lots of afternoon thunderstorms, some very severe. I have lost a few tall pines due to lightning strikes. Thanks for any input.


Mark Hendershot    Posted 07-08-2002 at 19:03:24       [Reply]  [No Email]
Best bet is to put Lightning Rods into a search on the internet you will find a lot of information on them there. That's what I did befor I did mine so I would set it up right. Mark H.


Hal/WA    Posted 07-08-2002 at 18:56:53       [Reply]  [No Email]
Once when I was a kid, I visited my cousins in Eastern Montana for a couple of weeks. One night they had a big thnderstorm that really impressed me. The next morning, we found that their cattle were out. We rounded them up and then went out in the old pickup to find out what happened to the fence. About a quarter mile from their buildings we found the problem. Their fence was 4 wire barbwire on steel T posts. Apparently the fence had been hit by lightning during the storm. 2 of the T posts were gone--more or less vaporized, and about a hundred feet of the barbwire was also gone, leaving melted ends. It did rain, or that lightning strike probably would have set the grass on fire. My uncle and cousins said they had never seen a fence destroyed like that before. It sure would have been interesting to actually see it happening, from a safe distance. I bet it lit the area up brighter than day! Sure glad the cattle were not near the fence or they would have probably lost them.


Mark Hendershot    Posted 07-08-2002 at 19:06:28       [Reply]  [No Email]
Those fences will start fires all along them when they are hit sometimes. Once we had a fire and a electrical line was on a fence and it was starting fires we had to call the power company out to kill it befor we could get them out. Mark H.


Okie-Dokie    Posted 07-08-2002 at 18:23:29       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Saw lightning strike an oak tree once. What a sight! Every bit of the tree's bark came off and flew all around. Real strange, that tree looked just like a peeled onion!


Grove r    Posted 07-08-2002 at 21:33:19       [Reply]  [No Email]
Bout four or five years ago, a big pine tree in the corner of the corrals, [app. 22"on the butt], got hit. Of course it went across the fence, there were stove wood size pieces of wood over about a two hundred foot area, had been putting rocks around the base of the tree to keep the cows frome laying there and killing the roots, they were also scatered over a wide area. I limbed and cut the tree up for lumber, when I went to haul the trash away, the stump was completely free of the gound, and there were no pieces too big for me to move by hand!!! That tree would have given a D8 a tussle to push over.....some power!!! have a gooder, R.E.L.


Mark Hendershot    Posted 07-08-2002 at 21:39:11       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hey I went out and looked at the rod and part of the tip is gone? It used to be pointed and now it is blunt. I am not going to clme up and put a new point on it 80 ft up that tree! Mark H.


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