Kuegler Associates: Consulting Engineers - Designed Right = Built Right

When you perform a risk assessment for your commercial, industrial, or municipal property, lightning may not immediately come to mind, but lightning strikes can cause significant damage to buildings and the equipment and systems inside them. In fact, over 40 million lightning strikes occur every year. The most common risks associated with lightning strikes are fires and damage to electronic equipment and electrical systems.

Damage to electrical equipment can be devastating to organizations that rely on electronics to operate, which today is most companies, institutions, and government agencies. Not only does the equipment need to be replaced, which can be costly, it can also lead to long downtimes during which operations grind to a halt.

Each year thousands of buildings and businesses are damaged by lightning strikes. It’s been estimated that lightning causes more than $5 billion in damage in the US alone, with over $450 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Studies confirm that commercial lightning protection systems are highly effective in reducing lightning-caused fires and damage to buildings and structures.

To be clear, lightning strikes cannot be prevented – that’s virtually impossible. The purpose of a commercial lightning protection system is not to prevent lightning from striking. Instead, the electrical energy from a lightning strike is directed and safely transferred away from a building by a commercial lightning protection system which safely discharges it into the ground. The purpose is to provide a path of low resistance for the lightning to travel through without causing damage to the building.

The major components of a commercial lightning protection system include lightning rods, conductor cables, and grounding rods. It’s interesting to note, though, that the essential components used to install lightning protection systems on industrial, commercial, and governmental facilities and structures are virtually the same as those used in residential systems. However, since these types of non-residential buildings are more extensive and, the lightning protection system needs to be as well. In addition, once the height of the building exceeds 75 feet above grade, the required cables and components become substantially larger and heavier.

Ensuring that a commercial lightning protection system complies with all codes and standards of the Lightning Protection Institute, National Fire Protection Association, and Underwriters Laboratories is crucial as well as prudent, to avoid unnecessary risk, damage, and expense. Also, it should be designed and installed by a reputable, certified, and experienced company, such as Kuegler Associates. Contact us today to learn more about minimizing the risk of lightning damage and to explore your options for an effective lightning protection system.