• Welcome to our site! Electro Tech is an online community (with over 170,000 members) who enjoy talking about and building electronic circuits, projects and gadgets. To participate you need to register. Registration is free. Click here to register now.

Lightning strike on house

Roneil

New Member
Hi
When lightning strikes a house does all the electrical appliance still connected to the power and still powered on gets damaged or the cirtcuit breaker on the meter box can help eliminate the problem
Regards
 

JonSea

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
We had lightening strike a tall fir tree 30 feet from the house. A lot of stuff connected to the cable TV was damaged like the cable modem, router and apparently even some CAT5 cabling.

The house 2 doors down was directly hit. The wiring in the house was DESTROYED. Also, many of the nails holding the sheetrock to the wall were vaporized. It took contractors over 6 months to rewire and repair the place before the owners could move back in.

If lightening directly hits, the house wiring will serve as the path to ground. The neutral and ground wires would serve as the primary path but chances are good that the high currect will arc through the breaker panel too. If you had a direct hit, I would assume all the wiring is suspect until proven otherwise.
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
I have a friend who says so so just making sure
Your friend's an idiot! :D

In my previous life as a TV Service Engineer I've been involved in countless lightning strike (and near miss) insurance claims.

In a direct strike it's likely that every wire in the place will be destroyed, as well as every electric item that's plugged in (they don't need to be turned on) - I've seen occasions where the plaster is blown off the wall for a yard either side of every wire.

My brothers house was struck a number of years ago, it vapourised a number of rafters in the roof, and blew a big hole through his £22 each hand made roof tiles. Every single electrical item in the house was destroyed.

A near miss isn't quite so bad, with wiring remaining intact, but pretty well most electrical items destroyed. Strikes further away can also cause damage, commonly up the phone wires (or cable if you have it), and also via aerial systems.

A circuit breaker has nothing whatsoever to do with it, and certainly doesn't offer any protection.
 

kubeek

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Houses in USA don´t have lightning protection, or how come you both talk about such extreme damage to everything? Never heard about anything so extreme here.
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
Houses in USA don´t have lightning protection, or how come you both talk about such extreme damage to everything? Never heard about anything so extreme here.
I'm not in the USA, I'm in the UK, and houses here certainly don't have lightning protection - not that protection is 'that good' anyway.

I suspect lightning damage is more common in the USA, as they have much more lightning storms, I'm in an unusual position as I was privy to lightning damage claims over a fairly large rural area - so I've seen the result of a great many more than an average person.

They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but that's certainly not true - the exact same three houses on a street were damaged twice, almost exactly a year apart.
 

kubeek

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
I'm not in the USA, I'm in the UK, and houses here certainly don't have lightning protection - not that protection is 'that good' anyway
Just to be sure, you mean people in the UK don´t have things like grounded lightning rods on the roof?
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
Just to be sure, you mean people in the UK don´t have things like grounded lightning rods on the roof?
Exactly, no lightning rods at all, except for on some large buildings, like churches etc.

It's a VERY rare occurrence.

Whereabouts are you?, and I take it you have lightning rods?.
 

kubeek

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Exactly, no lightning rods at all, except for on some large buildings, like churches etc.

It's a VERY rare occurrence.

Whereabouts are you?, and I take it you have lightning rods?.
Here in Czechia basically everything bigger than a single-story house hidden between large ones has lightning rods. Definitely anything built from the 60s onward.
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
Here in Czechia basically everything bigger than a single-story house hidden between large ones has lightning rods. Definitely anything built from the 60s onward.
Are you very prone to lightning there then?, presumably there are strict regulations about the size of conductor and substantial earthing required?, otherwise they are useless.

There was a bit of an uproar here a few years ago, when it was pointed out that most lightning conductors were much too puny to do any good,
 

JimB

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
Just to be sure, you mean people in the UK don´t have things like grounded lightning rods on the roof?
Correct.
As Nigel says, it is only tall buildings which have lighting rods, lightning in the UK is not frequent or intense.

I once stayed at a hotel in Italy, on the Adriatic coast, where the ridges and corners of the roof were fitted with thick copper strip (25mm x 6mm).
Most nights while I was there, there were some quite intense thunderstorms and the lighting strikes were not far away.

The most intense lightning/thunderstorm I have seen was in southern Germany last year, the storm was mostly over the Bodensee (Lake Constance in English), it seemed to originate a bit further south over the mountains of Switzerland.
The storm seemed to last an hour or more, with lightning strikes every few seconds.

Getting back to the original topic...
If your house is struck by lightning, expect everything electrical to be damaged or destroyed. If it is not damaged, that is just good luck.

When I worked radio/TV, my towers got hit many times. (hit many time some days) The transmitters were designed to turn off and right back on.
And I guess that there was no damage, because everything was designed and built to withstand the high currents involved.
Everything well bonded and earthed with short thick connections.

JimB
 

kubeek

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Yeah we are next to southern germany, with mountains on all borders, so thunder storms are pretty normal during the summer, with usually one or two big storms that lasts a few hours every year.
I think the code is pretty strict here (both electrical and lightning protection), and people don´t take it lightly because if you don´t have certified revision of those things the insurance company doesn´t pay you anything if your house burns down or equipment gets damaged. Plus possibly you could face some charges regarding endangering other people.
 

ronsimpson

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Everything well bonded and earthed with short thick connections.
I can not find a picture but. Think about this cable but bigger than your arm. All equipment and all buildings grounded together with ground straps. Then the tower has eight 1000 foot lengths of this buried in all directions. We did not count on the power companies' ground.
118780
 

be80be

Well-Known Member
I've seen a house or 2 on fire in 38 years wiring houses I once almost didn't get paid for wiring a house that got hit.
The guy that lived next door came over when I was talking to the owner to tell him how much stuff burnt up in his house.
It blew the neutral off the transformer witch burnt everything plugged in up.
Jame went inside and got me a check lol
 

KeepItSimpleStupid

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
We had a hit too. Not actually sure what it burt up, but the hit seemed to be a kitchen roof exhaust vent.

One thing to keep in mind is that in the US, 120 V outlets are not home run. What that means is, if lightnig strikes the end of the run, all of the ground potentials really go haywire with the real ground.

The ground conductor isn't going to handle the strike anyway.

If we had two grounds, a reference and a protective ground and everything wired home run, we would be better off.

You can buy oraange outlets which have an isolated ground connection.

Hospitals and RF transmitter sites are going to have "better" grounding systems and will apparently have both protective and signal grounds.
 

gary350

Well-Known Member
When I was in grade school and high school 1950s and 1960s everyone had a 30 ft tall TV tower attached to the side of the house, antenna tower was setting on the ground. It was very common 2 or 3 people in town to got their TV tower struck by lightning during every thunder storm. Electricity takes path of least resistance most of the time most of the lightning went straight down into the ground. Lightning would also follow the antenna wire to the TV and destroy it. I inspected several TVs they looked totally burned black inside. Most of the time damage was only the TV.

Our neighbor had a very short antenna tower 8 ft tall their house roof got struck by lightning it sounded like a dynamite explosion. There was a 2 ft diameter hole straight down to the top of the 5 ft tall kitchen refrigerator. Lightning vaporize the wood in ceiling and roof leaving a 2 ft hole but amazing no fire. It blew all the windows out of the kitchen and blew kitchen back door completely off the hinges and about 40 ft into the back yard. Nothing else in the house was damaged. The people that lived their came home about 30 minutes later.

In the 1960s cast iron sewer pipes in house and yard were common plastic pipe were not invented yet. About 1980 we were having a thunder storm and I was in the bathroom. I heard a lightning strike outside at the very same time a 12" long spark jumped from the bath tub water faucet to the metal drain BOOM as loud as an M-80 firecrack or shotgun. WOW scared the heck out of me. Nothing in the house was damaged. Lightning could have struck the yard and came into the house on the metal pipe. Lightning could have struck the iron pipe sticking up on the roof. No way to know where it struck. No damage to house or anything in the house.

One time I was standing at the back door watching it rain and watching the lightning. Lightning struck the 50 ft tall tree in the back yard it came down the tree and followed all the tree roots out across the yard in all directions like spokes of a wheel it looked like sparks came up out of the ground about 12" long from all the roots in a 100 ft circle around that tree. I think that is the most amazing thing I every saw 1000s of spark every where in the yard. No damage to house or garage.

Lightning rods were very popular in the 1930s to 1970s but you don't see them anymore. Lightning rods saved a lot of houses. When I was 16 yrs old I was at my uncles house in the barn lot when a thunderstorm came. I ran into the barn then stood and watched it rain and lightning. The house had lightning rods with a 7/8" diameter woven copper wire that connected all the lightning rods across the roof then down to the ground on 1 side of the house. Lightning stuck 1 of the lightning rods the wire on the roof light up as bright as the sun for a split second. After storm was over I got a ladder went up and inspected the wire no damage at all. No damage to house or anything in the house. The extremely loud thunder scared the heck out of everyone in the house. LOL

Growing up in Illinois there was a 15 minute thunderstorm every afternoon about 4:30 pm every day all summer May to Sept.
 
Last edited:

EE World Online Articles

Loading

 
Top