Electrical advice RE Lighting rods and surge suppressors

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Quint, Jun 9, 2005.

  1. Quint

    Quint Well-Known Member

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    Need the opinions of any of the more electrically knowledgeable out there about whole house surge suppressors/lightning arrestors and lightning rods.

    Question 1. Are whole house surge suppressors effective and what kind of money can one expect to spend on something. I have all of my sensitive electronics on APC UPSs and run APC surge suppressors on my TVs etc but I was thinking that a whole house type might be extra insurance.

    Question 2. Lightning rods. I assume they work. Is there anything to look out for when choosing a lightning rod system? How expenisive are these systems.

    The last couple of days we have had some truly wicked lightning and it got me to thinking. I'm sort of on a hill and while there are a couple of trees taller than my house I am right up there in terms of "sticking out". I'm thinking a lightning rod system might be something to look into.
     
  2. NWSneaky

    NWSneaky Well-Known Member

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    Please forget lightning rods. Don't attract it.

    Surge protectors are good for every outlet. I can't recall how much they cost.

    BTW, just call your electric utility provider.
     

  3. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ...................Quint , can't tell you about cost , but I noticed that state farm had a Brochure on the old style arrestor system that they use to install on houses way back . Basically , they mount some short(12" or less) , sharp pointed metal rods every so often along the ridgeline(highpoint) of the home and connect these with #6solid copper wire . Most , if not all telephone poles are grounded with #6 wire . This system was NOT meant to absorb a Direct HIT , rather it WIll route too ground the INduced voltage\current from a "Close Proximity" strike . Also , IF you have a large tree that is less than about 2 feet from the walls or dripline of your home and the tree is HIT , it can Jump from the tree over to your home and set it on fire , this happened to my parents home in Ruidoso , NM some years back . SO , you have the Tree(s) incorporated into the overall system if they present a potential candidate for "Electrification" by Mothernature . My guess as far as cost would be 2 to 5 thousand and you might get some kind of break on your Homeowners insurance .
    ..................Also , a direct hit upon the powerline\pole will travel down the wires looking for the lowest resistance path to ground. Stepdown transformers are supposed to prevent this voltage from entering our homes but , in reality , they really don't work very well . So , have an electrician install an 8 foot long ground rod as CLOSE to your main breaker panel as is feasible . Even IF they have to drill a small hole thru the slab and ground the panel with #6 solid copper wire as this should intercept and Bleed off almost all voltage spikes that comein over the power lines . ALL it takes is Money , fordy.. :)
     
  4. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    As far as whole house surge suppression goes, the good are really good and the bad ones are really bad. What you want to look for in surge suppression are:

    (1) Response time. The shorter response time the better. The good ones will be in nanoseconds.

    (2) Clamping voltage. The closer to your voltage the suppressor clamps the better. In other words if you have 240 volts coming in (normal household voltage) you don't want the clamping voltage to be 600.

    (3) The joules rating. The higher the better. This is the least important and tends to be somewhat subjective but basically tells you how hard a hit the suppressor can withstand.
     
  5. Unregistered

    Unregistered Well-Known Member

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    Several years ago I contracted a job removing lightning rods from a large hotel chain. Their insurance would have increased greatly if they didn't remove the rods. You do not want to attract lightning. Nowdays their is a scam installing a lightning rod system on peoples houses. Same people who used to pave driveways, install new roofs.
     
  6. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Lighting rod doesnt attract lighting.. Lighting rod disapates static electricity. Lightning is the build up of static electicity.
     
  7. Gary in ohio

    Gary in ohio Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The first thing to remember about lightning. If you take a direct strike on your home or electrical lines, NOTHING you do will stop lightning. No matter how well grounded, how many surge supressors or devices will stop a direct hit. Lightning will jump across a 20ft wide room to get from one wire to another.

    Your supressing/aresting system is to help with indirect strikes. Strikes down the road. Whole house are ok, but good ones are expensive and require a GOOD ground. UPS do nothing for lighting, but will help with over and under voltages as well as drop outs.

    Lighting rods are a good start but MUST have a good ground, be installed correctly and be maintained.

     
  8. Quint

    Quint Well-Known Member

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    I should clarify. My UPSs are also surge arrestors.

    As for lightning rods, the way I understand them is that the air terminals are there to direct the lightning - which is going to hit anyway - to ground via the air terminals and grounding cables rather than letting the lightning slam directly into the house or other structure. I see them on lots of homes around my area and have seen them on lots of industrial facilities where I have worked. I've even seen the ones at nasa which looked pretty impressive.

    The whole house suppressor really came to mind when during a thunderstorm a few days ago you could actually hear the lightning pop inside the house when it was striking close. I even seen a static like discharge from some of the outlets in the dark room. The REC offers one but they charge a monthly rental and who knows what kind of quality you are getting. I'd rather spring for my own so I know what I'm getting and don't have to pay for it forever.

    I've got pretty good grounding for the electrical system consisting of 3 10 ft copper rods tied together. I have another ground for the sat dish and yet another 3 rod system for another grounding application.
     
  9. Runners

    Runners A real Quack!

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    Quint has probably seen this kind of stuff...

    By FAR COs (Central Offices) and HEs (head ends) in the Telecommunications industry have the best grounding systems. They're required to - millions of dollars of equipment to protect as well as providing critical communication services to hospitals, police stations and the public. These are elaborate grounding grids able to take direct lightning "hits" - and they do... I've averaged 2 direct hits a year, while at work, inside these facilities. Sometimes your ears ring for awhile... sometimes it sounds like a gigantic bull whip - but the ground is so good, the equipment just keeps on running like nothing ever happened.

    The key components are a large wire grid, with lots of deep rods - if the soil doesn't conduct, they dump a chemical to lower the restistance and make it work.
    The second part is to run large ground wire around the entire perimeter of the building - all this is tied to a huge buss bar, which is tied to the grounding grid. The ground cables all "sweep" in the direction of the ground grid, they say it helps, I don't know, but all this stuff is required.
    Everything inside the building, desks, metal racking, overhead ladder racks, file cabinates, anti-static FLOOR - everything goes back to the same ground.
    Every metalic or metalic sheathed cable entering the building, through the air, ground, anywhere - passes through an arrester. In our smallest regeneration sites, we have 600amp surge/supressors on the line power between it and our equipment.
    I've yet to see a single site with lightning rods - but, IMHO, it would make sense to dissipate the charge, if possible, instead of dealing with a strike.

    The real key is the rectifier & battery bank system that provides a huge buffer and electrically isolates the actual equipment from the outside world. Even after that stuff, there's still fast acting fuses, some sort of like spring loaded (grasshopper, we call them). The real curious/conversation starter... the whole system operates on a + ground and -48vdc hot.

    None of this stuff is cheap, the ground wire sizes are HUGE.

    According to the National Weather Service in Blacksburg Virginia - a car or airplane is really safe to be in, not because of rubber tires, but because your surrounded by a better "electrical path" to ground. The building I described, is basically the same thing, a huge electrical shield, all grounded to a big grounding grid.

    DISCLAIMER:
    I didn't design or engineer this stuff, some did all that number crunching - I just put it together, test it to someone else's specs.
     
  10. Darren

    Darren Still an :censored:

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    There is a UPS that will protect equipment from a lightening strike. The problem is you won't find it through a consumer outlet. Clary makes units for critical systems like medical and military equipment. Years ago one of the computer columnists, Dvorak I think, had a lightening strike destroy every piece of electrical equipment in his home except, to his amazement, two computers hooked up to a Clary UPS. The Clary was destroyed also but it didn't allow the surge to get to the computers.

    The difference between a Clary and the UPS units sold at the big box stores is the Clary unit only uses the AC from the outlet to power a battery charger, The DC from the batteries is converted into AC to power the connected devices. You'll never confuse a Clary with a surge protector. The small units are as big as a bread box and feel like they weigh fifty pounds. A Clary also outputs excellent quality AC. If you live in an area where the utility fudges on frequency and voltage that ability can prevent the slow death of devices plugged into the Clary.

    New Clarys go for hundreds or thousands of dollars. Ebay is a good place to buy one. I've never seen anyone bid on one. I doubt most folks know what they are. If you do buy one off Ebay have the seller strip the batteries out of it before they ship it. I say that because the batteries are probably dead and the unit still weighs a lot without the batteries. The other UPS to look for is a Zenith. Those are probably at least ten years old but if they haven't taken a hit, they'll work fine. Those are rebranded Clarys.

    Some of the Clarys on Ebay are setup for rack mounting. They don't come in a pretty box but they'll still work fine for you.
     
  11. Mid Tn Mama

    Mid Tn Mama Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We looked into the whole house suppressor and it was outrageous. At least for us. I want to say well over a thousand dollars. We use surge protectors and unplug things during storms because even surge protectors are not foolproof. Did you know they degrade the number of times they protect?
     
  12. bgak47

    bgak47 Well-Known Member

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    Surge Suspressors just rely on a circuit breaker or a fuse. A direct strike by lightning could produce 1million volts or more.That could fry all of the wiring in your house & could certainly cause a fire.
     
  13. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    I put a surge protector on my meter and telephone, and am pleased. Cost was minimal because I belong to an electric coop and purchased through them.

    I got it because, last year, I lost my computer and some other things to a lightning storm and, about a month later, a house I co-owned caught on fire when lightning struck and sent a massive power surge through the wires.

    And so far, so good. Actually, a week or so ago --- now, this was odd! :D --- a big storm moved through and lightning knocked out the electric. Mine stayed on for a moment or so, then went off. It came back on a few minutes later --- but I was the only person for a few miles around who had electric for about fifteen-twenty minutes. Now that was odd, and I have no idea what it was about.

    In any case, mine cost $300 through the electric company and comes with big insurance thing --- don't remember how much, but if it fails, I get thousands and thousands of dollars. :yeeha:

    So maybe check your electric company?