Barns - Lightning Rods, Yes or No?
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    RetiredDoc's Avatar
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    Question Barns - Lightning Rods, Yes or No?

    My barn was built less than 2 years ago. It does not have lightning rods. The builder felt that they weren't needed, and the other three main barn builders around here also gave me the same "not worth it" advice. I've since done a lot of reading on line, but a lot of the advice seems to be based on fear rather than real evidence. Mostly things like "a big barn near me burned and horses were killed, so every barn should have lightning rods." These reports seldom say whether the burned barn had lightning rods or not.

    My barn has woods on two sides of it, with trees much taller than the barn itself. My fencing is all wood, so no surrounding wire fencing to conduct electricity. My utility lines are all underground. The nearest fire station is approximately 2 miles away. I do not store hay in the barn.

    I would appreciate advice, pro vs con, particularly from those here with barns, and those with electrical backgounds. Thanks.
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    All I know if you have them, make sure they are hooked up.

    There was a house north of me who was restored to it's glory. They included some classic lighting rods on the roof with the pretty glass balls. They were not connected to anything, just nailed to the roof. No copper wire to the earth ground. Lightning did hit that house. It did burn. Not tot he ground but a heavy loss. Had to be completely gutted and rebuilt. This time without the classic barn ground rods.

    isaac

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    Quote Originally Posted by UnionSchnauzer View Post
    All I know if you have them, make sure they are hooked up.

    There was a house north of me who was restored to it's glory. They included some classic lighting rods on the roof with the pretty glass balls. They were not connected to anything, just nailed to the roof. No copper wire to the earth ground. Lightning did hit that house. It did burn. Not tot he ground but a heavy loss. Had to be completely gutted and rebuilt. This time without the classic barn ground rods.

    isaac
    Good advice, also as ground rods do deteriorate over time. and it brings up other questions. There is varied advice on line about grounding a lightning rod system, ranging from 4 foot to 10 foot grounding rods, of various diameters. Or using a cable in a trench grounding system. Also copper versus aluminum wiring, and how best to connect the cable from the roof into the ground.

    Copper wiring seemed popular years ago, and aluminum frowned on, but with the high price of copper aluminum is now OK?

    It's all confusing.
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    The general soil resistivity in your area will determine the ground rod requirements. The write ups describing the process for figuring ground rod length and depth are usually about 50 pages long and involve lots o' measurements & math. Or you could ask your local electrical inspector or electrical contractor or maybe a municipal worker that deals with water well pump houses or water towers what they do for ground rods in their facilities.

    Lighting rod systems equalize the pos and neg static charge so that the building itself doesn't end up doing that. Ideally this equalization sends the pos charge to ground before the build up results in a strike or when a nearby strike happens and the leaders spread out. If the lighting rod system takes a direct hit you will still need good luck on your side.

    I have seen water towers with a good grounding system take a direct hit and the damage can be quite impressive. You could also have a nearby strike that doesn't hit the structure itself but the surge comes through electrical supply into the panel. I have seen that on a couple well pump control panels. Lighting isn't supposed to strike the same place twice, but one new well site outside York, PA took so many 'nearby hits' after two years they took out the grid connection and went solar with a few deep cycle marine batteries for the control panel and a generator to power the pump. I usually get a few calls after a summer thunderstorm rolls through for pricing on replacement equipment.
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    I've always been on the fence with the use of Lightning Rods.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RetiredDoc View Post
    My barn was built less than 2 years ago. It does not have lightning rods. The builder felt that they weren't needed, and the other three main barn builders around here also gave me the same "not worth it" advice. I've since done a lot of reading on line, but a lot of the advice seems to be based on fear rather than real evidence. Mostly things like "a big barn near me burned and horses were killed, so every barn should have lightning rods." These reports seldom say whether the burned barn had lightning rods or not.

    My barn has woods on two sides of it, with trees much taller than the barn itself. My fencing is all wood, so no surrounding wire fencing to conduct electricity. My utility lines are all underground. The nearest fire station is approximately 2 miles away. I do not store hay in the barn.

    I would appreciate advice, pro vs con, particularly from those here with barns, and those with electrical backgounds. Thanks.
    The National Electric Code will tell you HOW to install a lightning protection system but they don't tell you if/when one is required. It's totally up to the designer's/builder's/owner's wants and desires...

    But I will tell you this, 2 or 3 years ago we had a good storm blow through. A bolt of lightning hit a tree that's about 20' behind my chicken coop. It jumped from the tree to the coop and then from the coop, it followed a small stream of water (runoff from the rain) about 30' to my swimming pool. Once it hit the pool it followed the electrical lines from the pool pump right onto the house. I was sitting here when it happened and watched in horror as a couple of electric outlets blew right out of the wall.

    Luckily the house insurance covered the blown up TV, cable box, dishwasher and other stuff. But the next day I went out and ran a #2 bare wire across the roof of my coop and down the front and back and drove 2 ground rods. Then I added 4 more ground rods to the pool system and replaced 150' of wire out to that outlet.

    That's just to say, you don't know you need it until you find out that you should have had it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimR View Post
    But I will tell you this, 2 or 3 years ago we had a good storm blow through. A bolt of lightning hit a tree that's about 20' behind my chicken coop. It jumped from the tree to the coop and then from the coop, it followed a small stream of water (runoff from the rain) about 30' to my swimming pool.
    You didn't say- fried chicken for dinner that night?

    Al
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlKozak View Post
    You didn't say- fried chicken for dinner that night?

    Al
    Amazingly enough, no. Not one chicken hurt! lol
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlKozak View Post
    You didn't say- fried chicken for dinner that night?

    Al
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimR View Post
    That's just to say, you don't know you need it until you find out that you should have had it.

    Sort of like...
    Experience is something you get right after you need it!
    or
    Luck is the moment when Preparation meets Opportunity!
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