Roof-top Lightning Protection Systems: Comprehensive Guide

Roof-top Lightning Protection Systems: Comprehensive Guide

Tuesday 23rd May 2023

Every year millions of pounds worth of damage is done to buildings and other structures, despite the apparent rarity of lightning strikes. This makes a compelling case for installing a Lightning Protection System in your commercial and domestic structures. While lightning protection systems are a comprehensive network that goes around a building, the main components that protect the building from lightning strikes are located on the rooftop, so it is imperative that you understand how this works.

The Risks & Impact Of a Lightning Strike

As much as we love it when the rain pours down and washes the earth, the fear and awe of lightning are right there along with it. A single bolt of lightning or a lightning strike discharges expends at least one gigajoule of energy on average. Additionally, as romanticised as lightning, thunderstorms, and heavy rains are, it is a much more serious matter when you understand the science of it.
Lightning is a powerful force of nature that can be caused in the atmosphere inside of a cloud, between cloud to cloud, or even between clouds and the ground. The effect of a lightning strike is often multi-fold, possibly causing heat damage, electromagnetic radiation, bright and blinding flashes of light, and more. As amazing as lightning may be, they're a scary phenomenon, and we should protect ourselves.
As with everything else, humans have managed to survive lightning strikes for over a millennium! While we may have survived it, we did not escape unscathed. We have learnt to fear and stay away from lightning as the only way to protect ourselves.

Lightning Protection System

Over the years, people have used various scientific methods to make advancements in many fields to enhance, improve, protect, and even add comfort to human life, yet we know so little about lightning. One of the main reasons for this is that lightning is largely unpredictable, resulting in insufficient opportunity to study them.
Moreover, we have no way of knowing if thundercloud formations will result in lightning or if and when they will strike. This means that the best we can do is take proactive action to defend ourselves since we still know next to nothing about this natural phenomenon. Consequently, the Lightning Protection System can safely redirect the charged plasma particles that are the natural result of a lightning strike.

Understanding How A Lightning Protection System Works

No Lightning Protection System in the world can stop or reduce the chances of a lightning strike; that's not what lightning protection means.
Lightning protection systems, instead, take away the risks and hazards of a lightning strike on any given structure where it is installed.

The Most Important Parts

Lightning protection systems around the world contain the following components:
1. Lightning Rods
This is the very first element and one of the key components of the entire system. It is made of highly conductive materials, and decorative rooftop elements are also often used as lightning conductors as long as they're conductive. For instance, copper is a highly conductive material, and as such, copper statues or decorative figures on rooftops are often used as lightning conductors. Other than this, lightning rods are also attached to existing designs to maintain the look of the building.
1. Earthing Strips
Earthing strips, also known as Earth Down-Conductors, are strips made of copper and lead from the conductor to the ground. More than one copper strip is often used for larger buildings and is led to the ground while ensuring maximum distance from the other strip. This guarantees that a larger radius of the area is covered under lightning protection.
When you work with a Lightning Protection Company, they will first assess your property before deciding on the best possible outcomes.
1. Grounding Terminal
You will find the grounding rods at the end of the entire system. They are often buried underground and may be found with a chemical backfill to help lower or reduce any resistance.
1. Surge Protection
Surge protection devices are often installed at the entrance to guarantee that lightning does not spread into the building.

Lightning Protection Testing

Lightning Protection Testing is a necessary part and parcel of building maintenance. The Lightning Protection Company you worked with will also be well-equipped to perform the test.
In this, they evaluate the conductivity and resistance of the conductors as well as the grounding rods. This is important to assure that the protection system is in working order. A lighting protection system that is not in order may be worse than no protective systems at all, as it can attract lightning and spread it throughout the building instead of dispersing it into the ground.

Lightning Prevention Systems

Lightning prevention systems are a little different from protection systems. They are designed to make a certain radius around the building completely unappealing to the charged particles that come from the charged atmosphere.
The components used in such a system are highly resistive and not at all conducive to lightning or electricity. Consequently, when the atmosphere becomes charged, it requires a non-resisting path to the ground, and when that cannot be found, it moves and strikes outside the vicinity of the prevention system.
Such prevention systems often need to be custom-made according to building specifications, so you should hire a Lightning Protection Company to find out what works best for you.


As scary as a lightning strike can seem, with lightning protection systems in place, we can protect ourselves, our families, and our homes. These protection systems are essential whether you're thinking of a commercial building or a domestic one like your home. It is best to work with a professional Lightning Protection Company to ensure that the best possible solution is implemented on your property.
With South West Lightning Protection, you will never again have to worry or be fearful of thunderstorms!