A Lightning Protection System (LPS) is designed to protect a structure or building and contents from damage caused by the intensely high voltage currents of a lightning strike (often exceeding a 1,000,000,000 Volt Amps). Lightning protection systems act like a Faraday Cage for buildings. Protecting the building and its contents from external electric fields by migrating that energy around the cage instead of through its contents. A lightning protection system offers a lightning strike a low resistance path to ground where the enormous energy is then safely dispersed.
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A typical lightning protection system includes lightning rods, metal conductors and ground electrodes designed to offer a low resistance path to ground and to take any high voltage currents from a lightning strike away from the structure of the building.
The low resistant path offered by a lightning protection system is very important as high voltage currents from a lightning strike will always take a path of least resistance to ground.
Without lightning protection any grounded object that provides a path to earth will emit fingers of electrical charge called positive streamers upwards into the sky. These positive streamers intercept the downward negative leaders from a thunder storm so creating a channel of plasma air for the giant voltage currents of a lightning strike to travel along. If the grounded object is a building the high voltage currents will then travel along any low resistant paths within that building’s structure causing heat damage. Lightning energy may even jump through the air to reach a better conductive path.