Lightning Rods

Question regarding the answer to the 24 Aug 2001 regarding “Do lightning rods work?”

 Why hasn't a manufacturer come up with an instrument like an inexpensive recording ammeter to place along the grounding cable to record the carrying of charge to ground so the customer could actually read the activity that has taken place on his system?  That would also clear up the controversy.  I am a retired physics teacher.  I explained to my students that a lightning rod actually increases the chance that your home will be struck by lightning.  But by enabling the discharge to take place early the chance of the static charge building to a greater and more dangerous size was reduced.  The result would be therefore as you stated: the rods help avoid serious strikes but do not guarrantee it.  Lightning is a very complex phenomenon.

Spencer Maddux

Link to Do lightning rods really work?

Welcome to the Straight Dope Message Boards, madduxcs, we’re glad to have you with us. You might have been slightly puzzled by Ice Wolf’s comment. You gave the date and title of the column, but we prefer that the first post of a new thead in this forum provide a link. Saves lots of searching time. No big deal, and Ice Wolf provided the link, but didn’t remark further on your question/comments. Any how, welcome, and I’m sure someone will be along shortly to make more substantive responses.

For what it’s worth, a quick scan of indicates that there is no question that lightning rods work, but that the NFPA 780 document should have been edited a long time ago to indicate that such-and-such a level of lightning-rod installation gives you such-and-such an amount of protection, that it can be improved by such-and-such means, but that nothing is guaranteed 100% lightning-proof. (The old 780 document seemed to be saying that a standard installation offered perfect protection.) I couldn’t find whether there has been a reversal on the Early Streamer Emission technology.