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How to install a lightning rod

Updated February 21, 2017

A lightning rod is designed to give lightning a safe path through which to travel if a bolt happens to hit your house. Damage is caused by a direct hit; a lightning rod takes the lightning along a path into the ground, where it is dispersed without harm to the building or its inhabitants. Here are some tips on installation.

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  1. Determine where your groundings will be. Depending on the size of your house, you will need at least two. If your house is larger in perimeter than 250 feet but less than 350, you need three groundings. If the perimeter is between 350 and 450 feet, you need four, and so on. The groundings should be at opposite corners of the house, if you can arrange it that way.

  2. Place lightning rods at regular intervals, preferably 20 feet apart, at most. The end rods should be installed within at least one foot of the end of the roof, though two feet, at most, is acceptable.

  3. Add cable clamps, or fasteners, about every three feet. You can run conductor cables along and down moldings, gutter pipes and other structural parts of the house, in order to have a neater-looking installation job.

  4. Insert one of the ground rods, if it's feasible, near the electrical ground for the house electrical system. Burying the wire there is an option.

  5. Locate points in the electrical system where power surges from lightning could mess up specific units in the house, such as telephones, computers, TVs, and so on. Install a whole-house surge arrestor at the circuit box, or individual arrestors at the previously-identified spots around the house.

  6. Use a large hammer to put the ground rod into the ground. It can easily be hammered in. Another option, if you choose, is to bury a ground plate at the appropriate spot.

  7. Tip

    Make sure cables run horizontally, or downwards to the ground. Aluminum systems are cheaper than copper. Also, there are physical limitations to using copper. For example, don't use copper with aluminum-sided houses. If you have any qualms about your ability to install lightning rods on your house, contact professionals to do the work for you. If you do it wrong, warranties are typically voided, and you run the risk of great damage to your house if you feel that it is lightning-prone.


    Do not let the cables be bent sharply into "U" or "V" formations at any point.

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Things You'll Need

  • Air terminal rods
  • Conductor cable
  • Ground terminations
  • Surge arrestors

About the Author

This article was created by a professional writer and edited by experienced copy editors, both qualified members of the Demand Media Studios community. All articles go through an editorial process that includes subject matter guidelines, plagiarism review, fact-checking, and other steps in an effort to provide reliable information.

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