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What Happens When Lightning Strikes a Metal Building?

What Happens When Lightning Strikes a Metal Building?

There are many common misconceptions about lightning safety. For example, lots of people believe that there is no danger if it isn’t raining. However, lighting can still strike even when it isn’t raining. This is why it’s important to get inside quickly when a storm is approaching. Staying outside to finish activities or yard work can put you in serious danger.

Another myth is that rubber tires insulate cars, protecting passengers from lightning strikes. However, this is simply not true. In reality, it is the metal frame of the car that protects the people inside of it. The car acts like a cage, safely distributing the charge across a larger area and into the ground.

The Story of Lightning and the Metal

Some people might believe the conductive nature of metal causes it to attract lightning. This is not true, either. Lightning is actually no more likely to strike metal than it is to strike objects made of any other material. What makes metal structures different is that they are much less likely to be damaged by lightning. This is because the metal can conduct the lightning safely to the ground.

The same principle applies to steel buildings. When a steel frame is properly constructed, it will redirect any lightning strikes in this way. The steel framing acts as a cage to protect the people inside from the powerful strike, just like in a car. While no house is completely safe from lightning, the added protection of steel greatly reduces the risk of any potential damage.

Lightning Safety: How You Can Stay Protected

Lightning is a powerful and dangerous force of nature. Therefore, it’s important to take your personal safety seriously whenever there is a chance of lightning.

The first thing you should do when there is a chance of lightning in the area is to find shelter inside. You are always much safer indoors during a lightning storm. However, some may think they are safer outside if the only nearby structure is made of metal.

This could not be further from the truth. In fact, a metal building is even safer than wood during a lightning storm. This is because the metal will conduct any lightning strikes, as mentioned above. Also, metal is non-flammable, which will protect it from being ignited by a powerful strike.

How Steel Buildings Resist Damage from Lightning

To understand the safety of steel buildings, it’s important to know that lightning is simply electricity. Although it is super-charged electricity (a single bolt can generate up to 100 million volts), the basic rules of any electric circuit apply.

All materials will either conduct or resist electricity. This includes all building materials, such as wood or steel. If a material (like wood) is highly resistant to electricity, the energy from that electricity cannot go anywhere. Because of that, energy disperses randomly, leading to destructive outcomes like explosions or fires. This is why firefighters in the US must battle 22,600 fires caused by lightning every year.

According to the National Lightning Safety Institute, annual damages from lightning average about $8 to $10 billion in the United States alone. Specifically, lightning is the cause of 30% of church fires, 19% of residential fires, 18% of lumberyard fires, 14% of outdoor burns, and 7% of non-residential fires. Those are significant statistics that you can thankfully mitigate by utilizing smart building construction.

Steel conducts electricity much better than wood. Since it does not resist electrical current, the electricity is allowed to pass easily through steel. In this way, the electrical energy is not blocked and flows freely to the ground.

Metal buildings work the same way. A properly grounded metal building can safely steer the electricity away by redirecting the current through the framing. There is also obviously no risk of a steel building catching fire.

That’s why steel construction can be safer than wood, and metal buildings can help shrink the annual costs of lightning damage. Again, steel helps minimize this potential risk to your property.

Metal Building with a lean to

Lightning Protection Systems Add Security

Although steel will conduct electricity better than wood, there is more to a safely constructed building than that. For example, to truly minimize the risk of a lightning strike, a building must be safely grounded. This includes designing all bonding and interconnected materials to dissipate any electrical charges effectively.

A Lightning Protection System (LPS) provides this added safety on top of the existing benefits of steel construction. Lightning protection systems combine conduction, dissipation, and grounding to protect buildings from lightning damage.

The first major component of a lightning protection system is a lightning rod, which is simply a pole attached to the roof of a building. Cables connect to the pole that runs down the side of a building into the ground. These cables connect to special electrodes that are dug into the ground to disperse the charge. The electrodes extend a safe distance below the ground.

There are many critical components to a lightning protection system. Each component must be carefully sourced and installed to ensure the highest level of protection. This includes appropriate conductors, bonding, and strike termination devices.

Steel buildings are already very safe even without a lightning protection system, but an LPS is an extra step you can take to ensure that the risk to your property is as small as possible. Besides protecting the building itself, lightning protection systems also help protect electrical components and circuitry inside the building. Unfortunately, these circuits and devices are also susceptible to electrical overload from a lightning strike.

Get Carports Offers High Quality and Safe Metal Buildings

Get Carports is here to serve you with the safest and most reliable steel buildings available. With buildings constructed from high-quality materials at affordable prices, Get Carports has proudly established itself as America’s largest metal building dealer.

Get Carports offers the best customer service in the industry, with a knowledgeable and experienced team ready to help you every step of the way. Their easy online ordering process that comes with free shipping and installation makes getting your building simple. Additionally, their skilled team is prepared to assist with any ongoing maintenance and will ensure your building stays proudly standing.

Protect your property from costly lightning damage. Call Get Carports today at (800) 691-5221 and let them meet all of your steel building needs!


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