As we look up into the Heavens we see clear skies and just a few scud clouds. Nice day for a picnic, maybe watching the games on TV, or go swimming. All seems normal. Yet a hundred miles away ominous clouds are gathering, and thunderbolts of lightning are dancing about on the landscape.
Lightning moving at half the speed of light is being induced into power pole electric wiring and coming your way faster than you can blink.
This induced surge of electricity leaps from the pole outside your dwelling and into your house. The surge races toward your TV, microwave, stereo, X-Box, light bulbs, and any or, all accessories. POP! There goes another thousand dollars in replacement costs.
BUT! You have read my past articles these 30 years and installed lightning rods. You have installed whole house surge protectors; you have 3 wire grounded wall sockets and appliance plugs. Surely you are protected? Mother Nature laughs. So you call- again your insurance company with your minimum deductible policy for the microwave replacement. They pay. Also you receive a doubles whammy…the insurance company cancels your policy for the simple reason they do not want numerous small payouts. So wising up, you buy a new policy elsewhere raising your deductible thereby bearing your own small expenses.
Lightning is a theory, still not really understood but from experience and observation certain rules apply. Lightning as we see it is based on two electrical charges of positive and negative with your house being the connector between these two poles-just like a battery. The electric charge builds up in the air and ground forming a connection between the ground and the clouds. As this buildup of electric charge increases things seem to start popping and flashing. Ball lightning is my most favorite scary effect as it comes through the window draft moving across the room to another window. The big bolts are striking the ground nearby with the crack of doom. The smell of ozone in the air is scary enough for me.
My indicator when I am outside and the electrical charge in the air is building, reminds me to get in the house. This is accomplished by two lightning rods, side by side on my herb houses that snap and spark with the growing electricity in the air.
Some authors say the lightning strikes up from the ground to the sky. This is the theory of the build up of electrons around your house being discharged into the air just like a water hose. Your house being the vector for the big POP! Lightning rod theory originated with old Ben Franklin who postulated the theory that was proven in the 1700’s. Remember him from grade school flying a kite in a storm with a metal key attached to the string? Lightning rods drain the electrons off and save the day.
Lightning rods do not have anything to do with the electric current coming in from the power poles. The potential electric current always present is usually applied to a modern house at 220Volts of push to the 200 amperes of measured electrons that charge your TV and other items of comfort. However that hundred-mile distance to the storm may cause a pulse of voltage around the incoming electrical cable to your house to being grounded out by your whole house electrical protection device we wrote about before.
Your whole house is flooded with an excess of electrons in a storm, this implies that you may develop, no matter what you have done to stop an electrical charge from the exterior reaching the interior, an induced field of a voltage spike may develop inside the house wiring anyway. POP! There goes the TV and other items on the house circuit.
You need an internal surge protector plugged into the wall socket, and then the TV is plugged into the small protector for additional protection. If the whole house surge protector (you purchased and installed on the switch box) discharges the pulse coming in from the power pole and the wall socket surge protectors you bought at Wal*Mart are working properly, discharging through that bigger third wire to ground, you probably have good protection.
Are you lost? This is what is up to date: (1) lightning rods, (2) whole house surge protector on the switch box, and (3) inside wall socket surge protectors, PLUS (4) an outside surge protector on the electrical generator if you have one, or plan to install one this season-see your installer for details and pay about $300.00 for this item of necessity.
Yes, modern living is expensive but if you plan ahead and prep you will not burn the house down. Wait! There is more.
Your lightning rods connect to a 6-foot rod driven into the ground. The connectors get loose. Tighten the nuts on the rods each year. All of the surge protectors have a constant green or red light to show that the protector is working. WRONG! Sometimes, especially with old protectors the light keeps glowing but the protection has given out. On a wall socket, which is the least expensive, just replace them every few years for safety sake, or if your TV has died as an indication to do so.
When buying surge protectors purchase the largest JOULE factor you can find. Everything in protection is measured in JOULES these days. Some protectors are built with a dozen plug inserts. Avoid loading up the protectors with wires. Usually only the top row of the plug in surge protector is actual protection. The bottom 3 plug inserts are not protected. Read directions.
Years back when I was a young man I was running a chain saw on a ladder to cut tree limbs while a storm was gathering some miles away. Running a rotating electrical device such as a gasoline saw, just built up an electrical discharge through me and down the ladder to ground. Lesson learned! Do not run drills, saws, and other rotating power driven devises in a storm area. Automobiles have electric generators, starters, and some new cars have all batteries and generators built in to recharge the batteries. I am not sure about the latter but to eliminate as best we can-truckers drag a rubber strip or chain; I would suggest to park it, and get in a dry building. Go shopping.
Lastly, if you or the kids are swimming, and a storm approaches get out of the water into a dry building. If you are walking in the fields, and lightning is about, lay down flat so you are not a lightning rod. Get off that metal, rotating generator lightning attractor tractor. Do not hug power poles.
God Bless the United States of America. Live long and prosper.
COPYRIGHT: Mark Steel, Back2theLand.com. All rights reserved. 6-7-2015