When lightning strike your property, your home, or your business it creates a lot of damage. Often times lightning does not have to directly hit your property to create havoc in your life.
An electrical lightning bolt seeks for a path to earth ground so that it can channel itself through it, and exhaust its energy. Oftentimes, this path to ground is provided by your home or business electrical wiring system.
Due to the immense amount of energy carried by these powerful lightning strikes, they often create a lot of destruction as they pass through your home electrical circuits.
They often damage your TV's, computers, alarm systems, electrical wiring, audio systems, intercoms, home theater equipment and any other electrical or electronic components in its path.
RCS Electrical Services can evaluate all electrical damages created by these events, and submit a complete lightning evaluation report to your insurance company so that they can forward payment for your repairs.
During active lightning storm season, it is easy to be affected by lightning strikes. Lightning, in spite of popular believe, can and often hits the same place more than once, often causing structural and electrical damage.
Our company does lightning strike evaluation and repair. We can write the report necessary for insurance company to open a loss claim and award you monies for the repair of your structural, electrical, and electronic equipment damage.
When lightning strikes a building, it looks for the building's electrical wiring so that it can follow a path to ground. As lightning travels through your electrical wiring system it destroys everything it encounters.
As lightning is passing through your electrical system, it is damaging all appliances it encounters on that circuit. It can be a TV or a refrigerator, microwave or a stove.
Sometimes lightning gets in your house through the utility electrical service to your home. Other times it enters right through the TV cable coming from outside. Lightning strike damage can occur when lightning strike enters your home or building through the telephone wiring system.
Lightning is formed when strong updrafts of hot humid air, traveling upwards at more than 50 MPH, begin to condensate in the upper atmosphere. As condensation begins to take place, water droplets form. As these water droplets are forming, the updraft of hot humid continues on, as it builds cloud formations called Cumulonimbus.
Cumulonimbus clouds are massive formations containing water in all its three states, liquid, vapor, and solid. A Cumulonimbus base, is usually at an altitude of 700-10,000 feet, and its peak can be as low as 20,000 feet, and as high as 70,000 feet.
As these hot updrafts of humid air continue to build these clouds, smaller impurities carried by the upward moving air current, are colliding with the forming water droplets. These collisions propel lighter particles into the higher altitude of the cloud, called peaks, whereas gravity pulls on heavier particles gathering them toward the bottom of the cloud, called base.
The particles at the base of the cloud are charged with a negative polarity, whereas the particles at the peak of the cloud have a positive one. Thus the cloud has two electric fields, one is positive and one is negative.
During a thunderstorm, a Cumulonimbus cloud is traveling approximately at 25 MPH. The distance between its base and its peak may be much greater than the distance from its base to earth. As the cloud is passing above, its base's negative electric field repels negative particles on the surface of the earth below. The surface of the earth now has a positive polarity and begins to excel an attraction pull on the negative charge at the base of the cloud. The cloud starts emitting a channel of negative charge called "stepped leader."
A stepped leader is approximately 50 feet in length, and it races towards earth at 186,000 miles per second. At this speed, and due to friction, the air around it becomes rarefied, and turns white hot. As the air heats up around the stepped leader, it expands faster than the speed of sound. The thunder you hear is caused by this super heated air as it creates a supersonic shock wave at the moment of instant expansion.
The step leader exhaust itself due to the tremendous energy spent super heating this air channel. Another stepped leader will instantly take its place as it travels downward towards the earth. This is why you hear the crackling sound before the thunder, as these multiple stepped leaders are expanding and collapsing as they prepare the electrical channel the return stroke will use to transfer electricity.
The negative charged stepped leaders are racing toward earth. As they approach, negative charges on the earth surface, are being repelled. The target is becoming more positive, and is exerting a more powerful pull on incoming stepped leaders. Suddenly a positive charge channel of energy called "streamer" leaps from earth, jumps in the air 100-300 feet, and meets the incoming stepped leader. A lighting strike has just occurred and an amazing amount of power is traveling from the earth towards the cloud looking to dissipate all its energy. This inrush of energy is called a return stroke, or lightning bolt.
The return stroke is the most brilliant part of the entire process. Often you see a solid white connecting the cloud to the earth. This brilliant light is much brighter than the light emitted by the stepped leaders.
The glow of lightning is formed by an average of 50,000 amps traveling at the speed of light and turning the air so hot that it glows bright white.
A lightning bolt may generate between 40 million to almost a billion volts of electricity.
The temperature of a lightning stroke or bolt is about 51,000 degrees fahrenheit. This is almost five times the temperature of the surface of the sun at 11,500 degrees fahrenheit.
An average of 750 people are struck by lightning in United States every year, and 74 of those die.
Lightning stepped leaders have an average diameter of .75 inches.
The average lightning path distance is five miles.
Florida has an average of 900,000 lightning strikes every year.
Humans are most likely to be killed by lightning if they are in open fields, open waters, or under trees during a storm.
No place is 100% safe when it comes to lightning strikes. But large buildings with good lightning protection systems are generally the best places to be.
In order to minimize the probability of having your home or building damaged by a lighting strike, several items should be taken under consideration. The objective is to preserve your building, safeguard human life, and diminish damage to electronic entertainment systems as well as other household appliances.
To preserve the building, an exterior lightning protection system could be installed. Usually this lightning protection system consists on lightning rods installed at specific location throughout the roof of the building. These lightning rods, called air terminals, are connected together by a heavy gage electrical conductor, which is then grounded with a special ground bar sunk deep into the ground.
A lightning protection system will prevent lighting from striking your building and potentially setting it on fire. Lightning instead lands on the air terminals and are safely routed to ground. The energy of the lightning bolt is then dissipated deep into the ground, never interacting with your building or its electrical system.
At times lightning does not strike the building directly, but travels to the building via side flash; for example, when lightning hits a tree next to your home, then jumps and hits your wall and enter your electrical system.
When lighting enters your home in such a fashion, your lightning rods, or air terminals on the roof will not protect your home. This is why it is necessary to also install primary surge protection systems in your main electrical panel, and throughout your home at each point where your appliances are plugged into the electrical sockets.
Lightning can also hit the overhead electrical power lines and then travel to your home via this wires. They enter your home through the main electrical service, and then proceed to cause damage to whatever electrical system is in its path.
Often times, lightning travels to your home via your cable TV. Lightning can strike the over cables and transmit the surge through the receiver circuits of your entertainment system. Usually the HDMI circuits are the first ones to go, as they are the most sensitive and are not able to withstand these powerful surges. Once the surge destroys these circuits, your entire entertainment system fails and no longer works.
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