Lightning Rods

Avoid lightning strikes and protect your garden

Although lightning storms are some of the most spectacular sights that nature can present, lightning is a real danger to a home and garden. What can you do to ensure that your house is safer? Lightning rods are beautiful pieces of garden decor that can also help you protect your garden structures and home from the dangers of lightning.

The rods work by diverting lightning away from structures. A lightning rod is essentially a simple, pointed metal rod that attracts lightning and drives it underground to a copper or steel cable that's been buried there. This practice is reminiscent of Benjamin Franklin's experiment with his key and kite.

A lightning protection system helps to keep your house and electronics from being struck and ruined. Many people who live in stormy climates use these as decorative, yet functional roof ornaments.

Lightning Rods

The lightning rod as it is today was originally invented by Benjamin Franklin, but some churches historically used a variation of it because the church in earlier times was often the highest point of a city. Churches were wooden, or they had timber roofs, so lightning was often the biggest fear of parish priests. However, the lightning rods used in olden times were not grounded and actually served to just attract more lightning. A way to discourage lightning was through ringing the church bells, but this wasn't used often since ringing bells signaled either mass or danger. It wasn't until Franklin introduced the concept of a grounded lightning rod and was met with controversy that the Church finally decided to include lightning rods on their buildings.

Today, many people have shining copper or steel rods on their roofs as protection, but you can get a purely decorative rod as a finial for your rooftop. These include colored gazing balls made of steel or ceramic and can be quite intricately wrought. A decorative lightning rod kit will include the rod, the ornaments, the scroll base and the grounding equipment. If you have an existing lightning rod, you can buy just the ornaments.

It's best to have a professional install your lightning rod because it can be hard to ground the rod properly. Most rods fit just fine on roof pitches, but include very meticulous instructions that can be difficult to follow. Some cities have bylaws that detail the exact specifications for height and spacing. A professional will be able to install your rod correctly so that you won't experience any problems later on.

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