Outdoor Yard Lighting attracts Lightning

Well not really attracts lightning, but certainly allows for more pickup of lightning energy.

Last night on our Sunday Night Tech Net (Fauquier County, VA Repeater) a fellow named Bob brought up the topic of proper grounding for his upcoming coax fed 40 meter antenna. During the discussion about common ground points and other relating lightning protection possibilities, he recalled a story.

Seems , once upon a time, Bob installed some 120 Vac yard lighting around his property. The lighting worked quite well, but Bob immediately correlated a rise in damage to devices plugged into the ac power in his house with the installation of this yard lighting.

It would seem Bob inadvertently created a large antenna system which more efficiently coupled energy from lightning storms to his house wiring. Bob mentioned devices as simple as hair dryers were made useless by the surge energy.

The solution for Bob was to install good shunt protectors on his electrical distribution panel to quench the over voltage induced by lightning storms on his yard light wiring. Bob used MOV style protection.

The Polyphaser IS-PM240-xx is one option…

Polyphaser Surge Shunt Device for the house electical panel

For less protection and less money the Polyphaser PSP-240 may help…

Small Polyphaser Surge Protector

This year Virginia has been hit with many thunderstorms so lightning protection is a popular topic for ham radio folks as well as folks who are simply trying to beautify their yard with lighting. If you are considering extending the wiring in your home you are well advised to add protection like Bob did to protect your loved ones from the much larger antenna you have made. You might also consider low voltage lights and/or an isolation transformer between your house and outside lights. There may even be a NEC requirement for this, but I am not sure.

When in doubt, seek out the advice from a competent licensed electrician.

There is also a rumor warranties on big ticket items like washing machines, dryers, heat pumps, etc. do not cover damage caused by surges since you are “expected” to provide this protection for your house. When you look at things this way, the few hundred dollars spent on a good panel mounted surge protector is a real steal.

3 Responses to “Outdoor Yard Lighting attracts Lightning”

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  2. Outdoor Yard Lighting Attracts Lightning

    Outdoor yard lights can surprise the home owner with unwanted and destructive voltages when lightning is nearby.

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