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The characteristics of lightning

As a thunderstorm grows, electrical charges build up within the cloud. Oppositely charged particles gather in the ground below. The attraction between positive and negative charges quickly grows strong enough to overcome the air's resistance to electrical flow. Racing toward each other, they connect and complete the electrical circuit. Charge from the ground then surges upward at nearly one-third the speed of light and we see a bright flash of lightning.

This happens in 4 steps as follows;

  • Stepped leader, Within the cloud, Electrons which have a negative charge begin zigzagging downwards seeking the positive earth this is called a stepped leader.
  • Attraction, As the stepped leader nears the ground,it draws a streamer of positive charge upwards this is called a streamer.
  • Flowing charge, as the stepped leader and the streamer come together a powerful electric current begins to flow
  • Contact, An intense wave of positive charge travels upward at 60,000 miles per second this is called a stroke.

Here is a short animation courtesy of www.usatoday.com



Lightning damage

Lightning discharges are awesome and are claimed to have currents of up to 530,000 amps and  produce voltages in the magnitude of millions of volts  it has be suggested that the energy from 1 strike could light millions of 100watt light bulbs

Were lightning to strike a building without a structural lightning scheme, this energy would seek a path to earth through the fabric of the building in an erratic and un predictable manner. The building is likely to be damaged and may even catch fire.

Lightning protection systems

Our homes and properties can be insured and repaired if hit by lightning however injury or the loss of life is not so easily remedied. We need to seriously think about structural protection for when we inhabit our homes during a thunderstorm. This may not be as difficult as we might imagine.

 Today there are many products and systems available we use Furse Professional products and install this to a strict code BS6651 ‘Protection of structures against lightning’.

A typical system will have an air terminal, a copper conducting tape that is terminated to a grounding earth terminal. This will divert the lightning straight to the ground in a controlled manner.


The subject of lightning protection is so diverse I am only outlining the basic concept of it.

For more in-depth information on lightning protection please visit the Furse website


Case study

We were contracted to install a lightning conductor system in Tala near Paphos The client informed us that he had been struck by lightning seven times in the past and it had caused damage almost every time leading to building repairs luckily a fire never happened. 

On one occasion it had struck the supply cables and blew them off the wall, literally.

We installed a conductor system which ironically was put to the test the very next morning by a huge thunderstorm, (installed by man, tested by others)

we were told that you could hear the strike traveling through the conductor he said It made sound like a drawn out zing, we inspected the installation a few hours later and could find no trace of damage except where the conductor changed direction, The connecting plate had been lifted from the wall, screw, plug and all. This proved that the strike was grounded in a controlled manner. The structure was not damaged in any way.

Unfortunately electronic systems protection was not installed and the client lost a lot of valuable electronic equipment due to the secondary effects of lightning.

He was miffed to say the least and proceeded to move the satellite dish from the roof to the back garden. This just confirms that a combination of equipment must be installed to give complete protection.


If you feel that your property may be at risk then please contact us and we can discuss your options.

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Here is a story of a young couple that were struck by lightning in Essex ‘A teenaged couple have been describing how they were struck by lightning in a park in Essex. Sophie Frost and Mason Billington, both 14, were sheltering under a tree during a storm. Lightning struck and Sophie passed out as the current travelled through her iPod headphones, which were hanging from her school uniform, burning her chest and stomach. It then passed through Mason, who was holding her hand. He described what happened when the lightning struck’.







"You came to our rescue!
Firstly, fitting a much needed lightning conductor system and surge protector to our remote and exposed house. ", Nick and Mardie Lambert, Agios Dimitrianos

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