April 10, 2014 — It’s unlikely that you’d hire a roofer to service your appliance repairs or contract with a plumber to handle electrical wiring for your home or business. So, isn’t it common sense to apply the same logic for your lightning protection system installations? After all, a single bolt of lightning can generate up to 200 kA of electrical energy. Grounding for that magnitude of electricity requires special expertise and strict adherence to safety standards. Surely, it’s important to insist on quality control when allocating money to protect your important investments against mega electricity!
Lightning protection specialists aren’t the only professionals communicating reminders about quality control. The International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI) reiterated the importance of LPI-certified and UL listed installers for lightning protection applications. IAEI devoted a new chapter called “The Fundamentals of Lightning Protection” to its 10th edition of the “Soares Book on Grounding and Bonding” in 2008, which was updated and expanded in the 11th edition, released in 2011. The handbook now includes a reminder to electrical contractors that “installation of a lightning protection system is much different from the installation of electrical service wiring.” (Remember, there’s electricity and then there’s mega LIGHTNING electricity!)
According to the Soares handbook: “specialized material and installation methods such as that specified in NFPA 780 and UL 96 are required and the system should only be installed by qualified personnel trained and certified in the installation of lightning protection systems.”
A third-party, independent lightning protection inspection service, such as UL or the LPI-IP Inspection Program can ensure quality control for residential and commercial systems. The LPI-IP Inspection Program is serving a growing need for property owners, insurers and builders as a comprehensive third-party quality control approach for commercial and residential lightning protection projects. The LPI-IP Inspection Program is accepted in MasterSpec as a quality control inspection option for lightning protection. More information about the program is available at the LPI-IP web site at www.lpi-ip.com.
Lightning protection is a specialty service, so electricians, roofers and general contractors aren’t the best sources for up-to-date information about lightning protection. Business and homeowners need to contact an experienced, LPI-certified lightning protection specialist for reliable service that meets industry requirements. The LPI-certified specialist will know how to interpret the safety standards, as well as provide the proper third-party inspection requirements for quality assurance closeout.
Perhaps Benjamin Franklin, the inventor of the first lightning rod, provided the best advice about quality control when he said, “Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.”
Yes, the devil is often in the details, so don’t let April thundershowers sink your ship! Stay ahead of the storm by insisting on quality lightning protection from a reputable, experienced specialist to safeguard those property investments; especially your home, trees and business structures.