Modern Home Builder - Winter 2016 - Volume 2 - 14
Smart homes continue to increase in demand, and designers and architects can do
a lot to ensure homebuyers' investments are protected, especially against weather
threats like lightning.
The continued growth of sustainable energy technology, eco-friendly building materials and smart structure automation has necessitated upgrades and complex improvements to the electrical infrastructure of today's homes and
buildings. Smart structures, which are characterized by a
high degree of automation and various interconnected systems, typically rely on sophisticated energy collection methods. While these design models have included upgrades to increase resiliency from disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes
and flooding, lightning is often overlooked as a significant
weather threat - even though lightning hits the earth more
than 100 times a second.
A typical bolt of lightning can generate up to 200 kA of electrical energy, making the threat of fire from a direct strike or
an indirect electrical surge to homes and businesses very real,
and making lightning protection an important consideration
for inclusion in the smart structure building design process.
"Even though these automated systems are grounded, they are
still highly vulnerable to lightning, since a direct strike can spark
a fire and an indirect surge of current can pass through the wiring of a structure in any direction," says Bud VanSickle, executive
director for the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI). "Lightning
can initiate a domino effect path of transient overvoltage which
can disrupt, degrade and damage multiple electronic systems
and connected equipment, making lightning protection systems
significantly important for smart structures."
"As buildings become smarter, with intelligent systems, the
need for lightning protection becomes more critical," says Illya