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Device to Prevent Lightning Strike?

Question: I've been a member of the Lightning Protection group for some time and try to follow the postings as my time permits. I need your opinion regarding a lightning protection system.

While searching for "lightning" and "lightning protection" topics, I found a company called "Lightning Experts". They say that their product PPD (Passive Point Discharge) is different from typical Early Streamer Emission (ESE) devices, in that it does not attract lightning strokes, but rather makes the protected building "invisible to lightning".

The product appears satisfactory to me but I couldn't find any certificates or quality standard for the product. Has anyone heard about this product or the company?

Thank you all.

Erdem Berber

Answer: Dear Mr. Berber, the last time I heard about gadgets that make things "invisible", was when I read the Arabian Nights during my childhood. They then had a magic coat that makes the person invisible upon wearing it. He could then enter houses at will and do whatever he wanted without risk of being detected nor punished. Since you are from Turkey with connection to the same heritage, you probably read that story too.

While the claim of the vendor in your story is not exactly same as the above, it apparently belongs to the same class of nonsense. In any case, promoters of new theories, especially in this safety-related subject, should not take their claims to lay persons until they have first received acceptance of their theories from the scientific community at large. I should add here that even endorsement by one or a few scientists that have been hired and paid by the vendor would not constitute a valid basis for pushing such products unto the public.

Benjamin Franklin invented the simple lightning rod over 250 years ago. All the science-based improvements to date focused on how to place lightning conductors (rods and/or shield wires) to accomplish an effective economical design. Surge protection was added and became an integral part of the process of lightning protection when electrical, communication and electronic devices became part of our way of living.

It would definitely be a welcome development if better devices for protection against direct lightning strokes were invented. Unfortunately, all known new products so far have fallen into one of the following categories:

1) Devices like ESE lightning rods that make a marginal improvement in performance at a huge increase in cost. For these to be commercially viable, the user has to accept a drastic reduction in number of the air terminals. Vendors have attempted to accomplish that objective by making false claims regarding the extent of the zone of protection of their devices.

2) Devices that are claimed to prevent some or all potential direct lightning strikes from terminating on the structure. Again, the marginal performance of such gadgets, if any, does not justify the huge increase in cost, as the system still has to be capable of surviving direct lightning strikes.

In summary, while I have not heard about the local product that you mentioned, I definitely recommend that you ignore it and stick with proven conventional lightning protection systems.

Abdul M. Mousa, Ph.D., P. Eng., Fellow IEEE

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