During the summer storm season, a store owner has to worry about losing power, losing days to hurricane closures, or even flooding. But one of the most underestimated hazards to doing business is lightning.
Lightning can strike your business directly. It can also travel through the ground, trees, plumbing or wires into your building. No area has a natural protection against lightning or storms, and a lightning bolt can travel 10 or more miles from a thunderstorm before striking the ground.
The best protection during an intense lightning storm is simply to unplug your costly equipment, such as computers. But you can’t always be around to pull the plug when a storm rolls through.
A lightning strike, which can be as strong as a billion volts, might just zap your power temporarily, or it might fry many of your electronics and appliances. With temperatures reaching more than 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, a lightning strike could easily start a fire.
A surge protector (a protected power strip) offers minimal protection for computers and other electric devices. You might consider, in addition to these small protective power strips, a comprehensive lightning protection system.
A lightning protector consists of a metal strip or rod that conducts electricity and creates a pathway to the ground via a downconductor. Downconductors should never be painted, because paint will decrease their ability to conduct electricity. They should be installed on the outside of the structure along a safe path.
Surge arrestors placed on your business’ power box also can prevent electricity from surging into your store.
Installing a lightning protection system may be an investment of a few thousand dollars, but it might also earn you a break on your insurance or even an installation incentive. Check with your provider. It may also come with its own protection: a warranty against damage caused by lightning if it fails.
Make sure the installer is listed by Underwriters Laboratories and certified by the Lightning Protection Institute. Shoddy installation can increase the danger of lightning damaging your structure. Lightning protection systems aren’t the purview of the general contractor. Check out ratings of your installer on a reliable site.
Also consider having the system professionally inspected; learn more from the Lightning Protection Institute here.
Once you have a system installed, schedule periodic inspections of the equipment, and always do an inspection after roof renovations, electrical work, heating and air-conditioning changes and satellite dish installation.
Read the answers to commonly asked questions about lightning protection on the Lightning Protection Institute site.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]