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Author Topic: PRACTICAL LIGHTNING PROTECTION  (Read 4689 times)
N9LCD
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Posts: 181




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« on: November 05, 2012, 07:32:25 PM »

We moved in to our new house about a month ago and I'm hard at work -- planning antenna installations.

I tried installing an antenna it our old house.  Studied he League manuals.  Lots of theory and what SHOULD BE done.   I tried "helpful" ham from my radio club.  "Lightning protection?  Why do you need that?  I don't have any."  Talked to commercial lightning protection specialists.  "We're fully bonded and insured; we do everything to NEC standards or better.  Oh, yeah!  Maybe about five thou..."

I'm planning for a VHF-UHF discone antenna and a terminated folded dipole for HF.  Please, no questioning my choice of antennas.

Given that a "direct hit" by lightning probably will wipe-out my lightning protection and my gear,  what can be done for practical and reasonable lightning protection?

N9LCD     
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K6AER
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2012, 08:55:00 PM »

Go to the Polyphaser site and read. Lightning protection including ground rods, rods on the roof, surge protection for AC, phone, cable and antenna cables can be done well under $1000. I just take a bit of work.
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KE6EE
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2012, 08:58:07 PM »

I think the below presents the most useful and practical information in a very clear way:

www.w8ji.com/house_ground_layouts.htm
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K0ZN
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« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2012, 09:22:09 PM »

The effectiveness of your protection will be equal to the effort and financial investment you want to put in to it. There is a lot of good guidance out there; how much of what is recommended that you want to install is your decision. The ball is really in your court. You have to define "practical".

Based on the two antennas you mention, I would think you could get decent basic protection for a couple hundred dollars. Again, it depends on how much you are willing to spend on cable gauge, number and/or type of ground rods, interface bonding with utility lines, etc. and how extensive you want to make the system. Do you want to put rods and protection on the building?

73,  K0ZN
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N4CR
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Posts: 1694




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« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2012, 09:39:01 PM »

How much lightning do you get a year?

Not that it makes a difference how you create a lightning ground, but it does have some bearing on if it's necessary and how soon. There are parts of this country that lightning is rare any time of the year.

I'm in Florida and we have lightning like rabbits have offspring. Right now, we're headed into fall and lightning is much more rare in the cooler months. It's probably the same or less where you are.

Antennas don't attract lightning. The chances of getting hit by lightning are marginally greater with an antenna than without one. The difference is that your antenna will have feed line and that will try to bring the lightning voltage/current into your living area. The work you do to protect against that is to limit how much that happens inside your residence.

The resource linked above to the W8JI single point ground is very good as is the suggestion to go read the Polyphaser documentation. There's also some pretty good resources on lightning protection from the military if you go search them out.

Commercial sites rely on single point ground systems to keep the damage to a minimum. They don't disconnect during lightning storms.
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73 de N4CR, Phil

Never believe an atom. They make up everything.
K1CJS
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Posts: 6055




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« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2012, 04:30:47 AM »

If you get hit by lightning--a direct hit--you're going to have some damage.  Period.  There is no getting around that fact.

The thing is to keep that damage out of your shack/house.  Depending on soil conditions, that means multiple ground rods and commercial grade lightning protection on your incoming cables, such as ICE or polyphasor protection.  You want to 'invite' the charge to go to your ground system rather than going into your home.  To do that, you've got to have a grounding system that will provide the best, lowest resistance path to ground.  It may cost you a few bucks, but consultation with the power company or an experienced antenna/tower installation company that is familiar with your area is the best first step.  Find out how conductive the soil is in your area and how far you have to go--how many ground rods and where to place them--to provide the protection you're after.
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N9LCD
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« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2012, 12:18:12 PM »

Thank-you to all the hams who took time to reply.  W8JI's article ranks up there at the top for presentation and communication.  I have some literature coming from Polyphaser.

Since there won't be any rotators, mast-mounted preamps or remote antenna tuners, my first concern will be protecting the coax coming into the shack.

Is the present level of protection on the power and phone lines adequate protection?  We're looking at two pieces of gear that won't be interconnected or won't interface to the phone lines. 

I've always unplugged all gear at night.  Is unplugging the power and disconnecting the antennas enough protection with lightning protection on the incoming coax?

Thanks & 73!

N9LCD
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