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Newbies => Newbies => Topic started by: ThomasJ on April 29, 2012, 10:47:53 AM

Title: Lightning
Post by: ThomasJ on April 29, 2012, 10:47:53 AM
Something occured to me last night. I was mulling over my design options and it occured to me that if I put up a 40' tower to run a turbine, it would be the tallest thing in the field and would act as a giant lightning rod. I was curious, is there a system for protecting our work from lightning? It's a concern here because in the summertime, we get some wicked storms through here because the valley works like a bit of a funnel for weather systems
Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: Rob Beckers on April 30, 2012, 06:23:14 AM
Hi Thomas,

Being in the wind turbine business, and having that happen to a few customers, I asked myself the exact same question. I've written up the result here ( (5 very long Web pages with lots of references). The long-and-short of it is that yes, you can protect things from lightning, but it is not easy nor cheap. On the bright side, by following a few guidelines you can make a turbine install much more lightning proof than it would otherwise have been, without breaking the bank, even if survival of inverters and such is not always guaranteed.

In general though, I would suggest not to obsess too much about getting hit by lightning. It is actually pretty rare for small wind turbines (on 60 to 100' towers). In the cases mentioned above it was not the turbine that got hit, it was the ground nearby, and the strike current coupled into the well-pump wiring (for both of the two cases that I know about). From there it jumped to the grid and took out the inverter.

Hope this helps!

Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: ThomasJ on April 30, 2012, 11:23:09 AM
Rob, thanks for taking the time to put that together. Excellent information.
Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: dnix71 on January 06, 2014, 04:42:45 PM
It's the bolt coming up from the ground that blows things up. I made a lot of money one Saturday repairing a computerized concrete mixing setup in West Palm Beach. The bolt struck HV lines 1/2 mile away and came up under a mobile home outfitted to run the mixing controls. 3 APC battery backups were fried, along with some relays and a couple of transformers.

The mobile home was the lowest structure for miles, but that's what took the most damage.
Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: MaryAlana on January 07, 2014, 02:15:07 PM
1 ground rod at the tower base and 4 more spaced out in a circle with a radius twice the ground rod length. All rods bonded together with 1/0 copper that is welded. The more rods you add going out in each direction from the tower the greater the dissipation of a strike. This looks like a + when put together. Add high quality lightning arrestors to everything electronic and you can survive a direct hit, radio/tv stations do it all the time
Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: Harold in CR on October 18, 2016, 03:18:16 PM
I know this thread is old but I think my story is relevant.  I believe it backs up dnix's post, above. If deemed not relevant, move it to where you want it, or not.

  Wife nearly died Sunday Night

 It was a typical Rainy season night. Medium density rain falling,
little bit of wind, and the sound of thunder in the distance. Wife
was preparing clothes to be ironed.

 Instead, she decided to make hot chocolate for us. I had already
disconnected all the electronics from the outlets, computer, modem,
UPS, television, and amplifers from the external antenna, outside.

Lights were blinking, as usual, and we were as content as possible.
I was sitting in my favorite chair at the computer desk, when, SNAP
lightning hit something, DAMN close. Wife yelped, as usual, and I
turned and looked at her. She was standing by the stack of clothes piled
on a bar stool type chair I had built, and the house was filling with
the odor of burnt plastic and ozone. I grabbed a flashlight and started
searching for smoke or fire. Wife was kinda slumped on the stack of clothes
and seemed fine, so, I went out the back door and looked toward the shop.
All was dark, no fire. Came back in the house and wife was slumping more toward
the floor and had moved about 6 feet to another chair, presumably to sit in.
She was making weird sounds and having trouble breathing. Then, she slid down toward
the floor and caught her chin on the chair and was choking. I grabbed her and
it was like trying to move a sack of water. Limp as could be. She had 1 foot caught
in the toe kick of a portable island cabinet I built, and I had quite a time getting
it loose.

 Finally, I had her propped against the base cabinets in the kitchen and sitting on
the floor.She had difficulty breathing and heart was beating probably just below fibrillation.
I ran to check more areas as the odor was very strong and I suspected to find fire, somewhere.
Ran back to check on wife and she was in dire straits. I moved/dragged her into the living room
and managed to get her on the sofa.She only weighs 95 pounds, but, being limp, felt like 500
pounds. Went to the phone to call for help and, of course, it was dead. Went back and wife was breathing a little
easier,and heart rate was down some. She has a valve problem as it is.

 After a bit she was not comfortable, so, wanted to get on her rocking chair. Don't think THAT wasn't a fun deal.
Anyway, an hour or so later, I talked her into laying on the bed, to reduce pressure from sitting. She was hurting
badly and arms and legs wouldn't work. So, I got her up and dragged her into the bedroom and onto the bed.

 Took a final look all around, and, finding NO smoke, sat down to catch my breath. Kept checking on her throughout
the night and she is still recovering. Turns out, she was in the fridge and had reached out to close the door when
she was zapped by the lightning strike. This is in the middle of the house, roughly. She said yesterday, she was lifted
off the floor and saw an arc oflightning jump between her knees. There is no sign of burning
anywhere on her. She is mostly fine, just weak as water.

 Yesterday, I went outside and checked all the wires, especially the phone line. Everything is fine. What the hell ??
Happened to glance over at the TV antenna, and could not make out the co/ax going from the metal pole to the house.
Went and took a better look, and, the section of co/ax, about 6' long, was laying on the ground. Lightning had hit it somethere
and burned it off at the pole and at the roofline of the house.We just put a new metal roof on this summer. There is a hole
in the metal roof that I could probably stick a pencil through, and the section of cable was burned in 3 areas. I went in the house
and pulled the pre amp out from behind the brand new TV, and saw soot on the table/shelf. The pre amp was burned up inside.

 Now, all you engineers and such, how the hell did lightning get from there, to about 18' away with no cable in the area, and strike the wife ???
I'm thinking it was a big static charge, but, why from the fridge and to her through the cement/ceramic tile floor ??
Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: Mary B on October 18, 2016, 05:54:18 PM
Jumped to the house electrical ground and to the fridge... I repaired electronics for 30+ years and saw lighting do a lot of weird things. Worst was a hit on a TV antenna that was 12 feet above a bathroom. The arc went through the roof to the copper pipes in the bathroom and the water in them flashed to steam and blew the pipes... the coax coming down the wall was burned off at every staple holding it on the wall and the siding was burned around the staples. Every last piece of electrical or electronic gear in the house was fried and they had to replumb, rewire, and all new drywall from the third floor water leak... When the electricians went to pull the 14-2 out of the walls it was burnt off in multiple spots. They got lucky and no house fore from it! Had to reroof the house too because it blew the shingles off the side the coax went down. I used to have pictures of that hung up in the shop as a warning to people to disconnect EVERYTHING electrical during thunderstorms, including appliances.

PS: Pull the outlet cover off that the preamp would have been plugged into and make sure nothing in that socket shows arcing. If it does I would check all the outlets in the house for signs of an arc.
Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: Harold in CR on October 18, 2016, 09:58:13 PM

 Mary, everything in the house was unplugged except the fridge and stove. Amps were not plugged into the outlets, nothing was except the fridge and stove.

 Wife said both feet were raised off the floor and there was no sign of anything on her being burned or marked. Said she felt fine above her knees except fast heart rate and terrible time breathing.

 I have checked the outlet from the fridge. Nothing showing up ?
Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: george65 on October 19, 2016, 12:00:42 AM

I hope you wife is OK. That must have been terrifying.  I notice you make no mention of having her checked out by a doctor, Hope you did that.
I remember my wife taking a bad epileptic fit just after we were married. I had a cousin that used to take them so I had seen them plenty of times before but to wake up next to your wife foaming at the mouth and shaking like she is going to shake the bed frame apart was a horror that will always stay with me. She never had them before so was not at all expected and took a few moments at 3am to figure out what was going on.

I too used to think that tall things attracted lightning but there are enough Vids on YT of lightning to show that's not always true and that lightening can come from the ground UP!

I was at my fathers place about a year ago now in his big metal shed watching a severe thunderstorm roll over. Tt one point I looked up and could see a swirling like a cyclone eye right over the top of us. That was a new experience.  At about the same time, there was this pink flash behind and to the side of us I just caught out the corner of my eye and we felt the charge go right through us from head to toe. It wasn't anything severe but I think the humidity and spray in the air conducted some of the power.  I was filming on my go pro at the time and it switched itself straight off.
The strike was close because we pretty much heard the bang before we saw the flash.  The sound was incredible even to my father who is partially deaf.

We had a lot of electricals and electronics running at the time but didn't have any problem what so ever. Lucky I guess.

I went looking around the next day for where the strike hit but couldn't find anything.  Might have hit the water on the dam for all I know or the trees but I saw the flash, what I did, at ground level.
My father was leaning on a pole in the shed just before and I made him come sit in a chair I put in the middle of the shed as far away from anything as possible.  There are 80Ft high trees all around but I knew that was no guarantee of safety.

It's a long time since I have been scared of a storm but I don't mind admitting I was getting pretty edgy that day.  Of course an hour later the rain and cloud was gone, the sun came out and it was a lovely clean, clear afternoon.
Amazing how weather can turn so fast.
Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: Mary B on October 19, 2016, 02:56:31 PM
That lightning strike just traversed thousands of feet of open air. Sure you unplugged BUT that cord was laying how far from the outlet? The energy from the strike could have jumped from the unplugged cord to the house electrical system. Also the concrete itself can act as a ground system and it will rise in voltage during a strike, it could have been conducted that way also. The outlet that needs checking is where the TV preamp plugs in to make sure the strike didn't jump to it.

I have a very extensive ground system with my ham radio stuff including EMP grade lightning suppressors on every antenna cable entering the house(there are a half dozen!) and the rotor cables are also grounded outside before entering with the same quality equipment. I have still watched strike energy jump from disconnected cables to the ground bar I lay them on during storms! 

 Mary, everything in the house was unplugged except the fridge and stove. Amps were not plugged into the outlets, nothing was except the fridge and stove.

 Wife said both feet were raised off the floor and there was no sign of anything on her being burned or marked. Said she felt fine above her knees except fast heart rate and terrible time breathing.

 I have checked the outlet from the fridge. Nothing showing up ?
Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: Harold in CR on October 19, 2016, 04:22:38 PM

 Thanks for that latest info, Mary. I just pulled the outlet and looked it over very carefully, including inside the plastic wall box. Everything looks perfectly clean and OK. I will install more ground rods in that configuration you posted earlier.

 Down here, the ground rods sold are 6' long and extremely cheap quality. I had to pick through 3 different ones to find one that had copper covering all the steel.  ::)  The clamps are steel. I imported brass clamps to redo the rods at the house. At the power company I worked at, we had threaded rods and brass drive couplings. Purpose was to get 3 of the 8' rods driven deep into the sandy ground. Sometimes it was difficult to get 1 totally driven down. Here, they are just a smooth rod with a hammered point.
Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: SparWeb on October 19, 2016, 07:49:06 PM
Just want to wish your wife a full recovery.  She was lucky to have you there.

Lightning goes where it wants to. There's no reasoning with it. 
We humans can only make pitiful efforts to persuade it to stay away from one thing, by sacrificing another.

Reminds me: I need to add a lightning arrester on the broadband internet antenna I just put on my house.
Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: clockmanFRA on October 20, 2016, 01:34:17 AM
Just a personnel observation over the past 10 years here in Normandy, France.

Thunder storms are normal here every year and strikes on the ground are common.

Interestingly I used to disconnect everything, and think 'if the wind turbines are going to get it they are going to get it'.

We have Sheep with a battery operated electric fence, 4 strand type, normally around our properties with about a 2 mile run.
The first time, Just before a lightning storm got here, I noticed the sheep fence was shorting out all over the place at the top end of the field. I went over and looked and the short sparks were jumping a good distance to grass tips and other vegetation that were normally way beyond short out range.

The atmosphere was incredibly humid and those big rain drops were starting to fall, so I ran for shelter.  We can see the rain coming on the other side of the valley.

I Stopped turned round and BAM! the next door field apple tree got it, the next instance my sheep electric fence was no longer sparking.

I therefore conclude that my sheep fence is discharging, at a very local level, the ionization ground layer, so the lightning goes elsewhere, well that's my theory.

Seems to do it every year or so.

Any one else observe the battery electric fence phenomenon.?

Also here in France its regs to have a 5ft long 3/4 inch diameter copper earth rod driven into the ground for every building with electrical 230vac supply. So possibly a reason why there are not many strikes on buildings here.

Just my 2 penny worth.


Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: DanG on October 20, 2016, 09:04:48 AM
Before a strike there are thousands of leaders all competing to be the easiest path for the main discharge... Sounds like your Missus only 'rode' the potential as one or more of them were sampling the house & contents before they collapsed back when the full potential was released elsewhere.

One thing - get shocked by gobsmack energy and it erases electrolytes ; the nerves chords & muscles get disrupted as ion channels in the nerve fibers are depleted by electricity. This is where hospitalization and an overnight ECG/EKG reading is important, there is the possibility heart activity and respiration can 'collapse' many hours after the event...

Wow, been eleven years already?  Here is a post on my little tango with lightning:,134134.msg879731.html#msg879731
Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: dnix71 on October 20, 2016, 06:08:09 PM
I'm with DanG on this. I made a lot of money one Saturday repairing a cement mixing plant that was struck by lightning while  the operator was at his desk. The mixing tower 200 feet away was the high point struck, but something came up from the ground under the mobile home trailer he was working in that controls the tower.
3 APC ups's were wiped out as was the ceramic one-shot protectors on the transfomer supplying the main control board and a couple of relays mounted on the wall behind him. The computers, refrigerator, phones and lights were fine. I would not have wanted to be in that room when the return stroke came up from the ground under my feet.
I hope your wife fully recovers from this.
Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: Harold in CR on October 21, 2016, 04:38:30 PM

 Thanks very much for the well wishes, everyone. \

 Wife went to the city for the EKG but arrived way too late for her appointment.  That's another story.  ::) ::)

 Anyway, some 11 years ago, she poisoned herself with some very toxic ant killer, and, what it does, is, steadily bleeds off the vitamins and minerals in her body. An example, I called her last night, I just arrived in Fl yesterday, and she went to the clinic, Canadian type health care in CR, and they gave her 5, yes, 5 large size, probably quart size bags of electrolyte. Quick blood test showed "0" blood sugar.  Yeah, she has been living on the edge for some time. Also, the Dr said she had "high" electrical readings ???  How the hell do they check electric in the human body ?

 I have been helping my Son catch up from Hurricane related jobs, so, I REALLY need to call her and check up.  Maybe some updates later today.   Thanks again, all,  Harold
Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: Mary B on October 21, 2016, 06:11:45 PM
EKG will show noise if your electrical system is whacked... They always complain doing mine because my system seems to generate extra electrical noise
Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: Harold in CR on October 24, 2016, 05:18:13 AM

 DanG was right on the money. Wife was tested and had no electrolytes. Dr couldn't believe she walked 1/2 mile to the clinic. They put 5 bags of electrolyte in her and her blood sugar was non- existent. Talked with her for 20 minutes and she never stopped talking. Sounds like she is back to normal.  ::) ;D
Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: george65 on October 24, 2016, 07:24:14 AM

She can have some of My blood sugar!
Had a test the other day and came back with a 16 after fasting.  Diabetes is a bitch!

Back to the specialist for a Butt kicking and to the house of horrors ( gym) to get back in shape.
Bikini season is just around the corner here and I want to look my best !   ;D

My wife got really sick last year with a Flu she couldn't shake. After 4 trips to the doctor and she was still in a bad way one night, I took her to the hospital. Nearly had to carry her in. They put 3 bags of stuff in her, 2 were saline for dehydration and the other was something else. 3 hours later she fairly danced out of the place. Most amazing turn around in someone I have ever seen.
 Still took another week to get back to work though despite pumping all sorts of Drinks and tonics back into her and another trip to a different Doc. 
Title: Re: Lightning
Post by: boB on October 29, 2016, 05:59:24 PM

She can have some of My blood sugar!
Had a test the other day and came back with a 16 after fasting.  Diabetes is a bitch!

George, you mean your A1C = 16 ? That IS high !  (if that's what you're talking about)
 Of course, fasting isn't necessary for an A1C test but is for fasting blood glucose.

just wondering ..