Lightning seems mysterious. Awesome in power and seemingly random in its execution, lightning strikes cause $4-5 billion in damage each year, according to NOAA. But the mystery of lightning can be understood, and the risk of damage can be managed, when science and engineering are applied to the problem.
Puckett Engineering has provided lightning studies and design for lightning strike protection on many projects, from churches to data centers. Churches are often vulnerable because they tend to grow by adding new buildings for education, gymnasiums, or worship centers. With the advent of digitally controlled HVAC, PA systems, security, and network cabling, it presents a huge vulnerability for lightning damage.
When two or more buildings share network wires, HVAC and alarm control wires, and other cabling, but are not bonded together and grounded as a single structure, the mega-voltage from a lightning strike will seek ground through whatever pathway it can find. If it travels through network or control wires, look out! Damage in the thousands of dollars can result from a single strike, not counting the downtime.
The photos and illustrations on this page are from Puckett Engineering’s lightning study and protection project for Gladeville Baptist Church in Gladeville, TN.