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Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:   (doi:10.13031/2013.17774) in Lightning and Lightning Protection. Chapter 14 in Fundamentals of Electricity for Agriculture, 3rd edition, 363-377. St. Joseph, Michigan: ASAE. . Copyright 2004 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Mich.
Authors:   Gustafson, Robert J., and Mark T. Morgan
Keywords:   The Nature of Lightning, Principles of Lightning Protection, Protection of Buildings, Protection of Sensitive Equipment, Protection of Trees, Protection of Livestock, Grounding Wire Fences, Risk Assessment for Structures, Personal Safety, Design and Installation of Lightning Protection

Lightning is the visible discharge of static electricity within a cloud, between clouds, or between the earth and a cloud. It is one of natures most destructive forces. Lightning is the largest single cause of fire in suburban and rural areas, and it kills more people than tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods combined. Lightning also causes more than 80% of all accidental losses of livestock. Damage results in three ways:

  • Electromagnetic fields from the lightning stroke,
  • Voltage differentials in grounding systems, and
  • Structural damage from heat or mechanical forces.
The damage can be attributed to insufficient direct stroke protection, inappropriate grounding and bonding, and deficient transient voltage surge suppression (TVSS) protection. The following sections will describe the basic nature and action of lightning and consider the measures needed to protect buildings, equipment, livestock, trees, and people from lightning.

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