Air terminals, also known as strike termination devices (STDs (yes, really)) and formerly known as lightning rods, have some new, non-conventional air terminals coming out that claim to either attract lightning to a certain point or avert a lightning strike in a protected area. The goal of these new products is to reduce the amount of money spent on time and material. Another advertised plus is that these new air terminals increase aesthetics because there are fewer metal objects randomly sticking off buildings.
Non-Conventional Air Terminals Don’t Work as Advertised.
An air terminal is a device that terminates the lightning strike, hence the term ‘strike termination device.’ From the air terminal, the lightning travels through aluminum or copper cable that carries the charge to the downrod and into the ground, averting dangerous charges from the structure being protected. An air terminal neither attracts nor averts electrical charge from the lightning strike.
These non-conventional air terminals have been tested time and time again, and, according to Electrical Business Magazine and the Lightning Protection Institute, “Unfortunately, the considered opinion of almost all independent scientists and public safety authorities is…using non-standard products do not provide the advantages claimed.” Non-conventional air terminals have been tested at the University of Florida and the data do not support the claims of the manufacturers making them.
Current theories state that there is no way to truly attract or avert a lightning strike. The only way to protect a structure is to protect the areas specified in the UL96a, NFPA 780, and LPI 175 with a conventional air terminal.
Don’t let someone try and put a non-conventional air terminal on your home. If you prefer something more aesthetically pleasing than a traditional air terminal, ask to see a catalog of decorative air terminals that fit within the code.