Container Home Lightning Strikes?

I spent the first decade of my work life in construction and because of that I am very familiar with traditional stick framed homes, but don’t know a lot about container homes. One thing that I was unsure of is how well container homes do if struck by lightning, and if anything is added to them to create a lightning rod to protect the home.

If your container home is sitting directly on the ground then there is a very small risk of a lightning strike hitting, electrocution, or damage to the interior as the electricity will follow the container to the ground. It will act as a Faraday Shield.

Having your container home on concrete, wood, or even tires is a better option in the long run to get more life out of your container. Having it off the ground will keep it from rusting from the ground in, but a lightning rod should be added so that the lightning has a direct route to the earth.

As long as you don’t touch anything in the interior that connects or is fastened to the exterior of the container you would be fine in the event of a lightning strike. A lightning rod can also be added to your home to help protect it even more. 

What is a Lightning Rod?

Lightning strikes are extremely arbitrary and random.  There are records of lightning traveling 40 miles from the cloud sources and causing injuries and death.  Average temperatures from a lightning strike are in 50,000-degree F range.

A lightning rod protects a building from lightning strikes by directing the electricity down it and into the ground. It is a pointed metal rod that is attached to the roof of a building.

It then connects to a piece of copper wire that is in turn connected to a conductive grid that is buried in the ground close by.

A lot of people misunderstand the purpose of a lightning rod.  Some people believe that lightning rods attract lightning.  They actually provide a low-resistance path to the ground. Lightning will always seek out the fastest way to the ground.

If lightning does strike, the system works by carrying the harmful electrical current away from the home to the ground. The system is designed to handle enormous electrical currents that come with lightning strikes.

Who Can Install a Lightning Rod?

Some of our customers have installed lightning rods themselves.  We always recommend checking with a local contractor and/or your local building official as they can tell you if you need special permits, or if you need to have a licensed professional install it for you.

To install it yourself you will need air terminal rods, conductor cable, ground terminations, and surge arrestors.

You will need to determine where to place your groundings.  Depending on the size of the container you will need at least three.  If the perimeter of your house is larger than 350 feet you will need an additional grounding for every 100 feet.  If it is possible, the groundings should be at opposite corners of your home. 

Sierra Nevada Container Home

You will want to make sure that you scrape away any paint that will be in contact with your groundings.  This system works best if you can connect directly to the steel of the container.

The next step is to place the lightning rods at regular intervals, no more than twenty feet apart.  The end rods should be installed within one to two feet from the ends of the roof.

Add cable clamps or fasteners about every three feet. During the process you may wish to run the conductor cable along and down any features, such as moldings, gutters, etc., of the house for a more clean and neat looking installation job.

If possible, insert one of the ground rods near the electrical ground for the homes electrical system.  It’s also possible to bury the wire here if needed.

Use a heavy hammer to place the ground rod into the ground.  Or, if you went with a ground plate the other option at this point is to bury it in the ground.

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