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How Steel Buildings Resist Lightning

The Shocking Truth About Metal Buildings in Thunderstorms

Contrary to urban myth, steel buildings resist lightning, not attract it. The height of a structure, not the framing material, determines the probability of a direct lightning strike. The taller the building, the greater the risk that lightning might hit it.

Conductible Steel Buildings Resist Lightning Damage

Graphic representation of a lightning bolt coming close to a steel building but not hitting it.Lightning is nothing more than super-charged electricity. A single lightning bolt generates up to 100 million electrical volts!

All building materials either conduct or resist current. The less the resistance to electricity, the less likely structural damage will occur. Steel conducts current far better than wood. Properly grounded, a metal building permits lightning current to pass harmlessly through the framing and into the ground.

Wood, on the other hand, offers so much resistance that current often flashes outward, striking objects or people nearby. Why do you think they tell you never stand under a tree in an electrical storm?

Consequently, a pre-engineered building with good lightning protection design is actually less likely to suffer lightning inflicted damage than a lumber-framed structure.

Structural Fires Sparked by Lightning

Lightning costs stagger the mind:

  • The National Lightning Safety Institute puts annual lightning losses in the U.S. at $8 to $10 billion.
  • Each year U.S. firefighters battle 22,600 structure fires caused by lightning.
  • Lightning is the culprit in 30% of church fires, 19% of residential fires, 18% of lumberyard blazes, 14% of outdoor burns, and 7% of non-residential structural fires.

A clock ticks on this infographic that shows how often and how deadly fires are in the U.S.Combustible wood framing is far more likely to ignite into flames when lightning strikes than non-combustible steel framing. Compounding the problem, wood framing feeds a fire. Steel framing does not burn nor fuel a blaze.

Rigid-iron steel framing does not begin to lose its strength until a fire reaches 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Light-gauge steel loses its structural integrity in a fire much faster, and may suddenly collapse without warning.

Consequently, most insurance carriers award sizeable discounts to commercial-grade steel buildings with good lightning protection designs.

Premiere Building Systems from RHINO

Steel buildings resist lightning damage and subsequent fires better than any other building system. However, thwarting damage from Nature’s savage fury is just one of the many advantages of RHINO Steel Building Systems. Our premium grade metal buildings are not only non-combustible, but also more resistant to damage by snow, wind, earthquakes, mold, and termites.

Learn more today about our lightning protective designs. Call the RHINO Steel Hotline now at 940.383.9566. Discover the wonders of RHINO versatile, affordable, long-lasting metal buildings.