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Q & A: Energy of a Lightning Strike

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Most recent answer: 09/28/2010
Q:
i am doing a presentation and need to find out "how much energy there is in a lightning strike?" i have done research and have found very little i was wondering if you have information that will help me in my work? thanks
- lee curtis (age 18)
university of teesside, england
A:
Dear Lee,
The energy of an average 3 mile-long lightning strike is one billion to ten billion joules. To keep a 100-watt light bulb going for one second, one hundred joules of energy will be used. With one billion joules, the light bulb will be lit for 116 days.

(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-Up #1: Protection against lightning strikes

Q:
If the average lightning strike carries hundreds of millions of joules of energy, and since the average homeowner doesn't connnect Lightning Rods around their homes, what protection is their from premium-prioed surge protectors ?
- gregory battaglia
East Meadow, NY USA
A:
Surge protectors will work for modest to even not-so-modest line voltage excursions. But if your house gets hit by lightning your equipment is dead meat.   I know, I've been there.  The lightning even fried some of the wires I had strung in the house.  They just vaporized.
You have two alternatives:  buy lightning rods or buy some more insurance.  A decent surge protector is still worth the money, it just doesn't work for direct strikes. 

LeeH


(published on 09/28/2010)

Follow-up on this answer.