What Attracts Lightning To A House?

Although it literally flashes before our eyes, nothing is as noticeable as lightning during a lightning storm or thunderstorm. A single lightning strike is said to be hotter than the core of the sun, so if a lightning strike lasted any longer than it does it would mean more doom for the places on which it strikes. Lightning can kill a person if they are directly struck by it. But you may ask yourself what it is exactly that attracts a lightning strike to anything, perhaps more often your house? Well it’s an interesting lesson, let’s find out more about lightning.

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Electrical Principle In Lightning

Thunderstorms are the storms that consist of thunder (the sound) and lightning (visible flash of light/electricity.) Although there are other weather phenomena you can spot lightning, a thunderstorm is the most common one. Lightning is a short but high voltage electrical discharge from within a cloud. Lightning is the result of cloud movement (which is essentially the negative charge in the cloud and we are able to see this negative charge when it discharges in the form of lightning.) The cloud(s) lose this negative charge (which builds up when the clouds are moving and rubbing against each other which is ground for exchanging electrical charges or commonly known simply as static electricity. But you will notice that during a thunderstorm not all clouds will give off lightning, that’s because these are the clouds that receive a positive charge when the clouds are rubbing against each other – moving due to wind patterns.) Lightning is the negative charge that was built up in a cloud and is finally discharged to a neutral subject (which is almost always on the ground) or other clouds in the sky with a positive charge.

Things That Attract Lightning

Lightning is an extremely powerful electrical discharge that produces (in a single lightning strike) up to 10 million volts. However lightning always strikes the thing with the path to least resistance (this is the thing that is closest to it, and not necessarily the material used in making the thing or object the lightning will strike.)

Lightning Strikes High Spots

A high spot can be on a mountain top, the tip of a tall tree or a house. This is the shortest path the lightning (or electrical discharge) moves from the clouds to the ground to complete a basic natural circuit. So a house can be the shortest path lightning has to travel to get to the ground and so it discharges or strikes.

Lightning Strikes Points

A point or tip allows the lightning discharged from a cloud to be concentrated. That is what led to the invention of the lightning rod and it is also why lightning will most likely strike a tree with a pointy top than one with a canopy top. A pointy top is essentially a weak spot for the lightning to strike and so it does, where the discharge will travel throughout the body of the object it strikes.

Houses Are Full Of Electrical Conductors

The electrical wiring that is used all over a house doesn’t do you any favors when there’s a thunderstorm. Lightning will often strike a house with plenty of electrical wiring (which is essentially every house) because lightning is an electrical charge. Although it discharges very powerfully/ forcefully from the clouds, there are still laws of electricity and magnetism that govern the lightning’s existence.

  • Lightning is a negative discharge and so if your house is neutrally charged or positively charged (due to the wiring and the fact that it is on the ground) it is most likely going to attract lightning directly to it. This is a law in electricity and magnetism (which are one and the same thing because one cannot exist without the other.)
  • The law states that like or similar electrical charges repel and opposite or different electrical charges attract. Whenever lightning strikes an object it is important to remember that it is because it might have a different or opposite electrical charge.
  • Every object, person, animal, etcetera on planet earth has an electrical charge which can be neutral, positive or negative. Which is why sometimes when you walk by or touch someone you can get an electrical shock. It is because you have different electrical charges.

The Surest Way To Protect A House Against Lightning

Install A Lightning Rod

Invented by Benjamin Franklin, a lightning rod is the surest way to protect your house against the damage and disaster a lightning strike might cause. You can install it directly onto the roof of a house or as a separate structure that stands on its own. Both these methods are effective and basically work the same way. A lightning rod (because it is pointy) concentrates the charge from the lightning strike into electrical current but because a single lightning strike can have as many as 10 million volts, it is too strong to use as electricity for your house because it would burn all your connected appliances, your main circuit board and very single power outlet all at once,  it will even damage the main grid. The concentrated lightning strike is transmitted to the ground via electrical condutors that are part of the lightning rod, where the charge can then properly be dissipated into the ground that is always neutral (it cannot conduct electricity under normal conditions.)


Lightning is one of nature’s greatest wonders. In the blink of an eye we get to witness one of the most powerful forces nature can produce, proving in some sense that men are not always inventors but merely discoverers who tend to harness forces that are already present for their advancement (electrical was not invented, like fire it was discovered because it already existed in nature.) But try as we may, we have yet to be able to harness such a forceful engima as lightning. We have only managed to divert it from striking our houses but that is about all the control we get to exercise on lightning.