There is a lot about lightning we do not know. Lightning strikes are random and are not completely understood. What we do know may help you to determine if your home or business is a good candidate for lightning protection.
Most people do not think about lightning protection unless their property or the property of a close neighbor has been struck. That being said, lightning accounts for more losses than hurricanes and tornadoes combined. It is surprising to me that most people view a lightning loss as a very unlikely event.
Lightning generally tends to strike the tallest object in its path to ground. Lightning will usually attach to the highest points of a building, such as the roof top, chimneys, vents, and the edges and corners around the top of a building. You should ask yourself these following questions. Is my building taller than neighboring buildings? Are trees nearby taller than my building? Is my building the tallest object in the area?
Geography is important to consider. In America, Florida has the highest strike frequency while the Pacific Northwest has a much lower strike frequency. Look online at a lightning frequency map to see how often lightning strikes ground at your location.
Topography is just as important to consider as geography. Would your site be more likely to take a strike in a high strike area under the shelter of trees or as the tallest object in a lower strike area on the plains? Being on a ridge or hilltop certainly exposes your site to more potential lightning than being in a valley.
Highly automated homes with lots of electronics are particularly vulnerable to damage from lightning and power surges caused by lightning. A list of other vulnerable sites include: communication towers, munitions storage buildings, oil and gas production or storage tanks and vessels containing flammable materials, refineries, gas compressor stations, processing sites, and most industrial plants. These industries need to consider more than just immediate damage to the structures. They also need to be concerned with business downtime, environmental cleanup, and safety of personnel.
Lightning protection will protect your structure but you will need surge protection to keep your electronics and equipment safe from power surges caused by lightning. Lightning can strike a power line a mile away and send a blast of current all the way to your building. The same is true with cable and phone wires. To complete a lightning protection system you need to protect all the paths that lightning can get to your building or equipment.