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Tree Lightning Protection

A lightning strike can kill or damage an important specimen tree in an instant. Florida is the state with the most lightning strikes and within Florida the Tampa area has the highest number of lightning strikes. Trees can be protected from lightning. We follow ANSI A300 Standards in Lightning Protection for Trees. Regardless who does your tree lightning protection, be sure they follow the ANSI A300 Standards for installation which are different than the standards for lightning protection for buildings or other structures and requires specific training. 

Tree Lightning Protection Q&A

Q. I didn’t know lightning protection was available for trees. How long have these systems been used?

A. Lightning protection for trees has been used as far back as the 1800s. Years ago when trees were more plentiful, it did not seem as important to protect them from one of nature’s most destructive forces – lightning.


Q. Why aren’t more trees protected?


A. It is basically a matter of education and public awareness. Many owners who have had valuable trees struck and damaged or destroyed by lightning were basically not aware of lightning protection systems for trees. “I didn’t know I could protect them. Why didn’t someone tell me?” Is a common remark. Unfortunately, many tree services have not added lightning protection to their services.


Q. What tree should I protect?

A. You should protect the trees which you value most for historical or sentimental reasons were trees that aesthetically add value to your property.


Q. How does a lightning protection system for trees work?

A. The same principle was a lightning protection system on a building. A tree lightning protection system does not attract lightning nor does it prevent a lightning strike from occurring. A tree system simply intercepts a lightning bolt between the cloud and the earth and harmlessly conducted to the ground without damage to the tree.


Q. Will a system in my tree also protect my house?

A. No. A tree system will protect the tree only. If someone is interested in protection on a nearby house were outbuilding, one should consider a separate system for the structure. If the tree is near the house, then the two system should be interconnected to provide a common ground.


Q. How many years will a lightning protection system for trees last?

A. Ten, 20 or 30 years or more. With periodic checks and inspection, the system should last as long as you own the property. Many tree systems and trees surrounding historic landmarks were in recreational areas, i.e., Mount Vernon, Washington’s home; Monticello, Jefferson’s home; and the Hermitage, Jackson’s home have all been in service from 50 to 100 years. In some instances the tree growth has encompass the copper down lead cables and conductors and the systems are now concealed. This does not impair the efficiency of a system. The stately trees, which have been planted by Washington, Jefferson and Jackson, still stand on these magnificent estates.


Questions and answers provided by lightning equipment manufacturer
Independent Protection Co., Inc. Goshen, Indiana

Large sprawling trees like this 100-inch diameter live oak require several copper leads.
A copper cable must be attached as high in the tree as possible and extend down the trunk to the soil where it is buried and extends well outside the root plate to an 8-ft grounding rod.
An 8-ft. copper coated steel grounding rod is installed well outside the root plate and connected to the copper cable. A rod hammer (shown above) is used to pound the rod into the ground.