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Lightning Strikes and The Faraday Cage

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Paul Arden
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Lightning Strikes and The Faraday Cage

#1

Post by Paul Arden » Tue Feb 18, 2020 8:18 am

Hi guys,

My mum recently was visiting and suggested placing a lightning rod at the top of the battleship which can be grounded to the water. So I’ve been doing a bit of research and apparently aluminium is an excellent conductor of lightning and indeed considered safer than a fibreglass boat. In fact the whole boat (assuming metal roof) works like a faraday cage.

Do you think I should attach a lightning rod at the top of the boat and try to run the strike down the side of the boat? I’m pretty sure that marine carpet would be a good way of insulation from the floor.

I think we just have to pretty much assume that the boat will be hit by lightning!

Cheers, Paul
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Graeme H
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Re: Lightning Strikes and The Faraday Cage

#2

Post by Graeme H » Tue Feb 18, 2020 9:10 am

If you have an aluminium roof structure that's attached to the aluminium hull, you're all good to go, as far as I know. A lightning rod won't be any better because there's nothing stopping the lighting hitting elsewhere on the boat.

If there is a storm, keep yourself away from the superstructure. Try to offer no way for electricity to take a path through the body.

Carpet offers no viable insulation when you consider the lightning has just arced hundreds of metres through air.

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Graeme
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Re: Lightning Strikes and The Faraday Cage

#3

Post by Paul Arden » Tue Feb 18, 2020 9:19 am

Ok so sit in the middle of the boat. Would touching the hull be a problem?
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Re: Lightning Strikes and The Faraday Cage

#4

Post by Paul Arden » Tue Feb 18, 2020 1:41 pm

Do you think standing on an aluminium deck be a problem in the case of a lightning strike? I'm always barefoot in boats! I would imagine that the electricity wouldn't affect you since it will travel through the boat from water the air.

Thanks, Paul
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Re: Lightning Strikes and The Faraday Cage

#5

Post by sms » Tue Feb 18, 2020 3:40 pm

Electricity will take the easiest path. If you have some roof structure made from metal pipes, that will be taken instead of your body. If you have a wooden or fibeglass boat, I would attach a piece of wire to the metal roof structure and make it go the side of the boat to the water. In storm, don’t touch any metal that could potentially take the electric current theough you (don’t touch the Faraday cage). And place the carbon fibre rods also so that they are inside the Faraday cage and don’t touch the rods should you be so unlucky that that the lightning should strike inside the F cage (unlikely).
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Paul Arden
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Re: Lightning Strikes and The Faraday Cage

#6

Post by Paul Arden » Tue Feb 18, 2020 4:01 pm

The whole structure - roof, sides, floor and hull - is aluminium...
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James9118
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Re: Lightning Strikes and The Faraday Cage

#7

Post by James9118 » Tue Feb 18, 2020 4:24 pm

Hi Paul,

I'm sure there must be industry standards relating to the lightning protection of boats - are your builders following anything? I'd suggest you really look into this based on where you are and the fact that you'll have paying customers on board.

Cheers, James

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Re: Lightning Strikes and The Faraday Cage

#8

Post by daniel » Tue Feb 18, 2020 9:06 pm

Just checked my electrical regs book and there's nothing in there that covers this, its covered by BS EN 60092-507, which obviously doesn't apply unless you're in Britain. I'm with James, I'd check into what regulations apply for the area you're in. Do the people building your boat have any info on it?

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Re: Lightning Strikes and The Faraday Cage

#9

Post by Graeme H » Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:31 pm

Paul Arden wrote:
Tue Feb 18, 2020 9:19 am
Ok so sit in the middle of the boat. Would touching the hull be a problem?
I'd be staying away from the outer hull if I were in the boat in a storm. Looking at the pics of your boat, I'd be very happy to be on that during a storm: certainly happier than in a hammock strung between two trees! :D But I'd also make sure that anyone on board enjoying the spectacle of the storm was not balancing themselves by holding onto the uprights between the hull and the roof.

It's all about minimising the possible path a jolt can take. Standing on the deck with your feet close together would be fine - from the electricity's point of view, there's no point leaving that lovely metal to go through you, only to end up at the same place. Standing on the deck and holding the upright provides a slightly more attractive pathway it can use in its rush to earth, so it goes through both the metal and you.

I think you already know my answer to the question about being on your aluminium dingy in a storm. My insistence on taking cover in a panther-infested jungle should tell you I'd much rather take my chances with a big pussy than with the fury of Mother Nature. :laugh:

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Graeme
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Re: Lightning Strikes and The Faraday Cage

#10

Post by Paul Arden » Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:47 am

A good link from Vince https://nasdonline.org/7182/d000007/boa ... ction.html

I’ll check on standards but I think they are quite right in that the roof is welded and gives excellent conductivity to the hull. It will probably be the safest place on the lake!
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