How Does it Work?
A lightning rod has a simple mechanism that is often misunderstood. Many think that a lightning rod attracts lightning. This is not true – lightning strikes have vast amounts of dangerous electricity that can be disastrous for anything that does not conduct electricity. A lightning rod reduces the damage by conducting the electrical current to the ground. A lightning rod offers a low resistance path for the current to flow. Therefore, it redirects the current from striking a home, where it could cause damage, to a safer area like the ground.
Another phenomenon associated with lightning is that it can “jump around,” which makes it quite dangerous. When it jumps around near a lightning rod, the low resistant system receives the jump and grounds it before it can cause damage.
A misconception regarding a lightning rod is that it prevents lightning from striking. Instead, a lightning rod increases the chances of lightning striking a safer spot and protecting your house. So, a lightning rod functions during the lightning strike or after it has hit, but it cannot prevent lightning from striking.
If the place you are protecting is out in an open field, you should ensure that the lightning rod is significantly taller than the building; otherwise, the electric field may dissipate. But, again, the idea is only to create a low resistance path for the current.