How the Power Company Prevents Electrical Surges from Lightning Strikes

Extreme surges in electrical power can cause blackouts. This is especially dangerous if you rely on electricity to fuel your air conditioning and your furnace. Usually, excessive local use of electrical power causes a blackout or brown-out, but jolts from lightning strikes can do the same. Luckily, your local power company has ways of preventing these surges even when a lightning strike does occur.

Lightning Arrestors

The first line of defense against a lightning strike are lightning arrestors. These unique components are attached to power lines and high electrical towers. Some may also be used in power substations if there is a high power concentration traveling through the substation. As the lightning strikes the tower, the surge of electrical power is channeled into the arrestor, which sends the excess power to the ground, thereby disseminating it.


Switchgear is a series of breakers, boxes, surge protectors, fuses and switches that can shut off and re-channel extra power in another direction. When a reported lightning strike has occurred, the switchgear is activated to take action against the powerful surge of the lightning strike. The system may temporarily shut power off to block the lightning's energy, or reroute the lightning's energy to avoid an electrical explosion. Usually, if most of the power of the strike has been successfully drained off by the arrestors, the weakened surge that reaches the switchgear will not cause as much damage to power stations.

To learn more about switchgear, contact services like Enercon  Engineering Inc.

Protective Relays

Protective relays are the final component in redirecting any remaining power from the lightning strike. As the power surge occurs, the protective relay systems trip a circuit breaker, causing the power to shut down. With nowhere else to go, the surge dissipates. Protective relays act as the "dead end" for a lightning strike, saving people's neighborhood power lines and homes from dangerous electrical bursts.

The Only Thing the Power Company Cannot Do

In regards to lightning strikes, the power company can do a lot to prevent the power surges they cause. The only thing they cannot do is prevent where lightning strikes. If the lightning strikes close to your house, you have to take the lightning damage as it comes. The power company cannot prevent a strike that takes place that close to a privately-owned residential area. They cannot prevent downed power lines and the surges that come directly into your home from a strike that close to your house either.