Defective product specs: A disaster waiting to happen.

I do a lot of work in the Lighting Protection industry. So I got excited when I saw the websitepre-engineered gazebos and shade shelters. The manufacturer's website offers a "lightning protection kit" for its shelters, but few details.

So I contacted them for info, and here is what happened:

1. The customer service rep did not know they offered lightning protection.

2. Then the rep sent me a link to the same website from which I made my inquiry.

3. When I asked for detailed info, the company sent the following:


1)   All lightning protection shall conform to Class I requirements (materials necessary to protect ordinary buildings not exceeding 75’ in height) as outlined in the LPI Standard of Practice, LPI - 175 (2008 Edition Standards of Practice) and NFPA 780 Booklet (2008 Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems).

2)   Air terminal(s) shall be solid copper, ½” diameter with tapered top and threaded base.

3)   Terminal receiver shall be horizontal mount threaded bronze base unit.

4)   Wire shall be 28 strand, 14 AWG, ½” minimum rope lay copper cable connected with brass or bronze couplers.

5)   Ground rods shall be 5/8” x 8’ copper clad minimum.

6)   Contractor to ensure lightning protection is in compliance with local building codes.

This spec is a disaster waiting to happen. Here are a few of the spec's defects:

- It references obsolete standards,

- The copper components specified are incompatible with the company's steel and aluminum roofing and will corrode.

- Some of the dimensions given do not meet the standard, and others are oversized and expensive.

- The horizontal mount specified will not work on the manufacturer's sloped roofs.

- The manufacturer says to be "in compliance with local building codes," apparently unaware that few building codes address lightning protection.

I suspect the manufacturer thinks they are doing their clients a convenience by offering the kit. Maybe they are making a good faith effort to make their buildings safer.  But clearly, lightning protection is outside their expertise, and they a is selling a product that may not work as intended.

The company has positioned itself and its customers for an "attractive nuisance" lawsuit.  Imagine a child playing in a park when a thunderstorm approaches. The child sees a shelter with a lightning rod and takes refuge in it.  When the child, under the shelter, is injured or killed by a lightning strike, the attorneys will take the manufacturer, the installer, and the property owner to court. The architect or engineer, too, if there is one.


There are no minor components to a building. If you are selling something outside your expertise, get the advice of someone competent in the field.