Publication: The Manufacturer and Builder
New York, NY, United States
LIGHTNING RODS. "The Lightning Rod Myth" is the rather confident heading of an article depreciating lightning rods, which has been going the rounds of the press. It has provoked a good deal of criticism among people acquainted with the subject, and brought out the following letter from an experienced electrician, T. U. Patee, which we reprint from the Electrical Review. Mr. Patee writes:
"Under the above heading you publish an article taken from the Philadelphia Record, in which a Mr. Walker asserts that lightning rods are losing their place in the public confidence and are fast going out of use. In Philadelphia, where he lives, there is one factory — Reyburn, Hunter & Cos., — which alone now makes as much rod yearly as was made by all the factories together fifteen years ago. The same may be said of another great factory — Cole Bros., Greencastle, Ind., — the use of lightning rods being steadily on the increase.
"He also says they attract lightning, which is not the case. In accordance with the laws which govern electric action laws which are well understood by all electricians they usually prevent an electric accumulation of intensity sufficient to produce a disruptive discharge. Such a discharge is almost impossible above a well-rodded building, the rod being a passive but most efficient agent between the positive and negative forces which attract each other. Mr. Walker says that iron rusts off in the ground and will attract a force which it cannot discharge. A rod in that condition would present no stronger attraction than the finals, crestings, gutterings, metal roofs, etc., in common use, and which have no means of discharge except through the walls of the building. Call a piece of metal a "broken lightning rod" and it becomes a source of alarm; form the same metal into cresting or cornice and it brings no thought of danger. However, the rods now in common use are made of galvanized steel or copper and are not open to the objection.
"Lightning rods and fixtures have now been brought to a degree of perfection that enables manufacturers to guarantee five years' protection to buildings when rodded according to the code of rules established by the delegates to the London Conference of Electricians in 1882, said delegates being sent by the Meteorological Society, Royal Institute of British Architects, Society of Telegraph Engineers and of Electricians, and the Physical Society. These delegates met from time to time for a period of four years, and left no means untried to procure all the information possible relating to the utility and proper application of lightning rods. They discovered that for sixty years lightning rods have afforded absolute protection to the British navy, while during the fifteen years previous to their application it sustained a loss of 300 sailors and seventy-two vessels. And, after the most thorough investigation, they affirm that: 'There is no authentic case on record where a properly constricted conductor failed to do its duty.' "