A lightning rod is very simple -- it's a pointed metal rod attached to the roof of a building. The rod might be an inch (2 cm) in diameter. It connects to a huge piece of copper or aluminum wire that's also an inch or so in diameter. The wire is connected to a conductive grid buried in the ground nearby.
Lightning rods provide a low-resistance path to ground that can be used to conduct the enormous electrical currents when lightning strikes occur. If lightning strikes, the system attempts to carry the harmful electrical current away from the structure and safely to ground. The system has the ability to handle the enormous electrical current associated with the strike. If the strike contacts a material that is not a good conductor, the material will suffer massive heat damage. The lightning-rod system is an excellent conductor and thus allows the current to flow to ground without causing any heat damage.
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