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Old 10-03-2013, 06:58   #1
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Lightning Dissipator -- Any Good?

Where I sail, one often sees these:

Boat Lightning Static Dissipater

On people's mastheads. Does anyone know whether they actually work or not? Worthwhile?
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Old 10-03-2013, 07:25   #2
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Re: Lightning Dissipator -- Any Good?

No, they don't work to dissipate static charge, and they're not an effective air terminal (lightning rod).
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Old 10-03-2013, 07:32   #3
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Re: Lightning Dissipator -- Any Good?

So it's snake oil? But they area apparently universally used on cell phone towers -- phone companies so gullible?
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Old 10-03-2013, 07:49   #4
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Re: Lightning Dissipator -- Any Good?

Standard equipment on Jetplanes.Must be a gimmick.
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Old 10-03-2013, 07:51   #5
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Re: Lightning Dissipator -- Any Good?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
So it's snake oil? But they area apparently universally used on cell phone towers -- phone companies so gullible?
I think it is "snake oil",maybe its an insurance requirment! They still deal in snake oil I belive..ha ha
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Old 10-03-2013, 08:23   #6
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Re: Lightning Dissipator -- Any Good?

I'd bet there is some science to it...I'd also bet that its pretty hard to prove the negative. I'm not going to remove mine for "testing", nor would I not install one.
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Old 10-03-2013, 08:47   #7
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Re: Lightning Dissipator -- Any Good?

I have a feeling there's a 20 page lightning thread inbound. What I've learned:

- Having some path of grounding thought out in advance is better than letting lightning do whatever it wants, which it might do anyway regardless of what you did.

- There is no empirical evidence to state that anything will reduce your chances of being hit.
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Old 10-03-2013, 08:50   #8
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Re: Lightning Dissipator -- Any Good?

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So it's snake oil? But they area apparently universally used on cell phone towers -- phone companies so gullible?
Their insurance requires it. They are not lightning rods, just static dissipaters. Most people do believe science but there are always nahsayers who will fight even men on the moon etc.

The question is if they dissipate enough of the static charge to prevent a lightning strike. Well, they don't, so there it is, they do not prevent lightning strikes. However... they might just work enough to make your masthead a less interesting target for the strike which just might end up elsewhere, like a tree, tower with lightning rod, or another mast. This is why these discussions sometimes get a bit hot, like boats that have these are responsible for strikes on surrounding boats. Well, they are not responsible for the strikes but they might have been "camouflaged" just enough so that the strike ended up elsewhere.

Insurance companies do not look at science, they look at statistics. I would say statistics are good enough for me to spend the $100 for the dissipator. I just posted some pictures of my masthead that features one. The first 8 years of her existence with the first owner, our boat had 2 lightning strikes. Then I put the dissipators on and wasn't struck since for the past 10 years. I know that is not proof but I also do not complain


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Old 10-03-2013, 09:00   #9
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Re: Lightning Dissipator -- Any Good?

The problem is these things cannot be proved to work but then again they cannot be proved to NOT work. In theory they should help but we all know theory and reality are not always the same. Personally I think you are better off with a good insurance policy that will fix your boat if hit. If you have the money I see no harm in having one and they help keep birds off your masthead lol. And if they give you peice of mind in a lightning storm so much the better.
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Old 10-03-2013, 09:02   #10
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Re: Lightning Dissipator -- Any Good?

I was wondering the same. Supposedly there is no evidence that dissipators will help, but if there is a chance that they will, a hundred is not too big investment. So I decided to install one in addition to a proper lightning protection system (and whole bunch of surge suppressors to at leat try to protect electronics). Whether it will work or not, we will see
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Old 10-03-2013, 09:43   #11
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Re: Lightning Dissipator -- Any Good?

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Their insurance requires it. They are not lightning rods, just static dissipaters. Most people do believe science but there are always nahsayers who will fight even men on the moon etc.

The question is if they dissipate enough of the static charge to prevent a lightning strike. Well, they don't, so there it is, they do not prevent lightning strikes. However... they might just work enough to make your masthead a less interesting target for the strike which just might end up elsewhere, like a tree, tower with lightning rod, or another mast. This is why these discussions sometimes get a bit hot, like boats that have these are responsible for strikes on surrounding boats. Well, they are not responsible for the strikes but they might have been "camouflaged" just enough so that the strike ended up elsewhere.

Insurance companies do not look at science, they look at statistics. I would say statistics are good enough for me to spend the $100 for the dissipator. I just posted some pictures of my masthead that features one. The first 8 years of her existence with the first owner, our boat had 2 lightning strikes. Then I put the dissipators on and wasn't struck since for the past 10 years. I know that is not proof but I also do not complain


"Naysayers" this coming from a Jedi,are we to believe that you believe!!LoL...If it will make it go elsewhere Im all for it..I think Sailvayu has a good idea too,Insurance!
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Old 10-03-2013, 09:51   #12
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Re: Lightning Dissipator -- Any Good?

I also noticed them on all the traffic lights in Ft Lauderdale. The science is a bit fuzzy, but I installed one and didn't get hit in 15 years.
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Old 10-03-2013, 10:10   #13
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Re: Lightning Dissipator -- Any Good?

Let me put this here before everybody runs away from this thread:

1. First thing you must do, if you do anything about lightning strike management, is create a bonding system with special arrangements for lightning strikes. This means a bronze plate under the boat where the mast is and then a thick AWG6 or better cable from the base of the mast to this plate without any tight bends. This provides a path to the water for a charge without punching holes through the hull or through crew members towards other metal or plumbing etc.
Yes, if you have a cat you're in trouble

2. A static dissipater only works when it is grounded. This means the mast must be grounded, which points back to #1 above. In the past we have had people claiming the dissipators work and others that claim they don't work and both sides turned out to have a wooden mast without any grounding, meaning it doesn't work.
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Old 10-03-2013, 10:39   #14
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Re: Lightning Dissipator -- Any Good?

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Let me put this here before everybody runs away from this thread:

1. First thing you must do, if you do anything about lightning strike management, is create a bonding system with special arrangements for lightning strikes. This means a bronze plate under the boat where the mast is and then a thick AWG6 or better cable from the base of the mast to this plate without any tight bends. This provides a path to the water for a charge without punching holes through the hull or through crew members towards other metal or plumbing etc.
Yes, if you have a cat you're in trouble

2. A static dissipater only works when it is grounded. This means the mast must be grounded, which points back to #1 above. In the past we have had people claiming the dissipators work and others that claim they don't work and both sides turned out to have a wooden mast without any grounding, meaning it doesn't work.
Ekh, I have a cored hull, so no new holes or bronze plates for me.

On the other hand, I have 8 tons of lead keel, not encapsulated with anything but antifoul -- maybe that would work?
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Old 10-03-2013, 10:43   #15
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Re: Lightning Dissipator -- Any Good?

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post

I just posted some pictures of my masthead that features one. The first 8 years of her existence with the first owner, our boat had 2 lightning strikes. Then I put the dissipators on and wasn't struck since for the past 10 years. I know that is not proof but I also do not complain


That was what inspired this thread

I notice you are violating the rule that the dissipator should be the highest thing on the masthead -- do you think it's not important?

By the way, do you have those gas lightning arrestors in your coax cables to masthead? Do you think they are worthwhile?
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