What Happens If Your Dish Is Struck by Lightning?

By Kerri Ganci

It's important to ground your satellite dish upon installation to reduce the chances that it could be struck by lightning, according to Todd Humphrey of DBS Install. Although it can't prevent a lightning strike, it can decrease the odds of a strike damaging your satellite dish or your equipment inside your house.

Grounding Your Satellite Dish

Todd Humphrey of DBS Install explains that the three main satellite television providers -- Hughes, Dish Network and DirecTV -- require their systems to be grounded. There are two main ways in which this can be accomplished -- by installing a ground wire or a ground pole. Humphrey says it's crucial to follow the grounding instructions set forth by the company or have a professional installer do the work; it often is the most "misunderstood" part of installing a satellite TV dish.

Lightning Strikes Vary in Intensity

According to the Lightning Protection Institute, lightning strikes vary in intensity so the effects of a lightning strike on a satellite dish or its components will depend on the strength of the strike. A minor lightning strike would likely follow the path of the cables without any discernible damage. A stronger strike could destroy the wires altogether. One news report from the Sun Patriot in Waconia, Minn., tells the story of a home that caught fire because of a lightning strike to a satellite dish.

If Lightning Strikes

Strike, a company that specializes in home lightning protection, explains what can happen if a satellite dish is struck by lightning. It says the electrical surge created by the strike can travel throughout a home, potentially setting fires along the way. Humphrey says a lightning strike could also destroy the dish.

Satellite Dishes as Lightning Protectors?

Boston Lightning Rod, Inc. says contrary to what many believe, satellite dishes do not protect a home from a lightning strike. In fact, the company recommends that homeowners take down unused dishes to prevent a strike from happening because satellite dishes are prime targets. Even surge suppressors, which are commonly used throughout the home, cannot prevent the ill effects of a lightning strike on a satellite dish and its cables and components.