How to Install a Lightning Surge Protector
A lightning surge protector can help protect your cell signal boosting amplifier from surges entering the system via the outside antenna. Lightning is incredibly powerful so a surge protector may not be able to stop a direct lightning strike, however, it can protect against surges in the air from lightning striking nearby or from other electrical events.
Each lightning protector contains a gas discharge element that acts as a fuse. In the event of a surge, the gas discharge element will sever the connection between the outside antenna and the amplifier. The surge will instead travel over a ground wire to ground where it can safely dissipate.
Note: An in-line lightning surge protector will only protect your system from surges originating at the outside antenna. You should also use a traditional surge protector to protect your amplifier from surges that originate from your electrical system, just like you would for a TV or computer.
The lightning protector gets installed between the outside antenna and the amplifier. Most lightning protectors have two female ports, so they require an extra 2 ft cable for installation. If you have a lightning protector with one Male and one Female connector, then you do not need a 2 ft cable.
There are two options for installation:
- Method 1: Outside Antenna > 2 ft Cable > Lightning Protector > Longer Cable > Amplifier
- Method 2: Outside Antenna > Longer Cable > Lightning Protector > 2 ft Cable > Amplifier
Method 1 is the recommended method to keep the surge further from the amplifier, however, the option you choose will depend on how you can best ground the lightning protector.
The rules for grounding the lightning protector vary by state and municipality, so we recommend contacting your local electrical code enforcement officer to ask about cable size and where you can ground to.
In general, we recommend a 10 AWG copper ground wire, and that it be as short as possible with minimal bends. One end of the wire should be attached to the ground screw on the lightning protector. The other end of the wire should be attached to a ground point. This could include:
- A metal water pipe, near where it enters the building
- The building’s existing exterior grounding rod
- Metal frame of the building that’s connected to the existing building grounding electrode system.
When in doubt and to make sure you’re complying with the local electrical code, contact your local electrical code enforcement officer.
Lastly, if you install the lightning protector outside, you’ll want to waterproof any connections to ensure that water doesn’t cause any corrosion which could cause performance issues in the future. Basic electrical tape can be used at a minimum, but look for special waterproofing tape at a home improvement center.
Replacement gas discharge elements are available. If your system works without the lightning protector installed but does not work with it installed, then it’s likely that you need to replace the gas discharge element.
Need a lightning protector?
The correct lightning protector depends on the type of cable your system uses.