How Much Does Lightning Rod Installation Cost?

Matt Marandola
Written by Matt Marandola
Reviewed by Salvatore Cutrona
Updated July 26, 2022
A lightning during a storm strikes above a house
Photo: J Salisbury / Moment / GettyImages

Highlights

  • Installing a lightning rod costs between $1,000 and $2,000 on average.

  • You can get an inexpensive aluminum rod for as little as $50.

  • You may need several rods to cover a large home.

  • One ESE air terminal protects a big house, but costs upwards of $2,500.

  • The average cost of lightning damage repair is over $8,000.

  • DIY lightning rod installation is possible, but not recommended.

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Just one lightning bolt is hotter than the sun and carries a whopping 300 million volts of electricity. So you can see why the average cost of repairing lightning damage on a home can cost upwards of $8,000. Thankfully, you can keep your home safe with a lightning rod, also called a grounding rod. These simple devices "catch" the lightning bolt and redirect its energy to the earth, where it's absorbed. Lightning rods cost between $1,000 and $2,000 to install, with a typical cost of about $1,500.

Cost of Lightning Rod Installation Near You

The cost to install a lightning rod varies slightly by location. Here’s a look at the price in different U.S. states.

StateCost
California$150 – $400
Colorado$300 – $1,550
Kansas$270 – $4,550
Illinois$330 – $2,540
New York$320 – $1,650
Massachusetts$400 – $770
Texas$800 – $3,650
Florida$130 – $350

Price of Lightning Protection Installation by Type of Rod

There are two types of rods available. The traditional lightning rod, or Franklin rod, invented by Benjamin Franklin in the 1750s, is the simplest and least expensive. The earl streamer emission (ESE) air terminals are more complex and therefore more costly.

Lightning Rods/Franklin Rods

Franklin rods start at $60 each, including installation. At the high end, you could pay as much as $175 for installation. While they haven't changed much since their invention in the 1750s, iron is no longer the material of choice. Today, the rods are either aluminum or copper. Aluminum rods cost $50 to $90 to install, while copper rods cost $125 to $150.

Aluminum Rods

Aluminum grounding rods cost between $50 and $90 each to install. They're considerably less costly than copper rods, which makes them appealing to those on a budget. Plus, they're more compatible than their copper counterparts in some situations. For example, they can be installed directly on aluminum and steel roofs. 

However, they're not as efficient and conductive as copper rods, so they need longer cabling. And there's the risk of corrosion over time, as aluminum will eventually rust with continued exposure to the elements.

Copper Rods

Copper Franklin rods cost $125 to $150 to install. They're more costly because of the price of copper and because these rods are heavier and more efficient. Because copper rods are better conductors than aluminum, the installation is easier and requires shorter cables. 

However, even though it's stronger than aluminum, copper, too, will eventually corrode. 

Early Streamer Emission Air Terminals

Early streamer emission air terminals, or ESE air terminals, cost between $2,000 and $2,500, fully installed. These systems require professional installation. They're a popular choice because, unlike lightning rods, they cover your whole home, so, unless your property is particularly large, you only need one ESE air terminal, whereas you have to have multiple lightning rods installed to cover even modest properties. 

ESE air terminals are a comparatively high-tech option that are more challenging to install than Franklin rods. These devices must be located at least 6.5 feet above the tallest nearby structure. To accomplish this, you may have to have a mast mounted on your property. This system works by giving off ionized particles that attract and channel a lightning strike.

Lightning Rod Installation Cost Breakdown

The main costs associated with lightning rod installation are materials and labor. It's also a good idea to have a buffer in your budget for unforeseen issues, like wildlife or small roof repairs. 

Materials

The materials for lightning rod installation make up about 30% to 50% of the project budget. So, on an average $1,500 installation, materials will cost around $500 to $750. For the more expensive ESE installations, materials may cost around $1,000.

Labor

Hiring a local electrician who can install a lightning protection system typically costs $35 to $50 per hour. Depending on the size and complexity of the job, you could pay as little as $100 in labor or more than $1,000 for hard-to-reach areas or time-consuming installation. 

Installing one or two simple copper rods will cost you around $100 to $200 in labor, as this type of job usually only takes a couple of hours. Installing a set of six copper rods to protect a modest home would likely set you back around $600 in labor alone. Installing an ESE system is the most costly because it's the most complex and time-consuming and will cost you between $400 and $800 in labor.

Overages

Having a buffer of between 10 and 20% of the project cost is smart. If you haven't had your roof inspected recently, there's no telling what your contractor will find once they get up there. You may need to pay for the cost of roof repairs or you may need to hire a local animal control service if the pro discovers a pest or wildlife issue. 

Cost to Install a Lightning Rod Yourself

A mother reads to her son in the living room at night
Photo: freemixer / E+ / Getty Images

While you can, theoretically install simple lightning rods yourself, it's safer to leave it to a UL-certified professional. Working at height carries risk of injury, and you may not have all the gear you need to work on the roof safely. Plus, a pro has the knowledge and experience to accurately gauge how many rods your home needs, and the best place to put them. 

The cost of the available DIY kits are between $1,000 and $3,000 for a complete setup, including rods, mounts, conductors, cables, and grounding plates. You won't actually save much compared to having a pro handle the installation for you.

When it comes to installing an ESE air terminal system, know that only a licensed pro can complete that job.

FAQs 

How much area does a lightning rod cover?

How much area a lightning rod covers depends on the type of rod. A 3,000-square-foot home would need between six and eight copper or aluminum rods—but only one ESE air terminal system.

Does copper attract lightning?

No, copper doesn't attract lightning, but it is extremely conductive. When lightning strikes, it makes contact with the highest nearby point. Hence lightning rods are installed high up on your home. The lightning makes contact with the copper rod, which conducts it down through the cables, into the grounding plate, and into the earth, where it's harmlessly absorbed.

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