Why Do You Need Lightning Protection Systems?

Why Do You Need Lightning Protection Systems?

Monday 30th October 2023

In the UK, lightning hits the ground more than 350,000 times yearly. That's why many building owners, facility management companies, and landlords with structures at risk are finding it necessary to install lightning protection systems. Moreover, each year, lightning strikes about 30 to 60 people in the UK, and 5-10% of these incidents end tragically, according to ROSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents). It's not just people who are at risk; lightning can also cause fires and power surges in buildings, but all these dangers can be prevented with the right lightning protection.

Protecting Your Building

Lightning protection systems serve to reduce or prevent damage caused by lightning strikes to buildings. They shield a building's internal electrical components, mitigating the risk of fires or electrical accidents. Typically, a lightning protection system includes a lightning rod, often a metal rod, affixed to the building to ward off lightning strikes. This system intercepts a strike; when lightning strikes the building, it hits the lightning rod first. Then, the strike is safely conducted through a wire and directed into the ground. In a lightning protection system, the lightning rod is just one component. To ensure a building's safety, the lightning rod must be grounded. Further, lightning rods come in various forms, including hollow, solid, pointed, or rounded. All are crafted from conductive materials like copper and aluminum!

Why Should You Get A Lightning Protection System?

If you run a business, it's important to ensure you're in line with the proper rules for lightning protection. According to RC 35, 'Protection of buildings against lightning strikes,' which is a guide for risk control, not all buildings and structures are legally required to have lightning protection. However, the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 do apply to most businesses. You should do a thorough risk assessment to figure out how likely your building is to get struck by lightning and what responsibilities you have. Additionally, some buildings face a higher risk of lightning strikes than others. To assess a building's risk, we consider its size, height, and the number of lightning strikes per year per mile in the area. So, smaller facilities are less likely to get struck compared to larger ones, and a building in an area with lots of lightning strikes is more prone to strikes than one in an area with fewer. According to BS EN/IEC 62305 in the UK, it's a requirement to carry out an annual risk assessment to guarantee your lightning protection system complies with the rules. Installing this system isn't just about following regulations. Also, using lightning protection methods safeguards your building. Lightning damage can lead to equipment downtime, expensive replacements, and your business's productivity disruptions.

What is Lightning Conductor Testing?

Lightning conductor testing serves as a critical evaluation process. You need it to see if your installed system has the effectiveness, dependability, and functionality to protect you. It plays a pivotal role in ensuring that lightning rods and their associated components are operating optimally and efficiently diverting lightning strikes away from structures and individuals. Further, the testing procedure commences with a meticulous visual examination. It scrutinizes conductor wires, grounding elements, lightning rods, and connected structural parts. Inspectors carefully scan for visible signs of physical damage, corrosion, loose connections, or deterioration in these components. Moreover, following this initial visual assessment, further rigorous evaluations are conducted. These encompass:
  • A thorough grounding assessment which evaluates the grounding components to confirm they meet safety and functional standards.
  • Continuity testing sees to it that the electrical pathway is uninterrupted and correctly connected.
  • Resistance measures assess the system's capability to handle electrical resistance efficiently.
  • Also, a surge protection assessment confirms that the protection measures are in place.
Upon successful completion of these tests, the lightning protection system receives certification. Next is the comprehensive documentation issued to confirm that all requisite standards and performance criteria have been met? Additionally, this certification assures that the system is prepared to safeguard structures and the occupants within them from the destructive force of lightning strikes.

When Should Lightning Conductor Testing Be Done?

The Electricity at Work Regulations of 1989 dictate that these systems must undergo testing in adherence to the relevant British Standard guidelines. It applies to all lightning protection systems in the UK. These standards enclose:
  • BS EN 62305-2:
  • This standard, BS EN 62305-2, is designed to establish a procedure for assessing the threat of lightning strikes on a structure. In the UK, it is necessary to conduct a lightning protection risk assessment for properties on an annual basis. Further, this assessment guarantees that the property is adequately shielded against lightning-related threats.
  • BS EN 62305-3:
  • British Standard BS EN 62305-3 outlines the requisites for safeguarding a structure against physical damage by deploying a lightning protection system. Furthermore, it specifies the measures paramount for safeguarding individuals from touch and step voltages in the vicinity of a lightning protection system, preventing potential injuries.
  • BS EN 62305-4:
  • BS EN 62305-4 offers comprehensive guidance for the design, installation, and maintenance of lightning electromagnetic impulse (LEMP) protection measures. Besides, these protective measures are critical for shielding electrical and electronic systems within structures, ultimately reducing the risk of permanent failures caused by LEMP-induced disruptions. Regular annual tests are imperative to confirm that a property complies with these safety standards. These tests, along with all other evaluations of the lightning protection system, must be executed by qualified and well-trained electrical engineers. Further, these experts ensure that the systems in place are fully functional and meet the necessary safety criteria, guaranteeing the protection of structures and their occupants against the destructive potential of lightning. Yet, several factors should guide your decision on how often to conduct testing.
  • Location:
  • The frequency of testing should take into account your building's location. More frequent testing may be necessary if it's situated in an area with frequent lightning activity. For instance, consider bi-annual tests instead of just once a year.
  • Environmental Conditions:
  • The environment in which your lightning protection components are placed can significantly impact their lifespan. These components may deteriorate rapidly in harsh conditions, requiring more frequent maintenance.
  • Manufacturer Recommendations:
  • Also, always refer to any guidelines provided by your lightning protection system manufacturer. They might offer specific instructions regarding testing and maintenance schedules that should be strictly adhered to.
  • Regular Visual Inspections:
  • In addition to formal testing, incorporate routine visual inspections into your maintenance routine. Keep an eye out for any signs of damage or wear and address these issues promptly. Besides, these visual checks can be seamlessly integrated into your regular facility walk-throughs, whether on a weekly or monthly basis. Regular visual inspections make it possible to identify issues early, preventing potential damage and ensuring the system's continued effectiveness.

More on Some Other Types of Testing

Earthing System Testing

If lightning strikes a building, an earthing system is responsible for safely dissipating electrical charge into the ground. Moreover, regular lightning earthing tests are necessary to verify the earth system's effectiveness. These tests include:
  • Assessing the overall resistance of the earth termination network
  • Individually testing each earth electrode Thorough and timely testing is essential to maintain the operational efficiency of residential or commercial lightning protection systems.

Soil Resistivity Testing

Soil resistivity testing entails measuring soil volume to gauge its electrical conductivity. Additionally, the measurement results in soil resistivity, expressed in ohms. The entire system's resistance to Earth must not exceed 10 ohms. Understanding soil resistivity and its variation with depth is crucial in designing electrical earthing systems. This information is pivotal for:
  • Creating effective electrical earthing system designs
  • Maintaining their proper functioning
Soil resistance testing forms the cornerstone of these designs, promising the safe discharge of electrical charges into the ground to prevent damage and protect people.

Ending Notes

Achieve complete peace of mind with us! Although we can't change the weather, we have the power to enhance the reliability of our lightning protection system. To guarantee the effective operation of your system when it matters most, Lightning Conductor delivers thorough lightning protection testing services in the UK. Moreover, South West Lightning Protection professionals will carefully examine and test your lightning conductors and earth grounding systems. After the assessment, you will receive a comprehensive report that includes any required suggestions. The result is safety guaranteed for everyone involved, securing your company's valuable assets and the on-site personnel.