Insight – Issue fortyfour

Insight – lightning protection services

PTSG is the UK market leader in lightning and surge protection and earthing services. With offices nationwide and a vast team, which includes some of the most skilled and experienced practitioners working today, no job is beyond our reach.

Our Essex office (JW Gray, which was acquired by PTSG in 2015) is believed to be the oldest trading company providing lightning protection within the UK and possible even in Europe, with three centuries of service. PTSG also has a strong presence elsewhere, with offices in Nottingham, Manchester, Stoke-on-Trent and Edinburgh.

The Group is one of the founder members of the Association of Technical Lightning and Access Specialists (ATLAS) and a member of the Steeplejack and Lightning Protection Training Group (SLPTG).

The need for lightning and/or surge protection

The phrase “lightning never strikes twice” is a fallacy. Lightning strikes the ground over 300,000 times a year in the UK alone and can strike the same structure time and time again. During one storm, the Eiffel Tower suffered ten lightning strikes.

Installation

To fully protect a building from a direct or indirect lightning strike, a risk assessment must first be carried out. Our consultants will produce a report advising on the most effective and efficient means of protecting it from ground strikes and power surges.

Once the need for lightning protection is established, a bespoke or standard system can be designed to meet the precise requirements of the structure under review.

At PTSG, all new installations are undertaken by experienced and thoroughly trained engineers, working to BS EN 62305. Where such a solution is not practicable, we also offer early streamer emission (ESE) systems as a solution to your lightning protection needs.

Remedial Repairs

Periodic maintenance inspection of any type of equipment is a good idea. In the case of a lightning protection system it is absolutely essential. During our annual inspections, the mechanical condition of all conductors, bonds, joints and earth electrodes are checked and the observations noted. These periodic inspections and tests indicate what maintenance, if any, is needed. We also test and maintain ESE and systems.

Inspection and Testing

Section 5 of Electricity at Work Act 1989 states that all lightning conductors and earth grounding installations should be visually inspected and tested at regularly fixed intervals, preferably not exceeding 12 months. We recommend the interval should be slightly shorter than one year in order to vary the season in which testing takes place over time. This counters the effect of ambient temperature and other seasonal factors on readings from the installation. We record all test conditions and results, and a reminder is sent out before the next test is due.

Retrofit Upgrades

PTSG Electrical Services’ engineers are highly experienced when it comes to working on older equipment or equipment installed by other suppliers. If you would like to look at the possibility of extending the lifespan of your existing equipment, whether PTSG installed it or not, or if you are thinking about changing supplier, our engineers will improve what is already in place in a more cost-effective way.

Surge Protection

A surge, also known as a transient overvoltage, occurs when there is a spike in voltage on power or signal lines. They are large, sudden and can overload electronic components, leading to failure as well as the potential to cause injury or even death. Lightning strikes cause the largest surges, with spikes of up to 6,000V within an electronic installation. Buildings often withstand the strike itself, but suffer huge damage to electrical equipment from the surge afterwards – which can cost tens of thousands of pounds.

A surge protection device is an essential part of every lightning protection risk assessment, as detailed within British Standard BSEN 62305. It’s a relatively small investment that can offer invaluable protection for companies of all sizes. For small to medium enterprises, for whom the cost of installing a full lightning protection system may be too high, surge protection can be an ideal alternative.