LIGHTNING PROTECTION AND LIGHTNING SAFETY

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1Do Surge Protectors and UPS systems provide total lightning protection?
No they do not. Unfortunately, a common surge protector will stop voltage spikes and surges, but not the violent, catastrophic burst of current from a nearby lightning strike. Direct lightning current is too big to protect with a little electronic device inside a power strip, or even a hefty UPS unit. If your UPS or surge protector is in the way of the lightning's path, all or part of the lightning will just flash over or through the device - regardless of the amount of capacitors and battery banks involved.
1 Is DAS considered a new technology that could enhance protection against lightning strokes?
The Dissipation Array System(or DAS) is a lightning prevention system. Well, it doesn’t prevent lightning from happening altogether but it does prevent lightning from striking the protected structure. There is a lot of detail on how it does this but the simple version is that it lowers the electrostatic field in the surrounding area. This prevents upward-rising lightning leaders(or streamers) from being created on the protected structure. Without these upward rising leaders, which are essential for lightning collection, the lightning will not be able to hit that structure.
1How does a traditional lightning protection system work?
The traditional Franklin system tries to create a collection point. Each lightning rod is creating these upward-rising lightning leaders and bringing lightning to it. Essentially it is creating a preferred path for lightning. This can be effective if you are concerned about protecting the roof from being damaged or catching on fire. It is not great, however, if you have sensitive electronics which could be damaged by the lightning transient or if you have current loops running which could be tripped by an over voltage. All of these things make the DAS a much more attractive option. I like to say that the DAS is “strictly better” in terms of performance because it is hard to imagine a reason you would want to attract lightning into your grounding system.
1What is the difference between DAS and SBI?
The difference between the DAS and the SBI is typically performance and cost. The DAS is no-strike prevention system. This means that the system will not allow any strikes to the protected area due to it’s high level of performance. The SBIs, on the other hand, are a more cost effective, modular, design based on the same principle of operation. So it will not protect against 100% of strikes like the DAS but it may prevent 70-80% of strikes at a lower cost. As with many things, there are diminishing returns and getting those final % of protection is more difficult to do and so it costs more.
1Is DAS supported by standards like NFPA 780, UL 96A, API 545 and IEC 62305?
Standards are not allowed, for legal reasons, to promote any company’s specific product. Because these have been designed by us and in some cases are patented, this does not allow them to make a standard for these products. In specific, NFPA780 says that it shall not cover “charge dissipation systems” in section 1.1.3