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What is Lightning Protection System Testing? - The Ultimate Guide

What is Lightning Conductor Testing? 

Why do we need lightning protection systems?

When Should Lightning Conductor Testing Be Done?

What is Earthing System Testing?

What is Soil Resistivity Testing?

Protecting Your Building

 

Every year, lightning strikes thousands of commercial and residential buildings across the UK. Most buildings have in-built lightening conductors and earthing systems (sometimes called a lightning rod or Franklin rod), so the strikes cause little to no damage. In many cases, the residents and property owners will not know that their building has been struck. 


A fully trained and qualified electrical engineer should ensure lightning conductors and earthing systems are tested regularly to ensure they protect a building and work as they should. Testing these systems will help preserve tall, prominent buildings like those found in the centre of London and ensure they are safe for use by businesses and members of the public. 

What is Lightning Conductor Testing? 

 

Lightning strikes happen more regularly in the UK than you might think. The main reason a lightning protection system is required is to ensure that excess electrical energy from these strikes takes a less destructive path to the ground through your building. This means that instead of flowing through the building's electrical wiring and piping where it could cause significant damage, it travels down a safe path into the ground. Lightning conductor testing, or lightening protection testing, is a process by which all lightning conductors and earth grounding installations are visually inspected and tested

For the lightning protection inspection procedure to be thorough, safe and valid, it needs to be carried out by a qualified electrical engineer. This electrical engineer should have extensive experience using an appropriate lightning protection testing method.

Testing the lightning rod conductor systems on large buildings helps to keep these important safety features in good condition. It also ensures that the property meets the relevant British safety regulations. 

Why do we need lightning protection systems?

A strike from a lightning bolt can cause considerable damage to a building if no lightning protection systems are in place. In rare circumstances, a direct strike can cause a fire in the property. Fires from a lightning strike typically happen when the lightning causes a power surge in the electric current, overloading it and causing the system to malfunction. 


Even if the power surge caused by a lightning strike does not result in a fire, it can still do considerable damage to property. An electrical surge can severely damage appliances and electronics plugged into power sockets. Strong surges can cause electrical systems can be destroyed. If lightning strikes an office block with multiple computers and other expensive electronic equipment plugged in, this can result in significant damage. 

Lightning strikes can also cause physical damage to property. When lightning hits a building, shock waves are often produced, these shock waves can cause render, brick, concrete and stone cracks. In some cases, lightning strikes can cause windows to shatter and even create cracks in the foundation of a building. If these shockwaves travel through a building, they can also cause cracks in the property's foundations, undermining its structural integrity. 

 

Lightning Protection System Installation

The Electricity at Work Regulations, 1989, state that lightning conductor systems need to be tested per the relevant British Standard. 

These standards include:

BS EN 62305-2: BS EN 62305-2 aims to provide a procedure to evaluate the risk of lightning flashes on a structure. A lightning conductor risk assessment on UK properties should occur once every twelve months. 

BS EN 62305-3: British standard BS EN 62305-3 provides the requirements for protecting a structure against physical damage through a lightning protection system. It also provides the requirements for protection against the risk of injury due to touch and step voltages in the vicinity of a lightning protection system.

 BS EN 62305-4: BS EN 62305-4 provides information for the design, installation, inspection and maintenance of lightning electromagnetic impulse (LEMP) protection measures. These measures protect electrical and electronic systems within structures and can reduce the risk of permanent failures due to LEMP.

Every year, tests must be carried out to ensure a property meets these safety standards. These lightning protection tests, and all other tests on the lightning protection system, should be undertaken by fully trained and qualified electrical engineers. 

 

What is Lightning Protection Systems Testing?

An earthing system is an essential part of a lightning protection installation. Properly earthing the building ensures that the electrical charge can pass safely into the ground if the property is struck by lightning. This helps to prevent damage to both the structure of the building and the people using the property. 


Lightning earthing testing needs to be carried out annually to ensure the earth system is working as it should. The checks that must be made include testing the resistance to earth of the earth termination network as a whole. In addition, each earth electrode must be tested. Carrying out these tests thoroughly and on time will ensure that the residential or commercial lightning protection system is in good working order. 

What is Soil Resistivity Testing?
 

To achieve a safe and effective lightning protection system, soil resistivity is crucial. So, when considering any electrical grounding design, you need to take this into account. Soil resistivity describes the degree to which the soil will resist the flow of electricity. This should be considered when designing systems reliant on the current passing through the surface of the earth. Our team of engineers can ensure your soil resistivity levels meet all of the required levels.


Soil resistivity testing is the process of measuring a volume of soil to determine the conductivity of that soil. The resulting soil resistivity is expressed in ohms. The resistance to earth of the whole system must not exceed 10 ohms. Understanding soil resistivity and how it varies with the soil's depth is essential for designing electrical earthing systems. This earth resistance testing is critical in electrical earthing system design. 

What Is The Frequency For Lightning Protection System Testing?
In line with UK regulations, lightning conductor systems should be tested every 12 months. It is mandatory to complete a risk assessment annually to ensure that your lightning protection system complies with the regulations.

Protecting your building 

A lightning protection system is important in designing and maintaining a safe and secure building. When it is in good working order, a lightning protection system will help prevent electrical surges and shockwaves, keeping your property's electronic systems and structure safe in the event of any lightning strikes. 

Find out more by contacting a member of our team or by, reading about our safety testing services or checking out one of our Lightning Protection Testing case studies.

 

   

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