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3 Lightning-Related Problems for Telecommunication Towers in Very Dense Cities

Posted by Rohit Narayan on Apr 16, 2019 8:00:00 AM

This following is part of our telecom lightning protection series, which is based on our whitepaper “Earth Potential Rise in Public Spaces Near Telecommunications Facilities,” that presented at Intelec 2018.This paper is copyright of IEEE You can download the full whitepaper here.

Traditionally, telecommunication networks were housed in secure structures or locations, keeping them at an adequate distance from very dense populations.

Today, network densification is used to provide high data speeds. Some of the infrastructure—small cells, macro cells, street cabinets—will be located in densely populated metropolitan areas.

Lightning strikes to telecom facilities in these densely populated locations can cause headaches and costs for facility owners, including:

  • Dissatisfaction about the carrier from nearby network users
  • Concerns about personnel injury during lightning strikes
  • Costs, at times in the form of large compensations to neighbors

Historically, lightning protection and earthing system requirements for telecommunications facilities has been focused on protecting the facility and equipment.

While this method works for most facilities, in densely populated cities, attention must also be given to properties located close to the radio tower. The existing standards and design methods do not fully consider the effects a lightning strike to the tower may have on these nearby structures.

In this post, we assess the three problems this creates, and provide general solutions to those complications.

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Topics: Lightning Protection

What Are the Basic Differences Between UL 96A, NFPA 780 and LPI 175?

Posted by Spencer Allemang on Apr 2, 2019 8:00:00 AM
For electrical engineers, contractors, installers, designers and other individuals whose jobs involve lightning protection systems and related equipment, understanding all the relevant standards can be a daunting task.

To learn and apply the intricate requirements outlined in a given code or standard, we recommend referring to the specific document first.

In this article, we will examine three of the most prominent U.S. lightning system design, installation and inspection documents. We answer the following questions to direct you to the right one:
  • Why does each standard and organization exist?
  • Where can I find the necessary information for a given situation?
  • When is each applicable and how is it regulated?

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Topics: Lightning Protection

The Difference Between Lightning Protection and Surge Protection

Posted by The nVent ERICO Team on Oct 16, 2018 8:02:00 AM

Lightning is known to be the most significant source of surges—bolts have been recorded to have a million to a billion volts and between 10,000 to 200,000 amps. However, lightning only makes up a portion of all transient events in a facility.

Because transients can originate from both external sources (like lightning) and internal sources, facilities ought to have both a lightning protection system and surge protection installed.

This begs the question: what is the difference between these two systems, and how do they work together?  

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Topics: Lightning Protection, Surge Protection

How Machine Learning Is Being Applied to Smart Power Outlets [Plus More From the Electrical Engineering Industry]

Posted by The nVent ERICO Team on Oct 2, 2018 8:02:00 AM

Electrical engineering and components of the industry’s technology are getting smarter everyday, but implementation and installation of that technology is still up to those in the field. In this curated post, see a mix of both, including the following topics:

  • How MIT engineers are using machine learning to make a power outlet that gets smarter as it’s used.
  • Why lightning protection is especially critical for wind turbines, and how to assess protection effectiveness.
  • The 14 most common reasons electrical services are red tagged.

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Topics: Lightning Protection, Industry Trends, Facility Electrical Protection

How nVent ERICO Parts Protect Architect Frank Gehry’s Unique 320,000 Brick Building From Lightning Strikes

Posted by Philip Jones on Aug 21, 2018 8:51:00 AM

Editor's note: This post was originally published in 2017 and has been updated to be more comprehensive.

Famed architect Frank Gehry is known worldwide for his unique, contemporary style across a variety of building types. He is best known for designing the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles; and the Experience Music Project in Seattle, among other famous works.

In 2009, Gehry embarked on his next project: the Dr. Chau Chak Wing Building at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in Australia. The building was part of a $1 billion campus renovation project and Gehry’s first time designing a building in Australia.

The building was completed in November 2012 and came in on budget at $180 million. The structure stands tall at 12 stories high, yet has only one straight column supporting the entire building. Furthermore, the longest unbroken column is only 13.98 meters (45.87 feet).

Built with approximately 320,000 bricks, builders claimed the structure to be a challenge to construct. But another challenge arose even after construction was complete: installing a functional lightning protection system to adequately safeguard such a uniquely designed building. 

Read below to learn how nVent ERICO parts were used in the installation.

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Topics: Lightning Protection

The Science of a Lightning Strike and How to Safeguard Your Facility with a Lightning Protection System

Posted by Martin Havelka on May 22, 2018 8:02:00 AM

Lightning is a random, yet devastating phenomena. Across the U.S., a lightning strikes on average 25 million times per year and occurs at a rate of 100 flashes per second worldwide. And according to the National Weather Service, the average strike has an average magnitude of nearly 30,000 Amps.

While lightning strikes are unpredictable and no location or facility is immune from the threat of a lightning strike, there are ways to reduce the risk or damage. Reducing the risk of damage from a lightning strike, direct or nearby, with the installation of a lightning protection system is not always a part of new construction projects. However, shouldn’t it be?

With modern urban and provincial development, commercial and residential facilities contain valuable digital electronic equipment used for day-to-day work and entertainment functions, meaning large investments are at risk during thunderstorms. A direct lightning strike delivers damaging energy, which even the most robust electrical devices and systems cannot withstand if protection measures are not correctly taken.

Lightning strikes are unpredictable and random events. There is no technology available that can prevent lightning from striking a structure or guarantee 100% protection. Lightning protection is based on statistical probabilities and the risk tolerance of the property owner.

Continue reading below as we uncover the science of a lightning strike, and how you can reduce the likelihood of damage to your facility from lightning.

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Topics: Lightning Protection

Why a Proper Grounding System Is the Key to Effective Lightning Protection

Posted by Brian Liederbach on Apr 10, 2018 8:02:00 AM

Lightning currents inherently want to ground—whether the proper systems are in place or not. A lightning strike, which is intercepted by an air terminal, must have its current transferred to the earth safely and seamlessly. 

The grounding system is the integral part of a modern electrical lightning protection system that must be dependable for this process. 

Without an effective grounding system in place, dangerous ground faults, side flashes and electronic noise can occur, causing damage to structures, fires or personal injury.

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Topics: Lightning Protection, Grounding & Bonding

The Six Point Plan to Achieving Telecom Facility Lightning Protection

Posted by Rohit Narayan on Mar 13, 2018 8:01:00 AM

Lightning is a constant risk. A single direct strike can result in physical damage to buildings and cause catastrophic failure of sensitive electronic equipment. Lightning causes 22,600 fires per year and is the number one natural cause of system failures. As a result, these problems can result in substantial revenue losses.

Telecommunications facilities are particularly at risk of direct lightning strikes—and the electrical surges that ensue—due to their tall stature and complex electrical makeup. 

However, there is a way for engineers to protect telecommunication facilities from the devastating and lasting effects of lightning damage. 

According to Above Ground Level Magazine, engineers can help protect telecom facilities from the dangers associated with lightning strikes using a six point plan of protection. Continue reading below to learn more about these six steps of lightning protection for telecom facilities. 

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Topics: Lightning Protection

A Beginner’s Guide to Lightning Risks and Protection Methods

Posted by Brian Liederbach on Feb 13, 2018 8:03:00 AM

Scientists and scholars alike have had a longstanding fascination with lightning. Of course, the most famous student of this natural phenomenon, Benjamin Franklin, was also one of the first to study and document the dangers and effects of lightning. His research dates back to the 1700s.

Technology and knowledge have evolved since Franklin’s time, when the only method of protection was a simple lightning rod. Today, electrical engineers know the need for full facility lightning protection to defend everything from the structure, to personnel, to valuable electronic equipment, from strikes.

Need a refresher? Read below to learn the basics of lightning risks, as well as common lightning protection methods to lessen damages.

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Topics: Lightning Protection

Fires Caused By Lightning: How to Protect Your Facility

Posted by TJ Gaines on Dec 5, 2017 8:02:00 AM

From 2007 to 2011, it’s estimated that U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 22,600 fires started by lightning per year. While humans cause more fires than lightning, studies show that the devastation of lightning-caused fires is significant. 

The harm of direct lightning strikes is widely known, but recognizing the prominence of fires caused by lightning is equally important to understand, as we can play a role in minimizing them. 

Continue reading to learn how lightning causes fires, and how you can protect your facility from the associated damage.

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Topics: Lightning Protection