Lightning protection is built into the majority of electrical specifications for new build projects, and for good reason. The primary risks identified by the latest British Standard, BSEN 62305 2011 are, “loss of human life” and “loss of service to the public”.
By its nature, in order for lightning protection to work effectively, conductors have to be readily accessible to receive a lightning discharge. After extensive design work at considerable expense by teams of Architects, the last thing anyone wants to see is an external lightning protection system surely?
Modern building practices and the vast range of lightning protection materials are such that this need not be of concern.
Provided they are correctly designed into a lightning protection system by an ATLAS accredited designer, the metallic roofing, architectural features, guttering, plant screens, etc together with the steel framework, or steel reinforcing bars within a concrete structure are all acceptable for use as part of the lightning protection system negating the need for extensive visual traditional conductors.
Even where external conductors are required, lightning protection has become so commonplace in today’s construction industry that they can be designed in at an early stage of the buildings conception. Indeed conductors are regularly built into cavities, behind render and decorative curtain walling. In addition, (where the demands of BSEN 62305 allow) conductors can be hidden by rain water pipes, installed below roofing tiles and beneath the surface of the increasingly popular ‘green’ and ‘brown’ eco-style roofs.
Where it is necessary for conductors to be visible there are a variety of different colours of pvc sheathing and clips available to try and mask their presence as much as possible.
The more complex the structure, the more nooks and crannies are available to hide traditional conductors. The more modern the structure, the more natural elements available in their construction which can be used as a substitute for traditional conductors.
Not forgetting the other ‘hidden’ major element of a correctly installed lightning protection system, in addition to structural protection, all services entering or leaving a structure and from any roof mounted equipment, must be provided with suitable surge protection devices (SPDs).
So go on, the next time you are out, try and spot a lightning protection system. If you can’t it doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t there!