Lightning Protection

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BRINGING TOGETHER – THE POWER OF LIGHTNING DETECTION, TRACKING & PROTECTION FOR PEACE OF MIND

At any given time, 2,000 thunderstorms blanket the earth, producing between 40-80 lightning strikes per second. These lightning events create a constant threat to critical facilities and human safety.

ALLTEC and its Lightning Detection Network partners are working together to provide enhanced tracking system capabilities to selected clientele. Along with physical protection measures, such as state-of-the-art lightning protection, surge suppression and grounding systems, these lightning warning systems assist in efforts to:

  • Protect critical facilities, equipment, records, and assets.
  • Provide a safe working environment for personnel.
  • Reduce the risk of downtime and lost revenue.
  • Reduce vulnerability of interdependent critical infrastructures, and build a disaster resilient enterprise.
  • Minimize liability and maintain a competitive position by ensuring uptime.

By creating either an “integrated” or “private” network for the detection and tracking of approaching lightning events, effective safety programs can be implemented.

Specific lightning events can be correlated to equipment damage/loss using precise and detailed reporting of a lightning strike’s time & date,  location and crest current value, and so assist in inspection & maintenance, as well as resolution of insurance claims.

Connecting lightning events to specific equipment or system failures can be a valuable tool in efforts to enhance protection measures and to correct installation or even basic infrastructure problems. If lightning strikes cause you problems, ALLTEC will be there to provide you the solutions you need.

Our lightning network solutions are customized to meet the needs of each client. They are highly accurate and typically consist of:

A ground-based sensor system with sensor assemblies installed in optimal locations.
Data processing and monitoring. Data from the sensors is relayed by internet to primary and backup processing centers to ensure full redundancy of information.
Provision of processed data results via the internet to end users. Depending on the network configuration and licensing, data is available as real-time or archival data sets and with numerous optional products and services.

Brief details about the USPLN and NAPLN are provided below to illuminate the capabilities of lightning sensor networks.

United States and North American Precision Lightning Networks

The USPLN was launched in 2004, responding to customer demand for an alternate lightning detection solution. With over 170 ground-based lightning detection sensors covering the continental United States, the USPLN provides coverage that is comprehensive, timely and accurate. The NAPLN is a geographic extension of the USPLN, incorporating additional sensors in Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico and parts of Central America.

The USPLN and NAPLN offer:

  • Complete cloud-to-ground stroke data with location, time, peak amplitude estimate and polarity.
  • Average delivery to user within 15 seconds of an event.
  • Flexible format and Internet delivery options, including real-time and historical lightning.

Real-time lightning offers important benefits to numerous operational activities such as personnel and equipment safety, immediate causal analysis, rapid deployment, situational awareness and tactical planning. WSI lightning data is available for almost any size area with several format and delivery options to accommodate the needs of all users.

 

 

Historical-United-States-lightning-data-represented-as-density-mapHistorical lightning data adds value to forensic analysis and investigations, logistical and operational planning, and integration with market information. Detailed statistical maps and reports provide an understanding of important local and regional trends and anomalies.

 

 

 

Lightning Network Technology

Our lightning network solutions are customized to meet the needs of each client. The lightning sensor system consists of:

A very sensitive ground-based sensor system with sensor assemblies installed in optimal locations (see separate Technical Requirements document). A sensor assembly consists of the TOA Systems LPS-200 receiver chassis, a GPS receiver antenna and stroke antenna.
Central processing and monitoring. For “private” networks, customers install software in their computing environment. For “public” networks, processing is performed at facilities in the United States. In both instances, data from the sensors is relayed by internet to primary and backup processing centers to ensure full redundancy of information.
Provision of resultant processed data via the internet to end users. For “private” networks, equipment, data and software are owned by the customer. For “public” networks, equipment is leased and data is licensed under terms of the arrangement. Data is available as real-time or archival data sets and with numerous optional products and services.

LPS-200 Lightning Sensor

LPS-200-lightning-sensor-receiverThe LPS-200 is 4th generation technology designed to provide higher precision lightning detection in a small, rugged and low power package, while using a fraction of the power of previous sensors.Utilizing a high sensitivity, low noise wideband receiver, state-of-the-art digital filters and equalizers, along with precision GPS time reference, the sensor is able to characterize and categorize the lightning stroke. Once identified, the LPS-200 initiates a TCP/IP message to the TOA Systems Central Analyzer Processor (CAP™) where the precise lightning location is calculated.

The LPS-200 has enormous advantages over other lightning sensor designs, in particular those based on magnetic direction finding (MDF) which suffers from significant site introduced errors and consequent high siting costs. Therefore, the TOA LPS-200 has more liberal siting criteria, and can be installed on existing structures, towers, and buildings where access to electric power and communications is readily at hand.

The sensor’s broadband receiver detects a substantial amount of the lightning energy that allows the system to distinguish between ground lightning and cloud lightning. With a broadband detector the different characteristics of ground strokes and cloud strokes can be identified. This allows classification of the detected strokes by the LPS sensors.

The sensor is also designed for remote configuration of the software. Software is downloadable over the communications link. The programs are stored in non-volatile memory on the board. It is not affected by power glitches, losses, or outages. Again, upgrades can be performed without visiting the site.

Central Analyzer Processor (CAP)

TOA’s lightning data analysis and processing system (CAP) computes and displays real-time lightning location information, archives data for historical analysis, allows remote reconfiguration of the sensors, and resumes operations automatically after a power outage.  The CAP includes all the required location software as well as archive, maintenance and network monitoring applications.

The CAP is an integral portion of the lightning location system, processing sensor data to calculate where lightning has occurred.  The CAP is programmed to process the location and distribute the data in less than 10 seconds.

The central processor connects to the external lightning sensor via direct connect, serial or TCP/IP communication lines. When three or more sensors notify the CAP that a transmission has occurred, the CAP attempts to mathematically determine the transmission origin using a Time Difference of Arrival (TDOA) algorithm.  Only three receivers are needed for the TDOA calculations, but more than three may intercept the same signal, adding to the network redundancy which improves accuracy calculations and verifies the performance.

Provision of Lightning Data

As mentioned before, ALLTEC’s partners WSI and TOA jointly deliver lightning data from several large area networks: the United States Precision Lightning Network, the North American Precision Lightning Network and regional global networks. Over 400 sensors have been installed throughout the world in the past 4 years, focused on the Americas, Europe, and Southeast Asia/Australia.

Global-lightning-data-display

Data from the networks include precise date and time (to millisecond) resolution, latitude and longitude coordinates for each event detected, calculated peak current/amplitude and confidence error estimates. Format and deliver mechanisms are highly flexible, and the data is easily displayed and alerted upon. Commercially available software includes:

1. The Google Earth Lightning Service, which directly ingests real-time lightning data into the Google Earth software. Features include:

  • Detailed lightning event information (location, time, and amplitude)
  • Storm cell representation at higher altitudes to expedite display;
  • Advanced features such as error ellipse analysis and circular alerting regions
  • User authentication and individual profiles.

Google-Earth-Lightning-Service-(storm-and-individual-event-views)

2. The Map Information Display System (MIDS), a Windows application program that can display, manipulate, and analyze real-time lightning data; available for select regions only. MIDS includes key features for operational users including:

  • Customizable lightning data viewer with symbolization by time or amplitude, and filtering by event type;
  • Comprehensive event display including date, time, amplitude, polarity, and type information;
  • Robust alerting with audible and visual alarms, range rings and alert area definition;
  • Tools such as measurements, layer symbolization, de-cluttering and error ellipses;
  • Data archival, retrieval, display and looping for historical analysis.

MIDS-Display

Site Selection and Installation

For the absolute best performance from a lightning sensor, it is important to obtain a site with the lowest possible RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) and with minimum other noise caused by the proximity to equipment such as heating/ventilation/air conditioning units. If a site has too many problems, other locations should be investigated. The overall lightning network will have better performance with low noise receiver sites.

The antennas can be installed on existing structures, towers and buildings. The ideal mounting location is on the corner of a roof of a tall building in an urban area. If this is not possible, the antennas should be mounted on the edge of the roof. They should be as far as practical from RF noise sources, guy wires, and large towers or nearby structures, including trees. The standard cable feed for both antennas is 100 feet of RG6 coaxial cable. A maximum length of 225 feet is possible. Please contact Technical Support if a longer length of cable is required.

  • Locate the stroke antenna as close to the building’s edge as possible; a corner is best.
  • Locate the stroke antenna outside a 60-degree conical space around the highest point of any structure (e.g. tower, tree, structure). The 60-degree conical space is the so-called shadow.
  • Use the 30:60:90 triangle formula to calculate the distance from the shadow to the placement of the stroke antenna. In other words, multiply the height of the structure as seen from the roof by 1.73 to give the length from the obstruction. For example, if a tower were 20 feet tall from the base of the roof, the stroke antenna would need to be located 34.6 feet past where the tower meets the roof.
  • Locate the GPS antenna to provide as much horizon-to-horizon view of the sky as possible. Microwave transmitters at the frequency of 1575 MHz +/- 300 MHz may be a problem for the GPS antenna if it is in the microwave path.

Site-Selection-and-Installation

A site survey should be conducted at each potential sensor site, evaluating RFI (Radio Frequency Interference), ideal antenna placement, ideal sensor (indoor unit) placement, antenna and sensor environment, and installation needs. Other factors to be considered are Internet access, available clean AC power and a solid electrical Earth Ground. The site survey should also include a site drawing and photographs that can be used to aid in the planning of the sensor locations.

Sensor Equipment

The first step is to place the sensor in its chosen location. The sensor can be wall mounted or placed on a table, shelf, etc.

It is important that the LPS-200 sensor has a clean and dedicated power source. The ideal setup would be a dedicated power line from the main panel to the UPS then to the sensor, bypassing all the sub-panels and any “dirty devices” such as air conditioners and other AC noise-producing equipment. If this is not possible, an isolation UPS system that provides clean AC to the sensor can guarantee no spurious noise interference caused by electrical power problems.

Once the sensor has power supplied, connect the RJ45 network cable from the Ethernet port on the front panel of the sensor to the proper network hardware (switch, hub, router, firewall or modem). The sensor is preconfigured as a DHCP client. If the sensor needs to be configured with a static IP address, please refer to the full Technical Requirements document. The set up for static IP may have been previously performed by Technical Support, in which case no additional configuration will be required.

Once the antennas are installed, connect the corresponding antenna cable feed lines to the antenna-to-sensor connectors located on the rear panel of the sensor. Verify functionality of both the GPS and stroke antennas with your Technical Support contact. They may request additional changes.

Antennas

Two antennas must be installed: the first is an active GPS antenna used for timing reference. The second is an 8 foot whip antenna used for stroke detection. They are mounted together using the antenna hardware kit provided.

Lightning-Sensor-Network_Installed_1

Network Proposals

The United States Precision Lightning Network (USPLN) is an excellent representation of the infrastructure requirements for and resultant data that can be expected from a relatively dense network. The USPLN consists of over 160 sensors throughout the continental United States, with an average distance sensor spacing of 100-400 km. Detection efficiency is between 90 and 95% throughout the US, and mean location accuracy is 250-500 meters depending on location. Additional sensors are being added regularly to decrease baseline distances and improve quality metrics.

United-States-network-sensor-arrangement

Similar metrics and capabilities would be anticipated in many parts of the world, with a network ranging from 5 to 12 sensors and also utilizing any existing sensor infrastructure in the region.

Example – Malaysia Integrated Network

  • Integrated network of 5 new sensors plus existing sensors in the region for enhanced coverage.
  • Customer recommends feasible sensor locations which are evaluated by ALLTEC. Additional technical information may be required with input from ALLTEC and its partners.
  • Customer pays for shipping of sensors and manages customs process.
  • Customer performs sensor installations and ensures operational status.
  • ALLTEC’s partners own all hardware and software; customer licenses sensors.
  • ALLTEC’s partners perform data processing, monitoring and quality control, and generates and distributes end-products to customer.
  • ALLTEC’s partners provide software upgrades to processing system and hardware upgrades, replacements or maintenance units as required.
  • ALLTEC’s partners have unrestricted license to utilize and distribute resulting data worldwide, and license to distribute data in-country commercially.
  • Customer has enterprise license to utilize data in-country; customer may not distribute data externally or worldwide without a separate resale/redistribution agreement.
  • Term of lease is 5 years.

Example-Malaysia-integrated-network

Example – Colombia Scenarios

Private Network

  • Private network of 12 sensors.
  • Customer recommends feasible sensor locations which are evaluated by ALLTEC. Additional technical information may be required with input from ALLTEC and its partners.
  • ALLTEC’s partners ship sensors and assists with onsite sensor installations.
  • Customer owns, operates and is responsible for management of all hardware.
  • Customer owns and operates all software and is responsible for processing data within their IT infrastructure.
  • Customer has exclusive rights to the resultant data.

Integrated Network

  • Integrated network of 12 new sensors plus 4 to 6 existing sensors in the region for enhanced coverage.
  • Customer recommends feasible sensor locations which are evaluated by ALLTEC. Additional technical information may be required with input from ALLTEC and its partners.
  • Customer pays for shipping of sensors and manages customs process.
  • Customer performs sensor installations and ensures operational status.
  • ALLTEC’s partners owns all hardware and software; customer licenses sensors.
  • ALLTEC’s partners perform data processing, monitoring and quality control, and generates and distributes end-products to customer.
  • ALLTEC’s partners provides software upgrades to processing system and hardware upgrades, replacements or maintenance units as required.
  • WSI has unrestricted license to utilize and distribute resulting data worldwide, and license to distribute data in-country commercially.
  • Customer has enterprise license to utilize data in-country; customer may not distribute data externally or worldwide without a separate resale/redistribution agreement.
  • Term of lease is 5 years.

Example-Colombia-integrated-network1

Sample Quotations

 

5-year Lease with Sensor and Data Sharing (Integrated Network)

Lightning Sensor Hardware

  • Lightning Sensor (LPS-200)
  • UPS (for sensor)
  • Antennas & Cabling

Lightning Processing Software

  • Sensor data processing, quality control and monitoring performed at ALLTEC’s partners

Data License

  • Enterprise corporate license of real-time data with archival rights. Coverage would be based on number of sensors covering region (min 200 km x 200 km)

Lightning Display Software

  • Google Earth Viewer Client License – Web service for lightning location display/alerting
  • Optional additional client licenses of Google Earth Viewer & setup- or – Map Information Display System (MIDS) Windows application program
  • Optional additional client viewer licenses & setup

Support Items

  • Sensor location selection: joint responsibility of Customer, ALLTEC and its partners to ensure adequate coverage
  • Configuration, shipping logistics, and installation support: responsibility of ALLTEC’s partners
  • Equipment and software maintenance and upgrade: responsibility of ALLTEC’s partners
  • Installation: responsibility of ALLTEC (to be quoted separately)
  • Shipping and customs fees and brokerage support: responsibility of Customer
Purchase of Private Lightning Detection System

Lightning Sensor Hardware

  • Lightning Sensor (LPS-200)
  • UPS (for sensor)
  • Antennas & Cabling
  • Server Rack
  • UPS (for servers)

Lightning Location Processing

  • Central Analysis Processor (CAP) Computer
  • Lightning Location Processing Software Suite
  • NetPlex – Sensor connection and routing
  • CAP – Central Analysis Processor
  • LightningDepot – Solution distribution

Data Server, Configuration and Status

  • Client App Data Server Computer
  • Configuration and Status Software Suite
  • System Configuration Tool – System configuration and routing application
  • Sensor Controller – Sensor configuration and control software
  • System Status Viewer – Live system status display
  • Stroke Server – Solution client connection manager

Data Storage and Retrieval

  • Solution Database Computer
  • Data Storage and Retrieval Software Suite
  • Solution DB – Solution storage application
  • Solution Query Tool – Web based solution query interface
  • Google Earth Server – Solution server for Google Earth Viewer

System Solution Display Software

  • Google Earth Viewer Client License – Web service for lightning location display and alerting in Google Earth- or – Map Information Display System (MIDS) Windows application program
  • Optional additional client viewer licenses & setup
  • Location Accuracy/Detection Efficiency Simulator

Required Support Items

  • Sensor location selection
  • Shipping, installation support, initial onsite training
Appendix – Sample Installation Photographs

Lightning-Sensor-Network_Installed_2 Lightning-Sensor-Network_Installed_3 Lightning-Sensor-Network_Installed_4

Corporate Overviews

ALLTEC is an international, full-service company specializing in customized design & engineering solutions for grounding/earthing & bonding, surge/transient protection, and lightning protection. We offer decades of knowledge and experience to our customers, advising of the best methods for risk mitigation, and ultimately applying those evaluations as comprehensively engineered solutions for today’s infrastructure challenges.

Since 1991, ALLTEC has been a leader in applying global engineered solutions which reduce the risks associated with direct and indirect lightning strikes, as well as diminishing the hidden effects of surge events.

We have focused continuously on innovating new technology, improving solutions, refining product quality and enhancing customer service. As Solution Providers for an Energized World™ we offer a comprehensive facility protection approach to solving the world’s most difficult lightning, grounding and power quality problems. ALLTEC has the knowledge, experience, and products to provide the optimal protection solution.

Our mission is to exceed the expectations of our customers. We aspire to the highest level of excellence in our risk mitigation evaluation, product & technology offerings, design, and systems services. We accomplish this by committing all of our resources to achieve superior customer satisfaction.

ALLTEC Partners include WSI Corporation (WSI) and TOA Systems, Inc. (TOA)  WSI is the world’s leading provider of weather-driven business solutions that enable enterprises to make better decisions using the most accurate and precise weather data available. WSI serves some of the world’s biggest brands in the aviation, energy, insurance, and media markets, as well as federal and state government agencies. Headquartered in Massachusetts, WSI is proud to be a part of The Weather Company, which focuses entirely on the weather, delivering billions of discrete forecasts per day around the world, through a portfolio that includes The Weather Channel®, weather.com®, WSI and Weather Underground.

TOA is located in Florida and was founded with the mission of developing, manufacturing, selling and supporting lightning location networks, and lightning hazard warning sensors and systems. TOA is focused on providing their clients with the most accurate, affordable and reliable lightning detection and warning systems available today. TOA’s beginnings date to 1983 with Dr. Rodney B. Bent, the founder and CEO, and they now have more than 30 years of experience in designing, manufacturing, installing and supporting lightning location systems. Dr. Bent’s technology was the first to be installed across the USA in order to establish a national lightning detection network. This technology was also installed in 16 countries around the world and is today still used in Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and many other countries.

TOA Systems’ major successes in the US and international markets have established them as a credible and effective supplier of lightning detection network solutions worldwide. Since 2007, WSI has partnered with TOA to refine and expand the United States Precision Lightning Network™ (USPLN™) and to create the North American lightning network (the North American Precision Lightning NetworkSM (NAPLNSM) WSI’s extensive weather capabilities include supplying existing and new customers with a suite of data products and services from the USPLN and NAPLN.  Internationally, WSI works with TOA to provide regionalized networks with the highest quality localized solutions. In addition, WSI supplies long-range global lightning data from the World Wide Lightning Location Network (WWLLN).

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