Lightning Protection System



The lightning phenomenon

Lightning is a natural phenomenon of disruptive electrostatic discharge which is produced when static electricity accumulates between a cloud and the earth. The different electric potential between the two points can be up to 100 million volts and produces plasma on discharge, causing an explosive expansion in the air through release of heat. When it disperses, this plasma creates both a flash of light (lightning) and a sound (thunder).


Formation of or the arrival of a storm cloud creates an electric field between the cloud and the ground. This electric field increases up to values of 10 kV/m, thus initiating creation of corona discharges from irregularities on the ground or from metal structures (projections). Lightning between the cloud and the ground is composed of both downward leaders and upward leaders


The negative downward leader (most frequent case), starts within the negative masses of the cloud. This leader then propagates downward in a succession of intermittent steps (contrary to the positive leader which travels without stepping) of about ten metres and with pauses of 40 à 100 µs between steps. As the leader progresses, one can see numerous forks pointing downwards

Without adequate protection, propagation of lightning current can lead to multiple effects which are divided into two main categories: direct and indirect effects:

Direct effects: Mechanical Effects, Thermal Effects, Electrochemical Effects, Step potential

Indirect effects: Overvoltage’s are conducted, Overvoltage’s are induced, Surges in tension on the earthing systems, Earth potential rise.

To reduce and to protect from these different effects (both direct and indirect), it is necessary to have a state of-the-art Installation for External Lightning Protection System (ELPS) and Interior Lightning Protection System (ILPS), with particular care taken in earthing and interconnections with the conducting elements running alongside the down conductor poles and the electric masses of the installation.


When the downward leader gets close to the ground (about 100 metres above the point), it generates an electric field above it which increases until 100 kilovolts per metre.

This is when the corona discharge effect takes place, changing suddenly from a position at the tip to an upward leader.

These positive upward leaders suddenly move in the direction of the downward leader. One of the leaders, the closest or the one which has started earlier or the one which has travelled the faster, enters into contact with the downward leader. Then, the ionised air channel is in connection with both the ground and the cloud, and the return stroke can take place, engendering a high lightning current of many kA.

The air terminal IONIFLASH MACH® is a device for lightning protection with a spherical metal part fixed to the top. This sphere is insulated from the rod by a ring made from a material with very high electrical insulation properties.

When a storm comes, the external electrode (sphere) charges under the influence of the electric field until the potential reaches a critical value from which a spark appears between the exterior electrode and the tip of the central electrode. The tip enables plasma to be created close by the tip.

The plasma, in association with the intense electric field created close by the tip, constitutes the first stage of development of an upward leader.

The spark produced at the top of the IONIFLASH MACH® air terminal will initiate the advance of the discharge, engendering an upward leader moving in the direction of the downward leader.






The radius of protection (Rp) of an E.S.E. air-terminal depends on its height (h) in relation to the surface to be protected, its early streamer emission time (∆t) and the level of protection (Lp) chosen.


Rp (h) (m) corresponds to the protection radius for a stated height (h);

h (m) =corresponds to the height of the tip of the E.S.E. air-terminal in relation to the horizontal point passing through the top of the element to be protected.

r (m)

– 20m for protection level I

– 30m for protection level II

– 45m for protection level III

– 60m for protection level IV

∆(m) = ∆T x 106

The experience shows that ∆ efficiency is obtained during the evaluation tests of the E.S.E. air-terminal.



Lightning Risk Assessment and Technical Studies for complex cases, France Paratonnerres uses: The IONEXPERT 3000® enables quickly and easily to determine the Protection Level required, in order to protect efficiently, and according the standard a site. IONEXPERT 3000® has been developed by France Paratonnerres.


Moreover, this software gives a Quick Technical Study of the site and quick view of the protection radius of the air terminals.


COMPONENTS FOR INSTALLATION OF LIGHTNING PROTECTION: The components that are used in ESE Lighting Arrester includes: Lightning rod, Down Conductor, Lightning Strike Counter, Earthing, Brackets & Fixing.



IONIFLASH MACH® Air Terminals Stainless steel 316 L range: Early Streamer Emission Air Terminal for the protection of all the structures and opened areas from lightning.




This counter records each lightning stroke on a lightning protection system. This information can be useful to do the maintenance of the lightning protection system after a lightning impact.




The Stainless Steel Pole: To attach the Air Terminal on a lightning protection installation 2 m above the highest point. The top has a threaded part at the top to fix the air terminal IONIFLASH MACH®.




The extended masts: These 304L stainless steel extended masts are used to raise the height of the Air Terminal on the highest point of the building.



Capture point brackets: Brackets for capture point equipped with a waterproof ring. Points fixed in masonry or on a metal roof structure.


Embedding clamp: For fixing air terminals on masonry


Universal clamp: Universal clamp for fixing air tripod or stand-alone version.








Tripod: Fixing Air terminals on flat roofs. Bolted terminal brackets on all types of elements.


4.DOWN CONDUCTORS: For use as down-conductors for earthing systems of Air Terminals



Conductor Fixing:


Conductors interconnection:


5.EARTHING SYSTEM: The earthing systems are efficiently designed and installed for the safe conduction of extreme and high voltage that is associated with lightning strikes


Earth rod: To make in-depth earthing systems.


Earthing mesh: Copper earthing mesh enabling better distribution of current.



  • Very low dispersion of its performances
  • Functioning well adapted to the lightning frequency range (0 to 10 MHz)
  • Is not sensible to bad weather with its internal spark gap
  • Two spark gaps proportioned in order to have an adapted range of working and this, whatever the meteorological conditions are. (rain, snow, hail…)
  • No electronic device > No energy consumption − Electrostatic activation of the streamer emission device during the increase of electromagnetic field of the earth
  • No fragile component > Metallic parts in Stainless steel 316 L
  • Functioning still optimum after 2 serial tests with 7 lightning strokes in normalized wave 10/350 µs at 100 kA
  • Eco-conception of the IONIFLASH MACH® is implemented being concerned by the environment − Patented technology.
  • Higher efficiency demonstrated (High Voltage Laboratories results on request)
  • Electrical and physical continuity from the IONIFLASH MACH tip to the earth.
  • Support tools for study and installation (software IONEXPERT3000, operational test devices IONICHECK®, impulse counter IONICOUNT®).
  • 7 years guarantee. Life cycle of 25 years. All materials in stainless steel 316L, protective fairing.
  • Lowest carbon impact 33 kg eq. CO2/unit.
  • Tested in accordance to the NF C 17-102 ed. 2011, EN 50164-1, IEC 60061-1, UNE 21186 standards, production conformed to ISO 9001-2008 standard (Certification N9 FR003277-2).

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