The basics of marine lightning protection haven't really changed much since the day of Benjamin Franklin. An air terminal (lightning rod), main lightning down conductor, grounding terminal (strip or plate) and side flash conductors are still the best protection for diverting the lightning energy away from people and critical equipment
The only significant difference in boating is that the lightning energy can also enter the boat through its shore power connection
(See NFPA 780 and ABYC TE-04)
The air terminal should be installed at the highest point or points on the boat
The grounding terminal should be a corrosion resistant metal plate installed as close as practical to the waterline
The main lightning down conductor should run between the air terminal and grounding terminal in as straight a line as possible and away from other wiring
Side flash conductors must be installed to interconnect rigging, tanks and other large metal objects
Marine lightning protection is primarily installed to protect personnel not property.
FAIL-The air terminal is not the highest point on the mast with antennas being out of the zone of protection
FAIL-The lightning main conductor is secured to other wiring which induces high electrical currents in this wiring during a strike
FAIL-The bonding system is used as part of the lightning protection system which can energize bonded equipment during a strike
FAIL-The propeller shaft is used as the grounding terminal which can energize the engine electronics during a strike.
FAIL-Side flash conductors not installed
Aluminum masts can be used for a lightning main conductor but carbon fiber masts are not conductive enough
Lightning rods and main conductors do not attract lightning to your boat but merely provide an attachment point for the lightning and will divert the lightning energy away from sensitive equipment. With no air terminal, lightning would attach a nearby antenna or grounded metal structure
Fuzzy metal rods and uniquely shaped domes are marketed as lightning preventers. We have yet to see a peer reviewed study which supports this contention. Therefore, we continue to believe that a properly installed "old school" lightning protection system with strategically placed SPDs offers the best protection
Surge protection Devices (SPDs) are the newest and most exciting development in the marine industry. These devices can be thought of as "voltage fuses" and work by sacrificing themselves to absorb the lightning energy, thereby keeping lightning surge voltage low
SPDs have long been available for 120 volt and 240 volt circuits but are now readily available for 12 VDC, 24 VDC, data systems, communication circuits and antennas
SPDs must be properly rated (UL 1449) and installed correctly but can effectively protect expensive, lightning sensitive and mission critical equipment
Polyphaser, Transtector, ABB, Leviton and Eaton are only a few of the vendors who can provide SPDs
The cost of marine lightning damage repairs lately seems to be rising exponentially
The repair cost increases are likely due to increasing use and complexity of marine electronic systems, rapid expansion of digital networks and the interconnection of onboard systems.
Costs can also be driven up by misunderstanding the nature of lightning damage, poor fiscal responsibility by repair vendors or the insured (open checkbook syndrome) and inadequate repair oversight
Expect to see significant changes in how carriers handle lightning damage in for boats in lightning prone areas
Copyright © 2018 Cote Marine LLC - All Rights Reserved.
Powered by GoDaddy Website Builder