Early Streamer Emission (ESE) Lightning Protection Systems

In this previous article we talked about passive lightning protection systems. In the following article we will be paying more attention to active or early streamer emission (ESE) protection systems.

In very simple terms, the main difference between passive and active systems is that a passive system is a conductor that sits at the highest point of a structure and is connected to the ground terminal with a heavy-duty cable. This type of device is known by a few names such as a lightning conductor or Franklin rod.

These devices are relatively straightforward, in the crudest sense it could be described as a spike pointing skywards. The main difference with an active device is that it uses an ionization system that is activated by electromagnetic field, which is produced by the advancing storm.

An additional bonus of ESE systems is that they provide a greater protection radius than that afforded by a passive lightning conductor.

When the atmospheric conditions are ‘normal’ the device does not appear to work. It simply sits there like any other passive design. However, as a storm approaches the difference in potential between the groundside and the atmospheric side grows.

It is this difference of potential that becomes the power source for the active system.

As this build up peaks the electric field value, which is able to ionise the air around the tip and this happens at a higher speed than with a simple rod, this in turn allows an increase in voltage within the device that is higher than at ground level.

What happens next is the formation of an upward leader from corona discharges (streamers) that propagate towards the downward leader. One of these streamers will then become the upward leader and this will continuously propagate towards the downward leading, thus creating the lightning discharge path.

A distinct advantage that the active systems have over their passive brethren is that they can protect a wider area from lightning strikes. As a consequence of providing a greater area of protection, it becomes possible to use fewer active rods in order to provide the same level of defence as a passive system. An added bonus is that an active system protects not only the structure that it is mounted to, but also surrounding and open areas.

Please Note: At the time of writing, this type of lightning protection system is not part of the current British Standards BS EN 62305 Protection Against Lightning. Whilst they are used effectively in other countries, we always advise you follow best practices and adhere to the standards.

Fabricated Barrier: Is There A Better Solution?

Fabricating barrier is the process of creating, bending, welding and assembling pre-designed and sometimes bespoke sections of barrier ready to be taken to site and installed by welding.

It is a relatively expensive, time-consuming and inflexible process.

The process is design intensive and may require several drafts design work to get the procession needed.

If a section of barrier has been fabricated incorrectly and discovered once on site, there’s not much that can be done other than to fabricate a new section and return to site at a later date.

Once fabricated barrier has been installed and welded, it’s a difficult process to change if problems arise. For example:

The photograph above shows two sections of fabricated barrier that have been welded. The process of welding has affected the protective coating and has opened up the steel tubing to weather conditions, triggering the rusting process.

Not only does this look bad but it also affects the strength of the barrier creating a safety risk.

A Skilled Workforce

Another problem with fabricated barrier is the labour consideration.

The process of installing fabricated barrier requires specialist welding tools and highly trained fitters. It also presents a number of health and safety issues and will most likely require permits for hot work.

A Better Solution To Fabricating Barrier

The solution is Kee Klamp fittings.

Harcon Services are able to provide you with Kee Klamp hot dip galvanised iron and Kee Lite aluminium fittings. These slip-on components and lengths of tube provide superior hazard protection without the worry of the issues that come with fabricated rails.

Our fittings are very flexible and you will also find that they only require a minimal amount of drawing. You don’t need to worry about highly skilled labourers and you also don’t need to worry about work permits as well. Anyone can fit these railings and this is all down to the hexagonal screws

You also don’t have to worry about the cutting either. The tube will maintain its integrity and this is another huge benefit when compared to fabricated systems. In some towns where there is more of a marine climate, such as Newcastle-Upon-Thames, the lifetime of a galvanised fitting is around 37 years.

Take a look at the difference between fabricated barrier and fittings:

On the second picture, if any rust or climate damage started to occur, the section of tubing affect could be unscrewed and replaced without any major issues.

The benefits of Kee Fittings

Kee Klamp and Kee Lite fittings offer a very durable solution and they are also ideal if you want to separate people from a number of hazards. On top of this, it can last up to seven times longer when compared to barriers that have been fabricated. You also eliminate the need for welding, skilled labour and even permits.

Take a look below to get a better idea about the benefits that are available.

  • Strong and Durable Solutions
  • Resilient to Corrosion
  • A Lifespan that is 7 Times Longer when Compared to Fabricated Handrails
  • No Need to Weld, Thread, Cut or Bolt
  • No Skilled Labour Required
  • Quick and Easy Installations
  • Flexible
  • Quick Replacement Possible


Ladder Safety – How Ladder-Spurs Can Stabilise Access

There are times when access to certain areas just is not required on a twenty-four hour basis. Apart from regular inspections it would be unusual, for example to have constant access to a lift motor.

Yet the layout of a building can sometimes mean that a standard fire door is not appropriate due to opening space/size limitations. Yet that opening is not one that can be left unprotected, reducing the possibility of an accident is a key issue after all. A relatively straightforward solution to this particular issue could be a safety gate that could be retrofitted into virtually any space and if that gate had a self-closing capability then the problem is removed.

Sometimes that access hatch causes problems by being above head height. Not a fall hazard, far from it but it does cause a problem when having to do a significant amount of work within the area the access leads to. The traditional way to overcome access issues like this is the ladder. A simple solution that is effective and, when it has been set up correctly, safe to use.

The problem with the ladder is that the base is only a little wider than the top. The stability of the ladder can be improved by using a simple product, such as the Kee Safety Ladder-spurs.

This relatively simple addition to any set of ladders increases the lateral stability by reducing the risk of outward slip at the base. In turn, the spurs also reduce the chance of the top of the ladder slipping.

In buildings where space is at a premium, storage can become a matter of using a mezzanine floor. In these instances the safest solution to preventing a fall is the installation of a pallet gate.

In many cases, these can be manufactured as the building is being constructed. The drawback to this type of gate is that if there is any accidental damage, a pallet hitting the uprights is a regular problem, when the damaged area has to be cut out and a new section welded into place. The costs of doing this type of repair can be inhibitive.

Whereas a modular system that can be attached to existing railings are a more effective answer, while also reducing the costs of repairs caused by impact damage. The other benefit of using a modular system is that it can always be modified as a company’s needs change over time.

Where the safety of the individual is as important as preventing pallet related incidents it is always a useful option to be able to add toe-boards at a later time. Then staff waiting on the mezzanine do not run the risk of crush injuries from pallets being raised onto the higher level.