The Facts About Non-Standard Lightning Protection Systems

In recent years there have been attempts to introduce two types of lightning protection into the US that are not recognized by U.S. code authorities, are not eligible for any certification by any nationally recognized testing lab, and which have now been ruled non-compliant and excluded from coverage by the two major U.S. lightning protection standards; UL 96A and NFPA 780.

UL “Scope of Standard” | NFPA “Scope of Standard”

NFPA Scope of Standard NFPA Scope of Standard

This equipment is one of two types: “Dissipation Systems” and “Early Streamer” a/k/a (Enhanced Leader).

Dissipation Systems

Dissipation Systems claim to “bleed off” static charges so that lightning cannot strike the object upon which they are mounted. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) tested these and found these claims unfounded. Further, when struck, the effect is as shown here which poses a whole new set of fire and damage possibilities not associated with UL and NFPA systems.

Neither UL nor NFPA accepts the claims made for this type of lightning protection.

NFPA Scope of Standard


(Enhanced or Early Streamer Lightning Protection)

“ESE” (Enhanced or Early Streamer Lightning Protection) This type of lightning protection is likewise not accepted or recognized by US code authorities. Even though several appeals by supporters of these products including an independent scientific review panel and multiple appeals, NFPA refused to approve a separate standard for this equipment and continues to exclude it from the recognized NFPA 780 lightning protection code. Further, in field test caused by a lawsuit initiated by ESE proponents, it was found that ESE units perform no better than a simple, standard, lightning rod of equal height. The “protected zone” for a 20’ tall device turned out to be approximately 25 meters, not 100 meters as claimed. Subsequently, in that suit a US Federal Court ruled (Ruling No. CIV 96-2796 PHX/ROS) that this equipment did not perform as claimed and by ruling prohibited them from advertising any enhanced “zones”.

Finally, even in Europe where these products started, I.E.C. Codes and European Standards no longer allow the use of this equipment. Don’t accept our summary above and don’t take the claims of suppliers of this equipment as fact.

Review the following independent documents and consult with your legal and insurance advisors regarding any claims for exaggerated and unobtainable warranties, and property insurance provisions. Many false promises have been printed.

See the following sites for research papers and reports by scientific, non-industry, non-biased engineering professionals with respect to the performance of these methods.

Conventional and Un-conventional Lightning Air Terminals: An Overview

Case Studies on the Collection Volume Method

The Bell Tower Incident at Sigolsheim

Finally, beware of claims of large dollar value insurance offered as part of the package supplied by ESE proponents. All that is really being offered is a high value or umbrella coverage for product liability coverage for the material supplied. This is not specific coverage for any owner’s building. His own insurance would still be primary.

We urge you to have your insurance agent or carrier thoroughly investigate any such claims or promises.