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How do you protect yourself against lightning?

Posted by Bruce Garlock

The summer months in the northeast usually bring hot, humid weather, and the occasional afternoon thunderstorm. Recently, one of our buildings was hit by lightning, and we lost some equipment as a result. Slashdot had a recent post on this subject How to Protect a Network Against Lightning? and some of the answers were helpful, but I am wondering what pcunix.com users have to say about the subject. For example, one post suggested grounding is the key:



	I sell and install radio equipment that is installed
	on towers that range in height from 40 to 1400 feet.
	The taller ones are guarenteed to get direct hits from
	lightning ~every~ thunderstorm. The key to preventing
	damage is grounding. It doesn't matter what kind of
	lightning protection you have if your site grounding
	is not up to par. In a commercial building situation,
	the power entrance to the building must have adequate
	grounding. Isolation transformers are a great help as
	well. Lightning can also enter buildings via phone
	and network cables so make sure the telco demarc is
	properly grounded.
 

I also found a small slideshow that showed some "fried" equipment from the result of a lightning strike: http://www.austinwaldorf.org /tools/expose.html (link dead, sorry). Although our hit was not that bad, mostly NICS, and some serial interface cards for our dot matrix printers, after seeing these pictures I am a bit more worried for the next time this happens. I really would like to know how to properly ground the telco demarc, since this could easily be an entry way into the network, since we have multiple T-1's connecting our buildings, and for our Internet access.


- Bruce Garlock

See Protecting from Lightning by BigDumbDinosaur.



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---July 20, 2004

Thanks for the article! Very informative, and from everything I have been reading, grounding seems to be the key. Time to talk to our electrical contractor!

- Bruce Garlock

"I really would like to know how to properly ground the telco demarc..."

That task is the responsibility of the TelCo and access to the ground lug in the NetPoP (aka demarc) is usually from within the TelCo part of the NetPoP. In fact, it is the TelCo's best interests to verify reliable grounds on all NetPoPs, since strikes to phone cable can cause extensive damage to splice boxes, as well as attached apparatus. Look for either a ground rod in the vicinity of the NetPoP or a bond to a cold water pipe inside the premises close to where the NetPoP has been installed.

--BigDumbDinosaur

---July 21, 2004

I verified today that all of our NetPoP locations apear to be properly grounded. The ground wire is attached to a cold water pipe at all locations, so things look good there. Thanks for the info.

- Bruce Garlock

Just for fun, see how tight the ground clamp screws are on the water pipe. <Grin>

--BigDumbDinosaur



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