Overvoltage characteristics of atmospheric origin

From Electrical Installation Guide
HomeOvervoltage protectionOvervoltage of atmospheric originOvervoltage characteristics of atmospheric origin

Lightning strokes in a few figures: Lightning flashes produce an extremely large quantity of pulsed electrical energy (see Figure J4)

  • of several thousand amperes (and several thousand volts),
  • of high frequency (approximately 1 megahertz),
  • of short duration (from a microsecond to a millisecond).

Between 2000 and 5000 storms are constantly undergoing formation throughout the world. These storms are accompanied by lightning strokes which represent a serious hazard for persons and equipment. Lightning flashes hit the ground at an average of 30 to 100 strokes per second, i.e. 3 billion lightning strokes each year.

The table in Figure J3 shows some lightning strike values with their related probability. As can be seen, 50% of lightning strokes have a current exceeding 35 kA and 5% a current exceeding 100 kA. The energy conveyed by the lightning stroke is therefore very high.

Fig. J3 – Examples of lightning discharge values given by the IEC 62305-1 standard (2010 - Table A.3)
Cumulative probability (%) Peak current (kA)
95 5
50 35
5 100
1 200
Fig. J4 – Example of lightning current

Lightning also causes a large number of fires, mostly in agricultural areas (destroying houses or making them unfit for use). High-rise buildings are especially prone to lightning strokes.