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Section 5.1.8

New International Standard for Lightning Protection,
IEC 62305

By Richard Kithil, President & CEO, NLSI

1. Present-Day Situation

More than 100 published lightning protection (LP) codes and standards are in use by various countries and by agencies within countries. The USA NFPA-780-2008 has undergone significant upgrading with new information about surge protection. The US Department of Energy recently released M440.1-1, Electrical Storms and Lightning Protection for application to explosives facilities. The US Air Force modified AFI 32-1065 to provide better guidance for critical operations. Yet many US codes and standards represent only minimum levels of safety application: NFPA-780 and UL 96a, by example, have no force of law behind them. At the other extreme, some US documents provide exacting information for specific problems confronting the LP engineer: IEEE 1100, IEEE 142 and FAA STD 019d/e are examples.

Looking outside of the USA’s often-isolated sources of information, a review of other nations’ LP documents is educational and interesting. There is considerable helpful guidance in, for example, Singapore’s CP 33, Australia/New Zealand’s AS/ANZ-1786 (2003), South Africa’s SABS-03, the German VDE 0185, and the British BS-6651. There is agreement and harmony among most national codes as the readers of the Chinese GB 50057, the Russian RD 34.21.122-87 , the Indian IS 2309, and the Polish PN-86/E-05003/01 will discover. Only with “renegade” ESE standards promoted by powerful commercial lobbying groups, such as the French NF C 17-102 and the Spanish UNE-21186, are government endorsements extant for unapproved, non-scientific LP systems.

2. The Future

Change is coming. The European TC 81 Technical Committee of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC, see is finalizing the five-part authoritative and comprehensive LP standard IEC 62305.

IEC 62305 will address in detail these subject matters:

  • Part 1 Protection of Structures Against Lightning: General Principles
  • Part 2  Risk Management
  • Part 3  Physical Damage and Life Hazard
  • Part 4  Electrical and Electronic Systems within Structures
  • Part 5 Services (telecom, powerlines, etc.)

3. Conclusion and Additional Information

Readers wishing greater detail about the New IEC 62305 are directed to a paper presented by Prof. C.  Bouquegneau at the recent ICLP 2004 meeting on the subject: A Critical View on the Lightning Protection International Standard.

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