TAKO since 1979: Difference between conventional and ese lightning arrester

TAKO since 1979: Difference between conventional and ese lightning arrester

Understanding the Difference between Conventional and ESE Lightning Arresters

Lightning, a natural phenomenon with immense power, can wreak havoc on structures and electrical systems. To mitigate the potential damage caused by lightning strikes, lightning arresters play a crucial role. In this blog, we will delve into the world of lightning protection and explore the key differences between conventional lightning arresters and the more advanced Early Streamer Emission (ESE) lightning arresters.

Basics of Lightning Arresters

Before diving into the differences, let’s understand the fundamental purpose of lightning arresters. A lightning strike generates a powerful surge of voltage that, if unchecked, can damage the wiring and electrical systems of a facility. Lightning arresters act as a defense mechanism for the power system, diverting these high voltage surges to the ground. The primary goal is to provide a low-impedance path for the lightning strike, allowing it to reach the ground without adversely affecting the structure or its electrical components.

Conventional Lightning Arresters

Structure and Working Principle

Conventional lightning arresters typically consist of Franklin rods strategically placed at elevated points on a structure. The effectiveness of these rods depends on factors such as their position, morphology, materials used, and their reaction to the electrostatic field during a lightning event.

The placement of conventional lightning arresters involves positioning the rods at dominant heights, making them favorable points for lightning strikes. The positive charge rises to the tip of the lightning rod. When a lightning strike occurs, the device allows the lightning leader from the cloud to reach the ground safely through the grounding system. As a result, the current discharge is evenly distributed throughout the ground, protecting the structure.


Conventional lightning arresters have been a reliable method for lightning protection for many years. However, their efficiency depends on factors like proper installation, maintenance, and the specific characteristics of the structure they are protecting.

ESE Lightning Arresters

Early Streamer Emission (ESE) Technology

The key innovation in ESE lightning arresters lies in their Early Streamer Emission technology. These devices are also known as active lightning rods. Unlike conventional lightning rods, ESE lightning arresters are designed to emit a stream of ions into the air.

Working Mechanism

During a storm, when conditions in the propagation field are favorable, an ESE air terminal generates an upward leader. This upward leader, originating from the ESE tip, propagates toward the downward leader from the cloud at an average speed of 1 m/µs. The emission of this early streamer to a lightning event offers a beneficial triggering time compared to a single rod air terminal exposed to the same conditions.

Response Time

One of the significant differences between conventional and ESE lightning arresters is the response time (ΔT). The response time refers to the time taken to ground the lightning strike through the lightning protection system. According to NFC 17-102, the ΔT for an ESE Lightning Arrester should be at least 10μs. This rapid response time is achieved by storing energy from the ambient electromagnetic field or static charges at the time of the lightning.

Protection Radius

ESE lightning arresters have the advantage of covering a larger radius compared to traditional lightning arresters. This broader protection radius is a critical factor, especially in scenarios where extensive coverage is required.

Comparative Analysis

Speed of Response

The most notable distinction between conventional and ESE lightning arresters is the speed of response. ESE lightning arresters, with their early streamer emission technology, can detect and respond to lightning strikes more rapidly than their conventional counterparts. The ability to emit streamers earlier provides an added layer of protection by intercepting lightning before it gets too close to the protected structure.

Coverage Area

ESE lightning arresters excel in protecting larger areas. The broader protection radius makes them ideal for applications where extensive coverage is essential, such as in open spaces, sports grounds, or solar parks. This characteristic makes ESE lightning arresters a cost-effective solution for lightning protection in scenarios where traditional lightning rods might fall short.

Triggering Mechanism

Conventional lightning rods rely on their elevated position to attract lightning strikes. In contrast, ESE lightning arresters are more proactive. They create a path for lightning by emitting ions into the air, providing an earlier triggering mechanism. This proactive approach contributes to their faster response time and enhanced effectiveness.

Standards and Testing

Both conventional and ESE lightning arresters need to adhere to specific standards to ensure their reliability and performance. Testing protocols, such as those defined in Annex C of the French standard NF C 17-102 (2011 Version), are essential to validate the efficiency of ESE lightning arresters. Conventional lightning arresters, while proven over time, also require adherence to installation and maintenance standards for optimal performance.


In the realm of lightning protection, the choice between conventional and ESE lightning arresters depends on various factors, including the specific requirements of the structure, the desired coverage area, and the need for rapid response. While conventional lightning rods have been stalwarts in the field, ESE lightning arresters bring innovation with their early streamer emission technology, offering a faster and more proactive approach to lightning protection.

Understanding the differences between these two types of lightning arresters allows stakeholders, including architects, engineers, and facility managers, to make informed decisions when implementing lightning protection systems. Whether safeguarding homes, high-rise buildings, factories, or expansive open spaces, the right choice of lightning arrester can make a significant difference in minimizing the risks associated with lightning strikes and ensuring the safety of structures and occupants alike.

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