Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Solar Panel Farms - Earthing

solar panel farm consists of a set of solar photovoltaic modules electrically connected and mounted on a supporting structure.

A photovoltaic module is a packaged, connected assembly of solar cells.
The solar panel can be used as a component of a larger photovoltaic system to generate and supply electricity in commercial and residential applications. Each module is rated by its DC output power under standard test conditions (STC), and typically ranges from 100 to 320 watts. The efficiency of a module determines the area of a module given the same rated output - an 8% efficient 230 watt module will have twice the area of a 16% efficient 230 watt module. A single solar module can produce only a limited amount of power; most installations contain multiple modules. A photovoltaic system typically includes a panel or an array of solar modules, an inverter, and sometimes a battery and/or solar tracker and interconnection wiring.

The installation of lightning protection to protect these ever growing popular types of alternative energy installations is essential, the first stage of which is to establish the soil resistivity that varies throughout the UK. Once the resistivity of the soil has been established the earthing designer designs a suitable earthing solution to ensure protection against the effects of lightning is achieved.

Churchill Specialist Contracting, working alongside the world's leading authority in lightning protection, Furse of Nottingham offer a complete turnkey solution from soil resistivity testing, to design, the supply of materials and
installation supported by an annual testing programme.

In addition to offering a complete turnkey solution Churchill can offer any one of the above referenced five stages of service with materials delivered next day anywhere in the UK.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Advances in Lightning Protection

In addition to having established ourselves as a respected and trusted specialist within the construction industry, Churchill Specialist Contracting is also accepted as a major force in the supply and delivery of Lightning Protection, Earthing and Height Safety equipment via our unique online eCommerce facility enabling both private and commercial customers alike to purchase a full range of equipment, quickly and conveniently from the comfort of their own home or office environment.

Working in partnership with the industry's most respected leading manufacturers and suppliers which, together with our own house technical expertise born from years of installation practices, means we are able to offer a customer service that is second to none for customers who purchase materials and equipment from us.

In attempt to offer as wide a range of services as possible, CSC Ltd is also able to offer a full range of ESE (early streamer emission) devices and accessories. Whilst it is common knowledge within our industry that ESE devices are not recognised by lightning protection British Standards past and present, it is accepted that in certain circumstances and to satisfy a particular clients requirements, ESE devices are considered an alternative to a traditional lightning protection system.

Since the advent of the latest Lightning Protection British Standard, BSEN 62305 first released in 2006 and revised recently in 2011, providing a lightning protection system is now a complex process.

One common misconception is that the provision of Surge Protection Devices are still optional as they were in the previous British Standard BS6651 which was fully withdrawn in 2008, or that the main distribution board is provided with a Surge Protection Device (SPD) so there is no further need for SPDs elsewhere.

Working with our suppliers we are able to dispel this myth and offer understandable and logical guidance on where SPDs should be considered and which type. In short any SPD must be rated according to the magnitude of the expected lightning discharge it is designed to resist in order to provide the protection of both personnel and the equipment alike. Some devices already built into distribution boards, by their manufacturers, may not satisfy this requirement.

In addition to the main incomer all services entering or leaving a building such as telephone lines, data cables, cctv systems, roof mounted equipment ect, should all be provided with a suitable SPD in order for compliance with BSEN62305 2011 and protected against the primary risk 'R1', identified by the code, "loss of human life".

Friday, 16 August 2013

Lightning Protection... What Lightning Protection?

Lightning protection is built into the majority of electrical specifications for new build projects, and for good reason. The primary risks identified by the latest British Standard, BSEN 62305 2011 are, “loss of human life” and “loss of service to the public”.

By its nature, in order for lightning protection to work effectively, conductors have to be readily accessible to receive a lightning discharge. After extensive design work at considerable expense by teams of Architects, the last thing anyone wants to see is an external lightning protection system surely?

Modern building practices and the vast range of lightning protection materials are such that this need not be of concern.

Provided they are correctly designed into a lightning protection system by an ATLAS accredited designer, the metallic roofing, architectural features, guttering, plant screens, etc together with the steel framework, or steel reinforcing bars within a concrete structure are all acceptable for use as part of the lightning protection system negating the need for extensive visual traditional conductors.

Even where external conductors are required, lightning protection has become so commonplace in today’s construction industry that they can be designed in at an early stage of the buildings conception. Indeed conductors are regularly built into cavities, behind render and decorative curtain walling. In addition, (where the demands of BSEN 62305 allow) conductors can be hidden by rain water pipes, installed below roofing tiles and beneath the surface of the increasingly popular ‘green’ and ‘brown’ eco-style roofs.

Where it is necessary for conductors to be visible there are a variety of different colours of pvc sheathing and clips available to try and mask their presence as much as possible.

The more complex the structure, the more nooks and crannies are available to hide traditional conductors. The more modern the structure, the more natural elements available in their construction which can be used as a substitute for traditional conductors.

Not forgetting the other ‘hidden’ major element of a correctly installed lightning protection system, in addition to structural protection, all services entering or leaving a structure and from any roof mounted equipment, must be provided with suitable surge protection devices (SPDs).

So go on, the next time you are out, try and spot a lightning protection system. If you can’t it doesn't necessarily mean it isn't there!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The importance of annual Test Inspection and Maintenance

The importance of lightning protection has been recognised in the UK since 1985 when the British Standard was completely revised and built into the majority of electrical specifications for all UK new build projects, and for good reason.

It is essential for the protection of our structures, their contents and the lives of its occupants. As such, annual maintenance is a vital part of any systems longevity, efficiency, and our safety, even more so since the advent of BSEN 62305 which was first published in 2006, revised in 2011.

Danger exists not only from a direct strike to a structure from a lightning discharge of up to 200KA, but indirect strikes can cause havoc to our internal electrical equipment and cost us thousands in unnecessary and avoidable loss of production and  insurance claims. 

Annual test, inspection and maintenance is often overlooked when a new build project is handed over to its client, but at what cost? 

•    Lightning Protection is fundamentally installed to reduce the risk of “loss of human life” and “loss of service to the public”.
•    Maintenance of the Lightning Protection System is often a requirement of the building insurances.
•    The electricity at work regulations 1989 states that “all systems shall be maintained so as to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, danger”.
•    The effectiveness of the Lightning Protection System may be reduced over time due to physical damage, corrosion, adverse weather conditions, or as a result of additions or alterations to the building under protection.

Churchill Specialist Contracting Ltd are a driving force in leading our industry in the correct implementation of BSEN 62305 2011 and are dedicated and resourced to offer a technical and professional service to our current and future customer base. In addition to our range of extensive services, we are dedicated to providing a Test Inspection and Maintenance program which can be tailored to a customer’s particular needs for what is a crucial part of any structures ongoing maintenance.

As a recognised and well respected NVQ provider to our industry, Churchill’s are able to provide NVQ Level 3 qualification for Lightning Protection Test and Inspection Engineers, which has been developed in conjunction with ATLAS, the Training Group and the CITB National Training College.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The dangers of designing an incorrect level of protection.

Since September 2008 the lightning protection industry has been working to BSEN62305. The main difference between this and the previous British Standard (BS6651) was the introduction of a complex risk analysis calculation to establish which of four levels of protection should be applied to a particular structure.  Levels, or Classes of protection, range from 1 to 4 and are dependent on a number of factors, the major contributor being the actual physical size of the structure to be protected. Level 1 is the most stringent through to level  4 being the least  in terms of the amount of protection actually required. This inevitably gives rise to price differences between the various levels at quotation stage.

All Churchill’s lightning protection designers hold an ATLAS (The Association of Technical Lightning and Access Specialists) certificate of accreditation to demonstrate design competence, and are trained in the use of industry specific software to carry out these risk analysis and the subsequent design.

Until our sector is fully up to speed with how to complete the new risk assessments the very real risk is that companies may either through lack of training, or perhaps even in an attempt to achieve commercial gain choose to endorse Lightning Protection designs and installations which are non-compliant with BSEN62305 by using the incorrect level of protection.

For example, a group of structures physically linked together have to be classed as one complete structure and would therefore warrant a greater level of protection (possibly level 1 or 2) at a greater cost implication than if they were completely isolated, where they may only warrant a level 4 for instance.

“Loss of human life” is the primary reason for providing protection in the first instance. The final level of protection based on the information available to the designer is therefore of critical importance for obvious reasons. The responsibility for which, as well as the financial risk to rectify any non- compliance, may well fall on the original contractor or indeed the client.

Something to be avoided at all costs.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

ESE Pulsar v Faraday Cage

As the increase in popularity of the ESE (Early Streamer Emission) Pulsar systems for providing lightning protection increases the UK lightning protection industry and building designers are increasingly faced with finally confronting the barriers traditionalists and stalwarts of the Faraday cage system often present when electing to reject ESE Pulsars.

For example English Heritage will not entertain the thought of an ESE Pulsar even though aesthetically the Pulsar can be installed discretely, represent a cost saving and indeed greatly reduce the effects associated with metal theft.

What are the reasons behind this reluctance to accept ESE Pulsars? First lets look at the authors and those who contribute to the writing of lightning protection standards here in the UK.

As with the writing of most standards it often falls upon those with product knowledge and industry experience to produce the content for a standard, often these individuals will still be in employment and therefore it could be argued have a vested interest in promoting a particular ethos, in this case the traditional proven faraday cage system.

It is a well known fact that the use of a correctly designed ESE Pulsar requires considerably less materials and can be installed in a fraction of the time compared to a Faraday cage installation therefore greatly reducing revenues.

Secondly a reluctance to promote ESE Pulsars has also centred around questions raised about the quality of some products, particularly from the far east with stories including nothing being found  inside a sealed Pulsar unit once opened up!! Concerns have also been raised in relation to the validity of testing undertaken to prove the performance of a Pulsar however with the recent acquisition of Helita by ABB all of the aforementioned has been put to bed.

ABB testing facility at Pic du Midi located at 2877m in the French Pyreenes provides state of the art testing and with each and every pulsar produced tested before being dispatched the ABB Helita Pulsar supported by the French national standard NF C 17-102. ChurchillSC Ltd have embraced the ESE Pulsar because like it or not the Pulsar is here to stay and offers a very viable cost effective solution for providing lightning protection

Monday, 11 March 2013

New Managing Director Appointed

Churchill Specialist Contracting Ltd is extremely pleased and proud to announce the appointment of Richard Rowson as the Managing Director of their lightning protection division.

A requirement to install a proven and respected industry achiever such as Richard to manage and direct Churchill’s rapidly increasing lightning protection division is considered by the owners to be not only a progressive step but also highly essential as part of the company’s growth strategy.

Churchill's CEO Wayne Murry has nothing but praise for Richard......" Richard Rowson is a highly respected proven performer in the lightning protection sector who prior to joining Churchill’s was the branch manager of the sectors largest and most successful business for the previous 12 years with over 23 years service in total. During his previous tenure Richard managed the growth of the Nottingham branch from a turnover of circa £1.5M to £4M and experienced at first hand growing pains companies at our stage undoubtedly encounter as they expand. It goes without saying that individuals of Richards’s stature do not become available every day so following our initial meeting things moved at a pace to secure Richards tenure. The directors of Churchill’s consider securing Richards appointment to be a huge compliment to the business and underlines how well respected Churchill's have become within the lightning protection sector in such a relativity short period"

Richard Rowson acknowledged his appointment by commenting "I consider my appointment as Managing Director of Churchill Specialist Contracting Lightning Protection division to be an honour and I am excited by the vision of the owners and highly impressed by how well structured and technologically advanced the business is.  I am looking forward to my new role and working with the owners and established Churchill team to continue with the structured and controlled growth of the division calling on my experience of having previously experienced a very similar position in my previous role. Having held discussions with the owners of Churchill’s it is very clear to me that there is no big fix required however I am confident that my experience will assist the division in continuing to move forward and assist the business in opening new markets"

In recognition of his achievements within Churchill’s lightning protection division Mark Hancock has been appointed a company director, in the role of Lightning Protection Operations Director Mark’s appointment will also add synergy to the business mirroring a role already established in the steeplejack/specialist access division.

Wayne Murry will continue in the business as CEO concentrating with the development and management in the areas of the business including steeplejacking, specialist access and training together with the rapidly increasing ecommerce venture that has recently seen ABB and Cleveland Cable add product ranges.