Lightning and Antennas

This page collects some information (ever growing) on lightning, lightning protection, particularly with reference to amateur radio antenna installations. General lightning info on my other pages.

Ufer Grounds

Named for Mr. Ufer. I've finally found the reference to the original paper, but haven't got a copy yet. The new term: concrete encased grounding electrodes.

IEEE CP 61-978 (Conference Paper), Herbert G. Ufer

Charles Early( at Goddard Spaceflight Cener tracked it down at

>Unif title Conference paper (American Institute of Electrical Engineers).
>Title Conference paper.
> Publisher New York : The Institute,
> Notes Description based on: CP 55-245 issued on Dec. 9 1954.
> Title from cover. > Numbering begins each year with no. 1.
> Add author American Institute of Electrical Engineers.
> Add title [IEEE papers] > ISSN 0401-8869
> Holdings > Location Collection Call No. Copy Status Due date Barcode
> Linda Hall Library - Closed Stacks Meeting Papers - LHL 001
> IEEE Checked in 3369000455174 >



And a new update (21 June 2006) found at

For more detailed information on studies relating to concrete-encased electrodes see:

1970 IEEE Vol. IGA-6, No. 4 July/August by Eugene J. Fagan and Ralph E. Lee

and the

"Investigation of footing-type grounding electrodes for electrical installations" by *Herbert G. Ufer (IEEE Trans. Power Apparatus and Systems, Vol. 83 p. 1042-1048 October 1964).


Lightning Protection

David Robbins (K1TTT) provided a short bibliography on lightning to the "TowerTalk mailing list", which I repeat with his permission, here. I've found some links to the referenced papers and have added them.

Sorry i don't have time right now to get lots of details, but here are some references that anyone working in the lightning protection industry should be familiar with.

CIGRE "Guide to procedures for estimating the lightning performance of transmission lines" oct 1991

Para 4.3: Ra=14H^.6 (as the tower gets higher the average attractive radius of strokes to the tower increases)

IEEE P1243 "Guide for improvind the lightning performance of transmission lines"

Para 4.3: Ns=Ng(28h^.6+b)/10 "More flashes are collected by the taller structure"

the reference this comes from is: A.J.Eriksson 'the incidence of lightning strikes to power lines' IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery Vol 2 July 1987, pp 859-870

As far as the claims on porcupines or spider balls...

Abdul M. Mousa, “The Applicability of Lightning Elimination Devices to Substations and Power Lines,” IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery, Vol. 13, No. 4, Oct. 1998m pp. 1120-1127.

Paper was peer-reviewed by six reviewers under threat of lawsuits. Paper states that these devices do not work as the manufacturers claim.

[JL: There are tons of online links to copies of this paper: google for Mousa and Lightning. However, since it's copyrighted by IEEE, and it's not clear that those other posters have gotten permission to post it, I'm not going to give you a direct link. ]

1997 Report on Dissipation Arrays, funded by FAA, Naval Research Labs, NASA, and USAF

The report, 274 pp., compiled by 17 scientists and engineers from around the world, provides no definitive physical or theoretical evidence that lightning dissipation arrays prevent lightning. The USAF presented photos showing the arrays being hit by lightning.


More info:

"Scientists Oppose Early Streamer Air Terminals", A paper by Abdul Mousa, posted on the referenced site with his permission:

"Charge Transfer System is Wishful Thinking, Not Science" from Charles Moore, at the Langmuir Lab in New Mexico. Includes the following statement: "It is now well established that surface conditions have little to do with the initiation of cloud-to-ground lightning discharges, high in thunderclouds."

William Rison has a nice paper that covers all this. "There Is No Magic To Lightning Protection: Charge Transfer Systems Do Not Prevent Lightning Strikes "

And finally, a paper by Uman and Rakov (who have forgotten more about lightning than any reader of this page probably knows) in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Dec 2002 issue: "A Critical Review of Nonconventional Approaches to Lightning Protection"

A couple nice writeups from the International Association of Electrical Inspectors



And still more info

Thanks to davep of the Tesla Coil Mailing List (, who found this on another list. It appears to originate with Abdul Mousa.

[1] Fagan, E.J. and Lee, R.H. (July/August 1970). The Use of Concrete-encased Reinforcing Rods as Grounding Electrodes", IEEE Trans. on Industry and General Applications, Vol. IGA-6, No. 4, pp. 337-348.

[2] Harding, G. and Harris C.A. (1970). Some Engineering Objections to Using Reinforcing Steel as Grounding Electrodes", IEEE IGA Conference Proceedings, pp. 181-187. Discussion by Lee, R.H.

[3] Kawai, M. (1965). "Studies of Tower Footing Resistance on Transmission Lines", IEEE Conference Paper No. 31 CP 65-704.

[4] Niles, G.B. (1978). "Using Transmission Foundation Resistance for Grounding Purposes and in Determining an Effective Earth Resistivity", IEEE Trans. on Power Apparatus and Systems, Paper No. A 78 126-5, 6 pp.

[5] Preminger, Julius. (Nov./Dec. 1975). "Evaluation of Concrete-encased Electrodes", IEEE Trans. on Industry Applications, Vol. IA-11, No. 6, pp. 664-668.

[6] Saraoja, E.K. (1977). "Lightning Earths", Chapter 18 (22 pp.) of Golde, R.H. (Editor), Lightning, Vol. 2, Academic Press, London, Britain.

[7] Thaper, B., Gerez, V., Balakrishnan, A. and Blank, D.A. (April 1990). "Ground Resistance of Concrete Encased Electrodes - Field Tests", American Power Conference, pp. 421-425.

[8] Thaper, B., Ferrer, O., and Blank, D.A. (April 1990). "Ground Resistance of Concrete Foundations in Substation Yards", IEEE Trans. on Power Delivery, Vol. PWRD-5, No. 1, pp. 130-136.

[9] Ufer, H.G. (October 1964). "Investigation and Testing of Footing-type Grounding Electrodes for Electrical Installations", IEEE Trans., pp. 1042-1048.

[10] Vainer, A.L. (1970). "Current Off-flow from Reinforced Concrete Footings in Poor Conducting Ground", Electric Technology USSR, No. 4, pp. 96-106.

[11] Vorgucic, A. (1983). "Electrical Resistivity of Concrete in the Foundation Earth", Proceedings Lightning and Static Electricity Conference, Fort Worth, Texas, Paper No. 30-1.

[12] Wiener, P. (1970). "A Comparison of Concrete Encased Grounding Electrode to Driven Ground Rods", IEEE Trans. on Industry and General Applications, Vol. IGA-6, No. 3, pp. 282-287.

Regardless of soil type, i.e. whether involving concrete or not, a major effect of lightning current arises from its high amplitude. This leads to breakdown and ionization phenomena within the ground. This subject is covered in two of my papers:

[13] Mousa, A.M. (October 1992). "Breakdown Gradient of the Soil Under Lightning Discharge Conditions", Proceedings of International Aerospace and Ground Conference on Lightning and Static Electricity, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA, paper No. 67, 12 pp.

[14] Mousa, A.M. (1994). "The Soil Ionization Gradient Associated with Discharge of High Currents into Concentrated Electrodes", IEEE Trans. on Power Delivery, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 1669-1677.


lightning.htm - 1 Feb 2006 - Copyright Jim Lux
(minor updates in formatting, original page 6 Dec 1994)

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