Remote Mounted CCTV
Lightning Protection Information
Remote pole or wall-mounted closed circuit television cameras have special protection requirements.
Remote Mounted CCTV Cameras - Prime Targets for Lightning
Outdoor Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) Security Cameras can be prime targets for lightning. A lightning
strike can destroy the camera and can damage the control console with energy flowing back through the coax
and camera power wiring.
When lightning strikes a tower or other large structure, there is a high peak voltage at the strike point flowing
outward and downward through any path it to earth ground. A support pole develops a high L di/dt peak voltage
drop along its length to earth ground. A large steel reinforced structure can conduct the energy to earth ground
through its steel reinforced concrete footers and electrical ground system. A camera mounted and grounded to
a building with steel reinforced construction will usually have less inductance to ground than a camera mounted
on a self-supported tower or pole. Less inductance to earth ground means less peak voltage at the camera.
When lightning strikes a wood or other insulating support, whatever voltage is necessary to continue the arc is
developed at the strike point to overcome the resistance of the non-conducting structure. This usually has
Although very different, identical conditions exist for both examples. A high peak voltage occurs at the strike
point with reference to earth ground. The video and power wiring to the camera are insulated from the strike
point by electrical circuitry in the camera and the external covering around the wire. The energy will flow
through the camera in an attempt to equalize the wiring with the instantaneous peak voltage occurring at the
To protect your equipment, you must provide a low inductance path to earth for lightning energy and install
properly rated protectors on all interconnected wiring from the camera to the operating console. A properly
rated protector at the camera allows the wiring to be equalized to the peak voltage at the strike point without
allowing damaging currents flowing through the camera circuitry. An appropriate protector at the console blocks
damaging incoming voltages from the camera wiring.
A camera mounted on a building should be grounded to the building’ s structural steel as near the camera as
possible. (Use 1-1/2 inch copper strap for grounding.) If the camera is mounted on a metal pole, it should be
grounded to the pole and a proper ground system installed at the base. When mounted on a wood or other
insulating support, the camera should be grounded to a 3 inch copper strap running from the camera mount to
a proper ground system installed at the base. An additional 3 inch copper strap would run from a lightning rod
or diverter to the ground system at the base. Separate the two straps on opposite sides of the pole and connect
together only below grade. Side mounting the camera or providing a diverter above the camera provides some
additional protection from a direct strike.
A lightning ground system would be capable of dispersing large amounts of lightning energy (usually electrons)
into the earth very quickly. The faster it disperses electrons, the less time there is for damaging surges to flow
in the coax and power wiring back toward your operating console.