Are there lightning protection blocks for data circuits?

We need to connect several buildings that are within a couple of hundred feet max. We could save money by purchasing one 24-port switch and providing service from the first building, however we need to include lightning protection for the copper runs between buildings if we go that way. Are there lightning protection blocks for data circuits? I know our telecomm shop uses them for phone and radio, but I have not seen one for data.
BICSI's TDMM and also ANSI/NFPA section 780 both have sections covering lightning protection systems. Generally, these systems include a grounded metallic conductor installed for just that purpose. You will want to check with your AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) to determine if your exterior runs must be installed in conduit or what routing methods will be acceptable. Unfortunately, different situations have different implementations based on distance, ability to route within other pathways, need to run inside conduit, how to ground it, etc. Generally these cables are run in some type of pathway whether it be conduit or other approved pathway, not shared with electrical services.

A lot of companies are opting for copper in the backbone due to the lower costs for electronics. I STRONGLY suggest that you use the best cabling/connectivity available for all backbone runs. It will certainly save headaches down the road. I would also suggest that you run ample channels to cover expansion, as it is less expensive to run them with the others than it is to add them later, and you can be sure that your conduit is of sufficient size so that it is not over-filled and you won't have to replace it later. If you need more information, please feel free to respond back with particulars.

This was last published in February 2004

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