5 essential facts to consider when choosing your lightning detection network

In case you are planning for a new lightning detection network: There are major differentiators between technologies but also more hidden details that affect both quality and overall costs.

This article is meant to supply you with the five most relevant aspects we’ ve learned to keep an eye on in many professional lightning detection projects around the globe. Lightning is a complex weather phenomenon. When it comes to professional lightning detection, it’ s important to differ between scientific research needs and regular commercial use-cases like protection measures, weather reports or insurance claim handling. The good news: A great large-area network can be installed at a reasonable price! The challenge: Looks can be deceiving when marketing jargon comes into play.

We did our best to bring it down to #5 essentials, that give you a good overall guidance.

Let’ s get started:

#1 Excellent hardware quality as a starting point


In order to capture accurate and reliable lightning data, sensitive, precise and rugged hardware is the starting point. Excellent hardware may have its price, but by using smart methods and clever technology one can avoid complexity. Therefor, at nowcast we found a great way to rely on VLF-technology only – precisely engineered and manufactured in Germany, based on up-to-date science. Without the need for poor quality direction finding or very expensive and more delicate VHF-tech.

#2 Proven Localization Accuracy (LA)

A most important and also delicate aspect: How close does the detected stroke-location come to the true hit-point of a stroke? One’ s for sure: Everyone will tell you about high LA. We simply recommend to ask for real proof as well as customer references.

Location Accuracy of lightning strokes by nowcast

Charts show detected strokes by nowcast that demonstrably hit towers (center of grids). Nearly all detected trokes have a deviation from the true hit-point of less than 100 m)

#3 Detection Efficiency (DE) in kA and not as a percentage

Detection Efficiency is tricky. You will probably come across percentage-values when checking the capabilities of a system. Why is that misleading? Because no one knows the true number of all strokes (especially intra-cloud strokes). Consequently, a percentage-value (bases on the 100 % that no one knows) makes just no sense, but looks nice in marketing does it? At nowcast we prefer to deal with facts. Therefore, we give you the DE in kA, meaning we tell you how far down (in terms of electric current of a stroke) our system is able to detect. This way you are fully aware of what you can expect and what the weakest strokes detected will be. This allows a reliable and meaningful assessment.

Detection Efficiency for lightning strokes in kA

Chart indicates the amount of detected strokes of a lightning event per kA by nowcasts LINET technology.

Important feature: At nowcast, we do not only detect and discriminate IC-strokes (Intra-Cloud) from CG-strokes (Cloud-to-Ground), we also deliver the emission-height of IC without VHF-technology.

3D-detection of IC-strokes with nowcast’s patented algorithm.

#4 Long-term experience in different climate zones, topography and infrastructure situations

Lightning poses a particular danger to people as well as many industries. Reliable and continuous operation of the detection technology is key to its value. Thus, sensitive outdoor technology must stay alive in nearly every climate, surrounding and infrastructural circumstances. Nowcast has a proven track record of long-lasting customer satisfaction in very different places of the globe (e.g. Colombia, Nepal, Malaysia, Africa, Kazakhstan, …). nowcast’s LINET sensors are able to withstand also harsh conditions without compromise on detection quality. Only very few and simple requirements need to be fulfilled to make the sensors run and deliver.

#5 Flexibility: Find a true partner rather than just a vendor. Someone who understands your business needs and offers different models

Different customers, different needs. Not always complete ownership is the best solution, but sometimes it is or it just is a requirement that needs to be fulfilled. Nowcast basically offers all different types of models. Let’ s check together what model fits best for your specific project.


Although there might be a lot more other aspects that are indeed relevant to a lightning detection network, we figure theses five ones have “the major impact on your long-term satisfaction”. nowcast is fully focused on lightning detection and  has been operating passionately in this field for over two decades. We serve numerous public institutions as well as private companies around the world with our ultra-precise hardware, software and project development services, leading to “simply the best” in lightning detection.

Get in touch with us now to learn more.