Lightning detectors are the instrument that can detect lightning. Lightening detectors are a commonly used device and there are many different models available in the market. All the models that are available in the market can be categorized into ground-based, mobile and space based system. The three categories work on different technologies and hence have different application. The ground and mobile based detectors work on radio direction finding techniques whereas the space based detectors work on direction observation techniques. The weather station, building, and installations that are sensitive to lightning, aviation, etc. are some of the applications of lightening detectors.
Different models of lightening detectors have different limitations and hence, they cannot be used interchangeably. Below we have listed some of the limitations that these devices have. Ground-based lightening detectors work on triangulation principle and hence they must detect light between their three antennas. Failure to catch a lightening between the three antennas may leave a lightening undetected. The mobile detectors use attenuation technology and hence they often mistakenly indicate weak lightening as strong ones. The problem with space-based detectors is somewhat different from the other two. The information that is received from space-based detectors is always few minutes old and hence may not be of any use. Lightening detectors and weather radars both complement each other in weather forecasting. Lightening detectors work by detecting electrical activity whereas the weather radars work by measuring precipitation.
Lightening detectors are being used widely for detecting lightening. They find their usage in diverse applications. Let us analyze some of them. Lightening detectors find their biggest use in the aviation industry. Large airliners use them to predict weather or chances of lightening on their flight plan. Lightening can be dangerous for an airline and hence they use lightening detectors to avoid the, If a lightening detector detects lightening or chances of lightening then it changes its flight path.
Personal lightening detectors are battery operated ground-based devices which are used by house owners to predict lightening. They are also used by campers, golfers and law enforcement agencies. SkyScan USA is a very famous brand of lightening detector that is used across the United States.
Weather forecasting is, of course, the single largest user of lightening detectors. US department of weather forecasting has more than 7000 lightening detectors installed in all sensitive locations which are susceptible to lightening thunderstorms. It is the process of installing many more.