PABX Lightning Damage, Power Surge and Insurance Claims


The Southern African region has a high number of inclement weather events throughout the year, this is often accompanied with variable power quality which can place a lot of pressure on PABX IT equipment. To ensure the life of your PBX equipment is extended as far as possible, we recommend a few tips below on how to protect your PABX switchboard from lightning and/or electrical power surges, and in the event of a damaged PABX telephone system, we give you advice on how to proceed with a replacement or repair.

The summer rainfall region (October to March) in South Africa experiences more than 60 thunderstorm days per year with the Highveld region and eastern escarpment having amongst the highest lightning strikes per square km per annum in the world, with annual averages of between 10 and 15 strikes every km2.

Statistics show 80% of damages on electronic equipment are directly or indirectly related to lightning and overvoltage surges whilst the majority of damages are caused due to indirect lightning strikes nearby.

The below image is a Ground Flash Density Map of South Africa which represents the number of lightning flashes per square kilometre per annum.

Ground Flash Density Map of South Africa


How Does Lightning Damage PABX Systems?

PABX telephone systems by their design, are extremely vulnerable to inclement weather, the large amount of copper, their wide geographic spread in most buildings and IP cabling feeding into each unit mean that PABX systems are some of the most commonly damaged pieces of IT equipment in a lightning strike or electrical power surge, any electrical surge presents a serious risk to the system but there are ways to alleviate these risks which will not only avoid the huge costs of replacing the damaged PBX equipment, but will also ensure you evade other events that can be costly such as system downtime, loss of data, employee and client inconvenience as well as loss of phone and fax.

Your PABX is susceptible to damage by both direct lightning that strikes your building as well as indirect lightning that can strike many kilometres away. Indirect lightning causes a sudden increase in voltage surges that travel on power and copper telephone lines into your IT equipment. Although damage to your PBX equipment doesn’t always present itself immediately, components of your PABX equipment may still operate for a few months and then eventually fail.

To minimize the risk of this happening, United Telecoms installs all of our PBX switchboard systems with pre-certified surge protectors and UPS systems. If your system has been installed without surge protection you are at greater vulnerability to power surges related to lightning and power spikes be they natural or through the electricity provider.

What to Do in the Event of Your PABX System Not Working?

Contact us and request a site survey. These can be quoted on an hourly charge rate, we will dispatch a certified technician to survey and assess your system. Thereafter we will recommend the best course of action, typically systems can be repaired, or damaged parts replaced to render a system operable again however in the event that your system is not salvageable we supply a signed assessment which you may present to your insurance company in an insurance claim.

Advice on How to Protect Your System

As PABX switchboard systems are highly susceptible to lightning and power surge damage it is recommended that you implement some best practices in the protection of your equipment.

These include:

  • Surge protection on the mains feeding into the PBX units;
  • Any external cable is carefully protected from the elements with electrical insulation;
  • To avoid incoming power surges from traditional telephone lines, migrate your main telephone lines from traditional copper analogue to new generation United Voice VoIP.

Finally, for those looking to upgrade to the latest technology and alleviate the need for on-premise PABX systems, consider a Hosted PBX telephone system. As hosted PABX systems are situated offsite in secure data centres, they are near immune to localised lightning and power surges which effect on-premise solutions.

United Telecoms has supplied South African businesses for over 34 years with expert PABX Telephone System service and support. Over this time we have seen to hundreds of damaged and destroyed PBX systems. In the event of a local lightning strike or electrical surge we are ready to assist your business in getting this critical piece of IT telephony infrastructure up and running as rapidly as possible. From our network of service branches located throughout South Africa, we support, service and supply PanasonicSamsung and NEC PBX telephone switchboards.

For more information on this or any of our abovementioned services please contact us on 086 001 8101 or


Got questions? Contact our experts today.

South Africa Map Outline

We service the following locations in South Africa

Western Cape: Cape Town, Belville, Paarl, Stellenbosch, Somerset West, Vredendal, Hout Bay, Green Point, Bloubergstrand, Durbanville, Melkbosstrand.
Eastern Cape: Port Elizabeth, Knysna, East London, George.
Kwa-Zulu Natal: Durban, Pinetown, Ladysmith, Newcastle, Ballito, Port Shepstone, Pietermaritzburg, Umhlanga, Westville, Hillcrest, Amanzimtoti.
Gauteng: Johannesburg, Vereeniging/Vaal, Sandton, Midrand, Pretoria, Centurion, Randburg, Roodepoort, Germiston, Alberton, Edenvale, Menlo Park.
Free State: Bloemfontein, Welkom, Bethlehem.
Mpumalanga: Witbank, Nelspruit.
Northern Cape: De Aar, Kimberley, Repra (Upington Area).
North West: Klerksdorp, Mafikeng.
Limpopo: Phalaborwa, Polokwane/Pietersburg.
Outside South Africa: Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Namibia, Mozambique.

What Our Customers Say

“Once we approved the installations we were kept up to date daily with the levels of progress on our various sites and were very impressed with the final installation”

Spear Properties


Get In Touch

Head Office

19 Trinity Close
Cambridge Commercial Park

Tel: 086 001 8500


6 Edison Way
Century City
Cape Town

Tel: 086 001 8500


12 Sookhai Place
Derby Downs Office Park

Tel: 086 001 8500


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