What Exactly is a Brownout?

brownouts

Every summer, you hear the term “brownout” thrown around when it gets too hot out. You’ve heard of blackouts, but are brownouts something similar or different?

Definition
A brief interruption of power service where the electric power is either reduced or restricted.

How it Compares
Since a brownout only sees a reduction in power, all power is not lost. There is a low-level supply of electric power still available to most, unlike a blackout where all power is cut for everyone in a specific vicinity. A brownout is also considered to be the opposite of a power surge since it is a sudden reduction of power rather than a sudden spike.

Causes
The most common cause of a brownout is when the electrical grid becomes overloaded with requests for power. During the summer, many people stay inside and run their air conditioners for extended periods time. In addition, they will also be inside using their everyday electronics and appliances. Sometimes the utilities will sense that a blackout will occur so they will intentionally reduce the power to prevent one. This will allow for reserves of power to begin building up once again.

When it Happens
When a brownout occurs it can be just as dangerous to your electronics and appliances as a power surge can be. When these pieces of technology receive too little or too much power, damage to them can occur. Turn off all power strips and begin unplugging all electronics and appliances, not in use. This is also a good way to see if the brownout is affecting your city, or if you’re just using too much power in your own home.

Knowing what a brownout is can help you protect your home when one does occur. If your home’s electrical system is damaged during a brownout, blackout, or power surge, contact the pros at Lancaster Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment, give us a call at (717) 207-8198.

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