What Is A Brownout And What To Do During One

We’ve all experienced it before. You’re sitting in your home when all of a sudden your lights and electrical appliances begin to flicker on and off. “Are we about to lose power?” You wonder to yourself. If this sounds familiar, then you’ve most likely been through a brownout.


What is a Brownout and How to Identify One:

A brownout is a drop in voltage to an electrical system. These occurrences are a step down from a blackout in the sense that the home still has power, just a lesser amount. They can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.


During a brownout the house often experiences lights flickering while also becoming dimmer and brown toned, hence the name. Devices will also begin to fluctuate in power while internet connection drops in and out.


Although brownouts still allow the home to have power, they can be far more dangerous for electronic appliances than a blackout. Due to the fluctuations in power, certain devices such as computers, televisions, and others are not able to handle the sudden and rapid change in electricity. Reduced levels of current can cause the devices to shut off, malfunction or become permanently damaged.


How Do They Occur

Brownouts occur from two different main sources; Internal or inside the home and external or outside the home. External occurs when there is high electrical usage or severe weather. For example on hotter summer days when there are several air conditioning units blasting in your neighborhood, the power grids can experience an overload. Another possibility includes failure at a local power plant. As far as interior means, the main causes are plugging in too many appliances to one circuit, faulty wiring for larger home appliances (such as a refrigerator or air conditioning unit), or dysfunctional electrical wiring throughout the house.


How to Protect Your Home and Electronic Devices During a Brownout


There are several steps that can be taken to protect your home and electronic devices from damage during a brownout. The first step is to unplug all your devices while it is occurring. This will prevent them from experiencing the inconsistent flow of electrical currents. Another option is to reduce power consumption as much as possible, being that the overuse of power could be the cause of the brownout. While taking these steps, you should also prepare for the possibility of a full blackout and take whatever measurements needed.

Some preventative steps that could be taken to protect your devices before and after the brownout include installing a power strip. The power strip can protect your device from the currents that surge after the brownout as ended. Another alternative is to get a whole-home surge protector installed. A surge protector detects any excess currents running through your home and diverts them through a grounding path.


The last preventative measures that could be taken is to get an annual electrical walk through. This step is meant to ensure that your property and loved ones are safe by detecting proper wiring and updated electrical systems are in place to avoid possible surges. Our electricians at Electrical Plus specialize in these walkthroughs to inspect and detect any faults that could put you, your loved ones, or appliances in danger during an event such as brownout. Click HERE to schedule your walk through today!

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