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Energy CostsIN CHARLOTTEJune 28, 2022by AndrewWhat is a “Brownout”?

A brownout is a drop in voltage in an electric grid. It may be intentional or not. Brownouts happen, usually, when there is heavy demand, a span with a heavy load or during severe weather.  Electric service providers will lower the quantity of power supplied per home in order to avoid a full power outage. As a result, homes may have to operate on less power than usual.

Most of us know what a power outage is like. There is no electricity, and it may be for a long period of time. There are a lot of reasons or causes for a power outage. Almost everyone can recognize what is happening, and we should be prepared and know what’s best to do. However, what takes place in a brownout? Many people do not know what a brownout is, let alone what to do during a brownout to keep your family safe and devices protected.

Common Causes of Brownouts

  • Thunderstorms may cause a disturbance with the electric power distribution.
  • Overloads on an electric system.
  • A failed electric system, such as a failed circuit layout, like a failed circuit breaker, poor main terminals or malfunctioning wires.

Signs of a Brownout

The first indicator of a brownout is flickering lights. Since light bulbs rely on voltage, the drop in available electrical energy will change the illumination of lights. As a matter of fact, the term brownout came from the brown, dark color lights send out during a brownout. Other indications of a brownout may be fast, uncontrolled switching on and off by home appliances or an interrupted, on and off, internet connection.

When you are going through a brownout, the most effective plan most of the time is simply wait it out. In most situations the power supplier purposefully caused this brownout and they know the situation, so calling your service provider is not required. If the brownout lasts for longer than a few hours, it is important to call your service provider to inform the company and learn more yourself.

What to Do with Devices

A brownout could simply look like a necessary hassle, but there is actual danger from brownouts for your electronic and digital devices. The lowered and changing levels of power can ruin devices and appliances, specifically computer systems and TVs. When power levels change considerably, specific devices are unable to manage the spike or fall and might fail. A computer, for example, cannot manage the amount of power it obtains. It may be fried or badly malfunction when power decreases then suddenly increases without management or control.

Brownouts can last anywhere from seconds to hours, so it is always best to be prepared. The most effective way to shorten the length of a brownout is to lower your intake of power. Deliberate brownouts take place when power demand is high, so the best means to stop the brownout is to minimize power intake, therefore decreasing the demand for power. Below are some pointers for a brownout, so you are prepared the next time your power is low or out.

Unplug Devices

It is important when the lights begin to flicker you should unplug your devices. You should unplug or disconnect televisions, computer systems, printers, phones that are charging, and any other connected devices. This will certainly your devices and systems from the surge of power after the brownout, and this will lower the amount of power you are using, which will reduce the size and time of the brownout.

Use Power Strips

Power strips and surge protectors might help limit or stop the power spike during or after a brownout. This will protect your gadgets when the power comes on again or if power during a brownout is unpredictable.

A Whole-Home Surge Protector

Surge protectors are the best defense against brownouts. A whole-home surge protector will secure your whole home from a power surge after a brownout. If you are out of the house when there’s a brownout, you don’t have to worry about devices or appliances being fried or damaged.

Turn Off Devices During a Brownout

If you can’t unplug or disconnect everything before a brownout, turn off as many devices or appliances as possible before or shortly after a brownout starts. Think of lights, washing machines, dryers, microwaves, ovens, TVs, phones unplug as many devices as you safely can. Decrease the power usage in the home to reduce the length of the brownout.

Be Prepared for an Outage

Although a brownout is usually not as problematic as a power outage, it is feasible a brownout can develop into a blackout. Always keep your house equipped with flashlights, batteries and non-perishable food in case of a long power failure. If the power goes out entirely, report the blackout to your electric company.

More on Getting Through a Brownout

If it’s a larger electrical problem – as in across a neighborhood, town or region – there’s nothing that can be done by one household about the brownout. However, if it’s limited to your house, the best way to avoid a brownout is by decreasing the power you’re using. This does not mean turning everything off and living in darkness, however it does mean cutting down. In the early mornings, instead of turning on every single light in your home, plus the coffee maker, iron and 10 more appliances, maybe turn on about half the lights and only the appliances you need right away. If you find yourself in the midst of a brownout, make certain all your major power using appliances are off. This can shorten the brownout. When the brownout is over, you can return to using your appliances.



Your best bet? Hire an expert to do the job. South End Electric has the background and understanding to ensure a safe and smooth installation. We can provide electrical safety inspections and installation, inspections and work with GFCI outlets. In addition, our professionals provide whole-house generator sales and installation to meet your needs. See everything South End Electric can do for you. Call us direct at 704-368-4694.