A brownout occurs when the power grid does not have enough power to meet demands. A dip in voltage that lasts anywhere from seconds to hours causes lights to dim. This is where the term brownout comes from. Power blackouts are a complete loss of power, usually because of severe weather or equipment failure.
Brownouts may be created on purpose by the power authority. When homes and businesses require more electricity than is currently available, the power grid is overwhelmed. By reducing the amount of electricity reaching homes, the power company is reducing the likelihood that the higher demand for electricity will cause a complete blackout.
What is a power brownout?
A power brownout occurs when there is a dip in voltage throughout the electrical grid. This can be due to an overloaded grid or affected equipment between you and the power supply. Power companies may also create a brownout on purpose to prevent a worse brownout or blackout.
Brownouts end when there is enough power available to serve the current demand. This can take just seconds or hours.
When your home or business experiences a brownout, your lights and heating are likely unaffected. More sensitive equipment like phone systems, computers and machinery can be negatively impacted by the drop in power supply.
To help your power grid readjust to normal and shorten the length of the brownout, as well as the likelihood of another occurring, reduce your power usage. You can do this by turning off nonessential items.
What is a blackout?
When there is no power supply to a home or business, it is called a blackout. Blackouts generally happen when severe weather damages power lines and poles. A blackout can also occur when equipment fails for another reason.
Blackouts generally last longer than brownouts because they are the result of damaged equipment. It can take days or even weeks for a power company to restore your power. In this case, you should turn to a backup generator to power your essential equipment.