When growing up in a rural community, I quickly became familiar with the concept of a brownout just due to not having great electrical systems out on the farms and tiny towns in Iowa. So let’s walk through some of the basics about brownouts and their causes:
- A brownout or sag is a drop in voltage in an electrical power supply. The term brownout comes from the dimming experienced by lighting when the voltage sags.
- A reduction or cutback in electric power, especially as a result of a shortage, a mechanical failure, or overuse by consumers.
- Difference in Blackout and Brownout is interesting to me, so thought I’d pass it on. A blackout – is a total loss of power due to the power supply being interrupted. On the other hand a brownout (as mentioned above) is a drop in voltage in an electrical power supply.
- An overload of the electrical system may cause a drop in voltage or a brownout.
- It can also occur when events such as storms disrupt the distribution grid, or when there are other problems in the system.
- Often a brownout is deliberate which is called a voltage reduction. Voltage reductions are undertaken when utilities sense that a disruption in the grid may lead to serious problems. Rather than instituting rolling blackouts, the utility may temporarily cut voltage to some customers in an attempt to stabilize the grid and to allow reserves of power to accumulate again. (www.wisegeek.com)
- Caution to each of us, is the fact that it is best to turn off appliances, like computers, as the reduction in power supply can do damage. Leave at least one light burning, so you will know when the brownout has been resolved.
- Be sure also, should you experience a brownout that it is not only your home affected but neighbors as well. Otherwise, you may have overloaded your circuit breaker and the brownout is just affecting your home.
- Rolling blackouts are deliberate power cuts which are designed to reduce the load on an electricity generation system and grid. They usually result from a situation where demand outstrips supply, but they can also be caused by power production problems, fuel shortages, and antiquated systems.
- There are wide ranges of causes for brownouts. Just like blackouts, overloads on the electrical system can trigger a brownout, as the generating facility is unable to provide enough power. It can also occur when events such as storms disrupt the distribution grid, or when there are other problems in the system. Brownouts can last for a few seconds or a few hours, depending on the type of brownout and how quickly a power utility can get full power running again.
If I remember correctly, there was something recently on the news that mentioned the possibility of brownouts this Summer, after reading this we can all understand a bit better why those might occur.