HAVE YOU EVER noticed your lights blink during a thunderstorm? Or perhaps you’ve had to reset the microwave clock after a storm. When this happens, you’ve likely experienced a brief disruption to your electric service, which could result from a power surge or blink. While the symptoms of surges and blinks can appear similar, what’s happening behind the scenes is quite different.
What’s a power surge?
Power surges are brief shift in voltage that can damage, degrade or destroy electronic equipment within your home or business. Most electronics are designed to handle small shifts in voltage; however, power surges that reach tens of thousands of volts can be extremely damaging.
Surges can be caused by internal sources, like HVAC systems with variable frequency drives, or external sources, like lightning and damage to power lines and transformers.
“We encourage our members to install surge devices such as surge protector power strips to safeguard their sensitive electronics,” says Bow Burch, Member Services Manager at Lynches River. “If you’re experiencing frequent surges in your home or business and you believe the cause is internal, contact a qualified electrician to inspect your electrical system.”
What’s a power blink?
Power blinks are also brief service interruptions, but they’re typically caused by a fault (short circuit) on a power line or a protective device that’s working in reaction to the fault. Faults can occur in a variety of ways, such as squirrels, birds, snakes or other small animals contacting an energized power line; tree branches touching a power line; or lightning and other similar events. In fact, when it comes to power disruptions caused by critters, squirrels reign supreme. In 2019 alone, squirrels were responsible for more than 1,200 outages across the country.
Any of the events noted above can cause your power to blink, but you may also experience a brief interruption when protective devices that act like circuit breakers are working to detect the fault.
“Believe it or not, these brief power blinks caused by protective devices are actually good,” says Carlton Reeves, one of LREC’s system engineers. “It means the equipment is working and it is preventing a prolonged outage.”
Regardless of the cause, Lynches River crews will be on their way to inspect the damage and make necessary repairs after a power outage. If you experience repeated disruptions to your electric service, please let us know by calling 866-675-5732.