The Difference Between a Blackout and a Brownout

Our electrical utility companies do their best to make sure that there is enough power to meet demand, and that everything is in good working order, but sometimes severe weather or other uncontrollable events occur. This can cause an interruption and result in either a blackout or brownout.

A brownout is essentially a drop in the voltage of an electrical power supply system. Typically, they are caused by a high demand of electricity that is close to or above production capacity. In the summer months, this can be due to a storm or excess power consumption to run things like the AC. Usually, brownouts are performed intentionally by the utility companies, but they can occur unintentionally as well. When performed intentionally, they act as an emergency preventative measure that decreases system voltage by 10–25% causing lights to dim in order to prevent a complete system failure.

This complete system failure is also known as a blackout, and occurs when there is a complete interruption of power in a given area. Sometimes, in order to prevent a complete blackout a utility company will perform a rolling blackout where some areas will be without power for a designated amount of time.

To decrease the possibility of your appliances, computers, and other devices from receiving damage from a blackout or brownout, you might consider installing a surge protector. To find out more about this process, or how surge protectors work, call (210) 899-2430.