Understanding the differences between power surges and blinks

Understanding the differences between power surges and blinks

Have you ever noticed your lights blink during a thunderstorm? Or perhaps you have noticed a blinking microwave clock when you arrive home. When this happens, you have 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 is happening behind the scenes can be quite different.

What’s a power surge?
Power surges are brief overvoltage spikes or disturbances of a power waveform that can damage, degrade or destroy electronic equipment within your home or business. Most electronics are designed to handle small variations in voltage; however, power surges can reach amplitudes of tens of thousands of volts – this can be extremely damaging to your electronic equipment.  
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. 
REC encourages all members to install surge protective devices (such as surge protector power strips) to safeguard your sensitive electronics. If you are 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 are typically caused by a fault (short circuit) on a power line or a protective device that is working in reaction to the fault. Faults can occur through a variety of instances, like squirrels, birds 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. 
Any of the events noted above can cause your power to blink, but you may also experience a brief interruption when protective devices acting like circuit breakers are working to detect the fault. Believe it or not, these brief power blinks caused by protective devices are actually good because it means the equipment is working as it should to prevent a prolonged outage. 
Regardless of the cause, REC crews will be on their way to inspect the damage and make necessary repairs after a power outage. Any time you experience repeated disruptions to your electric service, please let us know by calling our office at 800-259-3504 or using your SmartHub.

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