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For Electric Cooperative Members
For Electric Cooperative Members
Energy Safety

Understanding Power Blinks and Surges

Causes for brief disruptions in electric service can vary

Have you ever noticed your lights blink during a thunderstorm? Or perhaps you’ve returned home to found your microwave clock blinking despite a sunny day. When this happens, your home has likely experienced a brief disruption to your electric service, which could result from a power blink or surge. While the symptoms of blinks and surges can appear similar, what’s happening behind the scenes can be quite different.

Power Blinks

Power blinks are brief service interruptions typically caused by a fault (short circuit) on a power line or a protective device that’s working in reaction to the fault. Faults are caused by a variety of disturbances, like squirrels, birds or other small animals contacting an energized power line; tree branches touching a power line; or lightning. 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.

You may also experience a brief interruption when protective devices are working to detect the fault. Believe it or not, these brief power blinks caused by protective devices are actually good because that means the equipment is working as it should to prevent a prolonged outage.

Regardless of the outage cause, your electric cooperative’s crews will be on their way to inspect the damage and make necessary repairs. Any time you experience repeated power disruptions, please let us know so we can help you determine the cause and minimize future issues.

Power Surges

Power surges are brief overvoltage spikes or disturbances that can damage, degrade or destroy electronic equipment at your home or business. Most electronics are designed to handle small variations in voltage, but power surges can reach amplitudes of tens of thousands of volts, which can be extremely damaging to electronic equipment.

Surges can be caused by internal sources, like air conditioning systems, or external sources, like lightning and damage to power lines and transformers. We encourage all members to install surge protective devices to safeguard your sensitive electronics.