Power supply occurrences that were unnoticed years ago are “reported” today by the many electronic devices all around us. Before digital clocks we never noticed these “blinks.” Now these events seem to happen all the time. They are not more frequent, but we are more aware of them.

It might surprise you to know that most power quality problems begin right in the home. A spike (a.k.a. transient surge) may occur in the building’s wiring when electric motors, like those on the refrigerator or air conditioner, start up. Other problems may come from faulty wiring, loose connections, poor grounding and inadequate wire size. These conditions can cause voltage drops, momentary outages (blinks), or electrical noise.

Many times, having the power blink is better than the alternative – having it go out completely. Blinks are sometimes caused by devices designed to protect the electrical system. These devices are called “reclosers.” Reclosers essentially act like the circuit breakers in your home, with one major difference. They reset themselves after “breaking” the circuit. The intent is that a tree touching the line, or other problem, will cause the recloser to open. The device will reset itself, and power will once again flow down the line.

If the problem has cleared the line, power will stay on. If the problem still exists, the recloser will operate again. After trying three times, most reclosers are designed to stay open until the problem is fixed and the device is manually reset. The opening and closing of the recloser is almost instantaneous and is often not even noticed. The alternative to using reclosers is to use fuses on each line. While greater use of fuses would result in fewer blinks, it would also create more outages.

CEC is constantly evaluating our power lines to identify potential blink-causing problems so that we can take preventative measures. While we may not be able to prevent all blinks, please let us know if your home experiences an excessive number of them.