Understanding Power Blinks

Power blinks signal a properly working electrical system.

At one time or another, we’ve all returned home or awakened late for work to see a blinking “12:00” on our digital alarm clock. You then have to reset every digital clock in your household that doesn’t have a battery backup, from the microwave oven to the answering machine. Usually, this state of “blinking clock” was caused by a “blink” in the electrical system. While blinks can be annoying, they show that an electrical system is working exactly as designed. And while Cobb EMC has taken steps to reduce the number of blinks across its power system, there are measures you can take as well.

Why blinks?

Blinks are created when a breaker, or switch, opens along any portion of the power system. The breaker usually opens because of a large, quick rise of electrical current. This large rise, called a fault condition, can occur when a tree branch touches a line, a squirrel or rodent climbs on a switch or lines, lightning strikes or a wire breaks. When this happens, a relay senses the fault and tells the breaker to open, preventing the flow of power to the problem site. After opening, the breaker quickly closes. The brief delay, which allows the fault to clear, usually lasts less than 2 seconds. If the fault clears, every home or business that receives electricity off that power line has just experienced a blink. This could include thousands of accounts if the breaker protects a transmission line or a substation.

Reducing the blink’s effects

Cobb EMC employs methods to reduce blink frequency by tree trimming and by deploying squirrel guards on the power poles. Meanwhile, you can reduce the frustration of blinks by purchasing an alarm clock equipped with a battery backup. This type of digital clock offers “ride through” ability for momentary outages. It will also keep the correct time and sound an alarm in case of a long duration outage, provided a charged battery is in place.

If you work from home and use a computer, a blink may cause your computer to reboot, and you may lose unsaved data on the computer. An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) on your computer can help prevent information loss. The UPS incorporates surge suppression technology with a battery backup and provides you some time to save whatever you were working on and exit your computer properly.

The future of blinks

Cobb EMC operates an active system maintenance program and works hard to identify and fix sources of service interruptions. Even though blinks will never disappear from our electrical energy delivery system, by working together we can minimize effects of the interruptions and the frequency with which they occur.