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Brownout Vs Blackout: How Do You Prepare for Both?

Brownout Vs Blackout: How Do You Prepare for Both?

There’s no denying how inconveniencing power outages can be. It causes everything from flickering lights to complete darkness. However, these power outages come in two different types which include, brownouts and blackouts. While both types of outages leave everywhere pitch dark, they are caused by different factors that yield diverse consequences. In this article, we shall be looking at the difference between brownouts vs blackouts while exploring the causes, effects, and how to prepare against them.

Without much ado, let’s dive right in!

What is a Brownout?


Chances are that you have experienced a sudden dimming of lights or a brief power outage either at home or in your office. What you’ve encountered is a brownout. A brownout is a temporary drop in voltage in an electrical power supply. It usually lasts for a few seconds or minutes, causing all the lights to dim and appliances to slow down and shut down eventually.


Brownouts mostly occur when there’s an imbalance between the demand and supply of electricity causing the power grid to be overloaded. This happens often during times of frequent electricity usage such as on hot summer days when everybody is using their air conditioning and other cooling appliances at the same time.


One of the major setbacks of brownouts is that they can cause damage to electronic appliances. Therefore, to prevent this, it’s best to turn off or unplug those appliances like televisions, computers, and refrigerators when a brownout occurs.


Generally, brownouts are an inconvenience and happen a lot in many areas. But when you understand what causes them and how to guide your electrical appliances from getting damaged, you’ll be better prepared to handle them when they occur.


Difference between Blackout and Brownout

The difference between blackout and brownout lies in their severity and causes.


A blackout is a complete loss of electrical power supply. This means that all the lights and appliances shut down when it happens.


On the other hand, a brownout is a temporary reduction in power voltage that causes lights to dim and other electrical appliances to malfunction or shut down. These brownouts happen when there’s not enough power to keep up with the demand for electricity.


Generally, blackouts last longer than brownouts. While blackouts last for hours or even days depending on the cause, brownouts only last for a few seconds or minutes. Thus, blackouts are much more severe than brownouts. Though brownouts occur more frequently.



A blackout is usually caused when there is a disruption in the power grid due to severe weather, high demand for electricity, or equipment failure. However, a brownout is usually caused by a high demand for electricity that the power grid can’t keep up with. This could be due to an increase in electrical appliances or air conditioners being used at the same time in a given area.


Therefore, blackouts result from large-scale disruptions of the power grid while brownouts are caused by localized spikes in demand for electricity. Both will cause some even serious problems and should be taken seriously. It is important to take preventive measures in order to minimize their occurrence and effects on our lives.


What to do During a Brownout?

During a brownout, you should take all necessary steps to ensure that your electrical gadgets like computers, televisions, and refrigerators are well protected from damage.


Unplug the Power Supply

This will protect them from the power fluctuations or surges that occur during a brownout. Also, make sure that you are not using any major electrical appliances until power returns to normal.


Use Portable Power Stations

If you have spare power sources like Anker 757 PowerHouse at home, these can be used as a temporary solution to provide a power supply for essential devices during the brownout. These portable power stations are a great way to keep your gadgets running until the grid is back on.


Know the Latest Brownout Status

You can check with your local power company or visit their website to get more information on when power is expected to be returned to normal.


Avoid Opening the Refrigerator

The cold air in the refrigerator will escape quickly if you open it, causing the food inside to spoil. Therefore, keeping your refrigerator closed as much as possible during a brownout is important.


Keep Away from Power Cables

When the power returns to normal, it is possible for power surges to occur. Therefore, avoid touching any exposed wires or cables until you are sure that the voltage has stabilized.


How to Prepare for the Next Brownout

Before a brownout occurs, it’s important that you’re prepared enough to keep your family safe and comfortable during the temporary power outage. Here are the steps you should take:

  1. Ensure that your home is stocked up on essentials like non-perishable food and bottled water including essentials like batteries, flashlights, and candles. If you’re living in an area with continuous brownouts, it’s best to buy a long-lasting portable power station like Anker 757 PowerHouse.

  2. You should also have a plan in place with your family on what to do during a brownout. This involves assigning responsibilities to each member of the family. The responsibilities can involve checking on elderly or disabled relatives and making sure that everyone knows where to find emergency supplies.

  3. Make sure that your electronic devices like cell phones and laptops are fully charged if possible.

  4. Lastly, you should keep your car fuel tank filled up. This is especially if you’ll need to leave your home during a brownout.


It’s important to understand the difference between brownout vs blackout as it will help you prepare for any power emergencies. While both types of power outages cause inconvenience in our daily lives, they have distinct characteristics. With brownouts, there’s a partial loss of power and can cause damage to appliances and electronics while blackouts with their total loss of power can result in more severe consequences like injuries and loss of productivity. Understanding what to do during a brownout and how to prepare for it will also minimize its impact and you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

FAQ on Brownout vs Blackout

Are brownouts worse than blackouts?

Actually no, and a blackout is far more troublesome than a brownout. A full power loss occurs in the case of a blackout and all activities that require electricity become impossible to complete.

Brownouts on the other hand only result in some light dimming or flickering, or short-term shut-off as opposed to an entire lack of energy. Both types of power outages cause inconveniences and disruption to daily life, While blackouts lead to more severe consequences..

What do you unplug in a brownout?

During a brownout, you should unplug all non-essential devices and appliances like computers and televisions to protect them from potential damage when power is finally restored. Though you can still leave some lights on to indicate when power is restored.

Do brownouts damage electronics?

Yes, brownouts can damage electronics. When there is a temporary reduction in power voltage, these devices will not receive enough power to operate properly which might cause malfunction or even permanent damage.

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