What Are the Leading Causes of Power Outages?

Losing power to your home can be a lot more than an inconvenience and you soon realize how much you depend on this energy source when it is no longer flowing through your home.

A good way of ensuring you have the resources you need would be to look at the benefits attached to installing solar panels. That is always an option worth exploring when you consider the drive for renewable energy and the level of self-sufficiency harnessing the solar energy can deliver.

Meanwhile, while you are still heavily reliant on the grid system in your area it is a good idea to understand what power outages are and what events are most likely to cause a loss of electricity to your home.

Power outages explained

It has to be said that various power grid networks that supply electricity to properties across the land in most developed countries tend to be reasonably robust and reliable.

These systems are designed to perform well in the face of adversity and are often capable of withstanding the sort of physical forces and human errors that can threaten the functionality of the grid.

Inevitably, there is a breaking point for every such system and this leads to a power outage scenario.

What are power outages?

Before we take a look at the leading causes of power outages it will be useful to understand what a power outage actually is.

In simple terms, a power outage perfectly describes the problem. When the electrical power network or the grid system that is feeding the supply to properties in your area becomes unavailable for any reason everyone who gets their electricity supply from this source is impacted.

The fundamental point about a power outage is that it is caused by a problem that your electricity supplier has rather than an issue that causes the power in your property alone to fail.

If everyone else in your neighborhood has power but you don’t, that will probably be a circuit breaker problem in your home, for instance. When everyone is impacted by a loss of electricity that is a power outage.

Any interruption of power between the generator source and the power lines will plunge your home into darkness until the problem is fixed by the electricity company.

How long will the disruption last?

Power outages can last for a few seconds or minutes, but some can last for weeks as a result of severe conditions.

Here is a look at some of the primary causes of a power outage.

Different types of power outages

There are main types of power outages and they are defined according to the severity of the conditions that led to power being lost and what sort of disruption and consequences each scenario leads to.

A blackout is a term used to describe a complete loss of power to an area. This is the most severe of all possible power outages and impacts many households over a large geographical area.

The root cause is often due to damage caused to electrical generation facilities, especially structural damage, which is not usually something that can be fixed in a few hours.

A brownout is when the level of voltage drops. You will usually see the lights dimming when this happens.

A permanent fault is when you experience a sudden loss of power as a result of a problem with a power line through damage or emergency repairs being required. This type of outage usually impacts a smaller number of properties compared to a blackout.

Rolling blackouts are distinctly different from other types of power outages because they are actually planned outages. The power company maybe upgrade the infrastructure or replace a part of the network that is unstable.

The fact that there were more than 1.25 billion hours of outages in the US throughout 2020 will tell you that power outages are more common than you might have thought.

What are the main causes of interruptions to the power supply?

Weather is the prime suspect

Without a doubt, the number one reason for power outages is adverse weather conditions. This can be anything from violent storms, exceptionally cold conditions, high winds, and any other weather event that puts undue pressure on the grid.

The electricity network is always going to be vulnerable to severe weather conditions and that can mean heatwaves as well as extreme cold or a storm.

Certain areas around the country will always experience a greater number of power outages than others and even though the power company will have taken steps to take account of localized weather trends, uncontrollable events will still always lead to disruption.

Human error

Although nature takes the top spot as a leading cause of power outages it is human error that often rates as the next biggest reason for a loss of power.

It only takes an operator error or an accident to lead to a shutdown of power while the problem is fixed. It stands to reason that areas with a high density of population will usually have a larger amount of generating plants to cope with demand. This also means that there are more opportunities for a mistake or accident to cause a power outage.

Animals can cause problems

Animal interference is also cited as a large contributor to power outages. More rural areas will usually be impacted by this particular problem and delays can occur when it takes time for the power company to identify and reach the impacted area.

Capacity problems

Large urban areas put a great strain on the network at certain times and capacity problems in some densely populated city areas can cause power outages when the grid struggles to generate enough power to meet demand.

Continuing investment in the network and improvements in technology are helping to ensure that power outages are happening less frequently than in the past. However, it is not a problem that is ever likely to be completely eradicated, which is why it is wise to make contingency plans.

Being able to generate your own energy when you need it would be a good way of reducing your reliance on the grid and ensuring that you are not as badly impacted by a power outage when it happens in your area.

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