April 21, 2023

Can You Use a Generator During a Brownout?


Power outages are frustrating and disruptive for homeowners and businesses. While most people are familiar with blackouts, brownouts are lesser-known power disturbances that can significantly affect the lights, HVAC system, and electronics in a building. Learn the differences between brownouts and blackouts, what to do if either event occurs, and how a generator can help you get by until the power is restored.

Understanding Brownouts vs. Blackouts

A brownout is a temporary reduction in voltage supplied by an electrical utility company typically caused by high demand, a problem within the power grid, or an intentional effort to avoid a full-blown blackout. During a brownout, the voltage drops below the standard level, leading to flickering lights, spotty internet connection, and devices not functioning properly. Although brownouts are less severe than blackouts, they can still damage sensitive electronics and disrupt your routine.

A blackout is a total loss of power lasting anywhere from a few minutes to several days or even longer. Blackouts are caused by severe weather, equipment failure, utility worker error, or issues within the power grid. During a blackout, electrical power is cut off completely, leaving homes and businesses without electricity until the issue is resolved.

What to Do During a Brownout or Blackout

If the power goes out or becomes spotty, don’t panic. Stay in your home, especially if the outage is caused by severe weather, and follow these steps:

  1. Unplug sensitive devices to protect them from damaging power surges during a brownout or blackout.
  2. Sign up for alerts from your local utility company to stay informed about the status of the blackout or brownout.
  3. Reduce unnecessary phone use to help the battery last. It’s wise to have a charged battery pack on hand for cases like this.
  4. Use flashlights, not candles, which can pose a fire hazard if left unattended.
  5. Avoid opening the fridge and freezer to preserve the cold temperature and prevent your food from spoiling. In general, refrigerated food is safe for four hours without power. Frozen food can last up to 48 hours if the freezer is full when the power goes out.
  6. Stay away from downed power lines to avoid electrocution. Report any downed lines you see to your utility company.

How a Generator Can Help During a Brownout or Blackout

Generators come in various sizes and types, including portable and standby models. Portable generators can be moved and connected to specific appliances, while standby generators are permanent installations that turn on automatically during a power outage.

Investing in a generator provides a reliable backup power source during a brownout or blackout. Generators run on natural gas, propane, or gasoline, supplying electricity to your home or business to keep the lights, HVAC system, and other essential devices functioning normally. This is particularly beneficial during extended power outages or in cases that involve life-preserving medical equipment. At Seidel Electric Inc, we understand the importance of having a backup power source during brownouts and blackouts. Our experienced electricians can help you choose a high-quality Generac generator for your needs, ensuring you’re prepared for the next power outage that hits the Tri-State Area. Contact us today at (908) 362-6191 for expert advice on selecting a generator for your New Jersey home or business.