Brownouts vs. Blinking Lights

Brownouts versus blinking lights

You’re at home and suddenly the lights get really bright in part of the house while dimming in another. Or your lights and appliances work in one part of your home but not in other areas. What’s going on? Those could be symptoms of “brownouts,” also called partial power or low voltage. But don’t confuse partial power with blinking lights.

Brownouts or partial power

Partial power at a home is usually caused by a problem with neutral or ground connections. This could be a bad connection at the transformer, a bad connection to the pole ground, a bad connection to the primary neutral conductor, a bad connection in the meter base, a secondary conductor that is failing, or problems within the home at the breaker panel or individual circuits.

Signs of partial power include dim lights or appliances that work in some parts of the home but not in others, and some lights getting really bright while others dim.

For a large number of members, partial power could be caused by a transmission problem or a voltage regulator not working properly. It also occurs when one phase of the transmission three-phase is not energizing a substation transformer. If that happens, two of our distribution phases will have low voltage and therefore cause low voltage within the home.

What should you do?

If you experience partial power, you should turn off your main breaker and call Nodak or an electrician. If the partial power is affecting everything in your home, call Nodak Electric so we can advise you on whether the source of the problem is ours or if it’s on your side of the meter.

Blinking lights

Blinking lights is a complete, momentary power outage – perhaps just for a few seconds. Sometimes, the lights may completely blink off just once, and then everything is fine again. Or the lights may blink on and off a few times followed by a complete power outage. Blinking lights occurs when there is a fault on our electric system, such as a tree or branch in contact with a power line. If this happens, it’s a sign that our electric system is working as designed. If you have questions regarding partial power or blinking lights, please contact Nodak Electric at 1-800-732-4373.