What Are Rolling Blackouts and How Can I Prepare for It?

battery backup for rolling blackouts

Nobody wants to be left in the dark. But that’s exactly what could happen during a rolling blackout. In case you didn’t know yet, rolling blackouts are controlled power outages where utilities shut off electricity to particular areas for a set of time.

That is often done as a last resort to avoid widespread power outages. If you’ve got medical equipment and work that demands uninterrupted electricity – you need a ready-to-go power supply.

That’s where solar power storage can save the day. In this post you’ll learn about rolling blackouts and tips to prepare for the next one.

What is a Rolling Blackout?

Utility companies may start a series of temporary power shutdowns when demand becomes higher than supply, putting equipment at higher risk of serious damage.

A rolling power outage allows the available energy supply to be shared among its customers. It also safeguards sensitivities such as hospitals from power loss. When the grid wasn’t protected against such overloads, the damage could cause a total shutdown of the grid. In the end, everybody could be left without power.

The difference between a blackout and a brownout is that the latter is a series of reduced power, while a blackout is when you have no power. In both scenarios, it is all about supply and demand.

What Causes Rolling Blackouts?

Most developing nations, like South Africa, do not generate sufficient power to support the needs of their county. In less than thirty years, Ghana noticed a fifty-five percent increase in power access for its population, but they are still rationing power to cope with out-of-date equipment.

Remember that rolling blackouts happen when there is a shortage in the power supply. The demand for electricity goes beyond the accessible supply. Thus, utilities institute temporary, area-particular blackouts to pre-emptively restore the supply and demand balance.

That is the technical reason. However, the problems causing rolling blackouts are more complicated. For instance, blackouts were caused by a combination of the state’s shift to renewable energy and extreme weather.

That was also intensified by poor planning on behalf of the utilities—in ignoring to predict the demand, they did not request sufficient power for the grid. Also, raising summer temperatures may make rolling blackouts more typical. 

Who Controls the Power Grid? Who is Responsible for Rolling Blackouts?

The utility company may decide which service areas should have rolling blackouts and their schedule or span. Other locations, like facilities, medical centers, and essential hospitals, may not have a power cut during rolling blackouts.

Also, the procedure for starting and organizing rolling power outages differs across the country. Normally, the regulative for power in an area request a rolling blackout, especially when their monitoring systems detect an issue. Your energy company is called by law to abide.

Many areas have plans that keep the power on to crucial facilities or locations and switch power on and off in portions of the grid until the order is completed.

How Do I Know If a Rolling Blackout Is Coming?

In most scenarios, utility companies will issue warnings or announcements if they know there will be a rolling blackout or power outage.

Nonetheless, the average time homes were without any power was forty-two hours. Still, there’s frequently a short window in which power providers can allow customers to know there will be a rolling blackout.

Other utilities will give notice when possible, but it is a good idea to be ready at all times for little to no notice of blackouts.

How Long Are Rolling Blackouts Going to Last?

Take note that the span of a rolling blackout depends on a series of variables. It depends on the seriousness of the event or the energy shortage. The utility provider will often try to keep the outage’s duration as short as possible for every area in the overall region of the rolling blackouts.

Also, the rolling blackout will finish when the emergency has concluded. Frequently, an outage lasts one to two hours, but it can be for longer periods. High power demand could be a sudden spike, meaning government companies or agencies may have to go into a rolling blackout fast.

How Should I Prepare for A Rolling Blackout?

Preparing for a harmless impact of a blackout indicates you will need to take a few simple steps. First, inventory all your essential resources and items dependent on electricity. We don’t mean the internet service, so you can binge-watch Bridgerton on Netflix. We mean essential supplies like medicine, food, and any must-have medical equipment and the like.

Next, make a blackout checklist with all your list of procedures to complete when the power goes out. You must prepare your perishable items for the longest store time and unplug all appliances from receptacles on the affected grid so you don’t risk burning them up when the power comes back on surges.

Finally, take stock of and do routine preventative maintenance on any systems you have. Keep the lights on at your house, should you have them. An item such as generators, backup power supplies, and the like.

As with any major disaster, there are three stages to risk mitigation. The most crucial steps to mitigating the worst impacts of a blackout are accomplished in the preparatory stage.

Before Blackout

  • Determine things that depend on electricity and create countermeasures for continuation after the loss of power, such as refrigerated medicines, medical devices, etc. Call your pharmacist or doctor for advice about preserving refrigerated medication and other tips for operating medical devices on backup power supplies. 
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors with a battery backup capability. 
  • Pre-select locations you may shelter in or at for better protection against extreme heat or cold. That could be public places with independent or backup power supply or just a shelter or structure that makes it simpler to sustain your body temperatures. 
  • Gather your blackout supply kit. Make sure you have supplemental and flameless lighting. 
  • Install thermometers in freezers and refrigerators. Get rid of wasted spaces as possible to help keep the compartments possible colder when the power is lost.

During Blackout

  • Consume refrigerator foods first and monitor your fridge’s temperature. Consider it no good when cold foods have been above forty degrees Fahrenheit for a few hours. 
  • If you cannot sustain your body temperature at a nominal level, don’t hesitate to go to your pre-decided secondary shelter. 
  • Check on neighbors and friends, particularly the old, very young, and infirm, who are still more vulnerable to exposure. 
  • Keep freezer and fridge doors closed tightly. Remember that your average fridge compartment will keep food at safe temperatures for at least four hours. A standard freezer will do the same for about forty-eight hours. 
  • Don’t use any combustible heat source or flame inside your homes, such as a generator, camp stoves, grills, etc. That also involves your gas stovetop when used to heat your home. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a lethal killer. 
  • As soon as you can, disconnect all the electronics and appliances. Severe destruction or damage may happen when there’s a power spike when service is restored.

After Blackout

  • If possible, tune in to regional or local news and emergency management notification systems. Listen to instructions and updates about the restoration of power, any water or sewage, and infrastructure damage advisories. 
  • Dispose of any food that’s no longer safe to eat. Take no chances! Remember that spoiled food can waylay you with one of the numerous nasty bugs. If food smells or looks weird, get rid of it immediately.

Insulation

Many homes in the region are not ready or insulated for extreme weather.

Unluckily, insufficient insulation impacts a home’s capability to stay cool in the summer. Insulating your home can save you substantial money and make your family safer in both chilly temperatures and hot months.

Shift to Solar

If people have realized anything in the past, their power grid is more vulnerable and unstable than they realized. Has the time already come to choose solar?

You see, solar energy is a clean energy source. The way it works is by translating the sun’s heat into electrical energy through a process known as the photovoltaic effect.

Also, solar panel systems utilize an inverter to convert the collected energy into electricity you can consume for your home and appliances. They can store extra energy into solar batteries you can use to energize your home during a rolling blackout.

But when should you take the necessary steps to switch to solar systems? Well, anytime is an excellent time to make the shift to a system that is solar-powered. Transitioning to clean, renewable energy only makes sense. 

Battery Backup Solar Generators 

battery backup for rolling blackouts

A backup generator can come in handy for a homeowner. During unfavorable weather conditions, such as high winds or heavy rainfall, there is a high chance of a power outage. Frequently, such hostile weather conditions could last for a while.

Backup energy options like the ones available at BLUETTI can be very convenient. Using our solar-powered generators means that your home appliances and gadgets will keep running smoothly irrespective of the weather condition outside or the longevity of power outages.

The BLUETTI AC300, EP500, and EP500Pro with UPS functionality are more suitable for frequent power outage scenarios.

There are many benefits to using a UPS system with a generator. First, it bridges the power gap when a generator starts up. When a rolling blackout happens, your generator does not turn automatically. During the time it takes for the generator to begin functioning, the UPS system will switch to battery backup power so none of the connected devices will feel the impact of the outage.

How cool is that?

How Can We Prevent Future Rolling Blackouts?

Solar power is one of the key ways state and federal governments strive to enhance grid resiliency. Solar-powered homes not only lessen the power demand but can also contribute excess power to the grid, raising and diversifying the accessible power supply.

Homeowners like those who are not dependent on solar power could do their part by minimizing their total energy consumption in general and directing their power use during off-peak hours. That may suggest using big appliances in the middle of the day, minimizing your use of AC during the afternoons, or even not using it.

Remember that air conditioning accounts for forty-two percent of residential power usage in Canada. In the future, rolling blackouts may become a typical part of everyone’s life. However, understanding why they are happening and leveraging your entire solar system and energy storage to lessen the impact allows you to carry on with minimal disruption.

Final Thoughts

Rolling blackouts on a small scale are common and are treated more as aggravations or inconveniences than serious disasters. However, experiencing a long and major blackout will be different and difficult. Put together an emergency plan and prepare it, for now, so you can get through it with some semblance of normalcy. 

Shop Bluetti for all your solar needs!

 

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