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Brownout Vs Blackout: What’s The Difference?

Regardless of what industry your business is from – electricity applies to everyone. Without it, your business will not be able to operate as usual as no power is being supplied to any of your equipment.

Moreover, the dire consequences that come together with a power outage will only create more losses for your business. From downtime, monetary losses to equipment failure – a business shouldn’t make light of such a situation.

However, over time, such incidents will happen, and the best thing you can do is understand what they are to deal with the issue. Below, we will be shedding light on two types of power outages – blackouts and brownouts.


A brownout doesn’t just happen all on its own – an electric company is the one behind the power outage.

As a result of high electricity demand which is almost reaching or higher than a utility’s production capacity – the electric company intentionally causes a brownout to prevent a blackout from happening.

Usually, the power supply can be brought down to approximately 75% for a short period of time – cutting off 25% to save the grid in the process. A brownout can typically last from a few minutes up to a couple of hours.


Unlike brownouts, a blackout is when a complete loss of power occurs. Brownouts are not much of an issue since they’re done on purpose – but a blackout can affect your business greatly in a negative manner.

The period of time they can last for is unpredictable – it goes from a couple of minutes to even a few weeks – it all just depends on the nature of the blackout.

However, an electric company may also execute a rolling blackout. It’s also when they make a decision to cut the power supply. But in this case, it’s not done to prevent a blackout – other possible reasons include scheduled maintenance, insufficient power supply or to prevent systems from being over-taxed.



Expanding on what we’ve said previously, the demand for power supply is always ever-changing. So, electrical utilities have to make use of their transformers, substations and generators to ensure the electricity produced and distributed is at the right amounts.

That’s when a brownout occurs to make sure of that. On the other hand, for less common cases, brownouts may also happen due to malfunction or damage within the grid or a closeby power plant.

Other reasons also include poor power quality as a result of out-of-date electrical lines or to relieve voltage requirements to worn out systems.


Blackouts can happen due to equipment breakdowns, extreme weather conditions or power trips. And it’s usually because of a temporary surge in electrical supply voltage.

Meanwhile, human error can also be a leading cause – it’s when individuals make wrong decisions such as switching off an electrical line or overusing equipment. On rare occasions, vehicles, bushfires or even animals coming into contact with the equipment can cause a blackout to happen as well.

What you can do

For brownouts, you should check with the electrical company if the brownout is indeed coming from the grid. If it’s really the case, wait it out or call in an electrical if you require electricity immediately.

As for blackouts, you could make a report to the electrical company. However, as compared to a brownout, there is an underlying cause.

Make a schedule with your engineer and get them to check on the equipment. Among your equipment, one of them could be the main reason for the blackout. Do a quick maintenance checkup such as a motor or generator overhaul or any other relevant services.

Now that we’ve gone through the two different power outages, we hope that you’ve understood these situations! Also, be sure to engage in services like proper Cummins generator installation and necessary electric transformer testing, so they’re working to its full potential right from the very start.

Whether a power outage is avoidable or bound to happen – equipment condition always plays a part.