|Blinking Lights and Electronic Appliances|
|Library of Articles - Home Safety|
What Is a Blink?
A blink can be either an instantaneous voltage sag or an interruption that lasts for a short period of time. A sag is a momentary decrease in voltage, while an interruption is a loss of voltage. Blinks usually last less than a second. Typically, they occur suddenly, and power is immediately restored to normal.
Sags and interruptions of power can look the same to people. You may see your lights go off for a very short period of time due to either a sag or an interruption, and this is where the term "blink" originates.
Why Didn’t My Parents Have Problems with Blinks?
Your parents didn't have digital clocks, VCRs, computers, etc. They had blinks since the reasons for blinks have always existed, but they were less affected.
What Do Blinks Do?
When a blink occurs, it may or may not cause your electronic clocks and computers to require reprogramming. This means that you may have to reset your clocks, TVs, VCRs, and if you were doing something on your computer, you may have to start over again because it might have lost the work you've done. Hitting "save" on your computer more often is always a good idea to prevent loss of material.
What Household Items Can Be Affected By Blinks?
Electronic clocks that don't have a battery backup may begin flashing when a blink occurs. This can be any electronic clock in an alarm clock, refrigerator, coffee maker, TV, VCR, or any of the modern conveniences that have a clock installed in them. TVs and VCRs can also lose their programming.
Can My Utility Eliminate the Causes of Blinks?
No. Blinks come from a number of different sources, and your utility can't eliminate them. Some of these sources are listed below.
Storms can cause both sags and interruptions. Sags may occur on the utility system due to short circuits. Interruptions occur when utility breakers or fuses blow because of a short circuit or when the short circuit is between you and the substation providing your power.
Utility equipment failure can cause both sags and interruptions. Sometimes blinks are caused by a breaker that operates due to equipment failure.
Animals can get into wires or substation equipment and cause blinks.
Accidents involving automobiles with electrical supply equipment are another cause of blinks.
Wiring or equipment problems in your house can cause blinks.
What Can I Do If My Digital Clock Blinks?
For an alarm clock that has battery backup, you may need to replace the battery. If there is no provision for a battery, consider replacing the clock.
For sensitive electronic equipment that does not have a battery backup, you can purchase and install a separate battery backup system, commonly referred to as an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). A UPS has a battery and electronics which can power computers and electronic equipment for a short time. The goal of a UPS is to give you enough time to save information and/or shut down the equipment. If you want to get a UPS, you should seek assistance to select the right one for your intended use.
For other appliances or equipment, contact the manufacturer and inform them about the problem that you're experiencing. A manufacturer may have a suggestion for fixing the problem. If not, consider either replacing the appliance or using it as it is.
How Can I Choose Appliances That Are Unaffected by Blinks?
When purchasing appliances that are equipped with electronic clocks or controls, either make sure the labeling indicates that it has battery backup or test it in the store. Another option is inspecting the store display carefully to verify that it has a provision for adding batteries. A simple test can be done by unplugging the display appliance and plugging it back in while at the store. If the clock or control needs resetting, the appliance will be more likely to have problems from blinks. In some cases, it may be necessary for store personnel to assist you in testing the appliance. If the appliance is a TV or VCR, you also want to make sure that the programming is unaffected by the test.
Will My Surge Protector Help Me with Blinks?
Who Should Correct Any Wiring or Equipment Problems in My House?
Always hire a qualified electrician when working on your breaker box, fuse box, or household wiring. In many towns and cities, electricians must be licensed as contractors and be bonded.