Sunday, July 08, 2012

? half your house with power, the other half * without * power ? Here is the explanation....

From John Salatti:

In many homes in Bloomingdale that still have their original electric meters and wiring (including mine), residents may experience what I term a ``brown out.``  A brown out is when a home loses only part of its power in contrast to a black out where the home loses all power.  Brown outs can occur with the older equipment because the original power feed came to our homes through two lines extending from the Pepco main feeder cable in the street or alley to the home`s electric meter and then to the circuit breaker box. 

During times when the drain on the power grid is pushing the system to or past its limits, Pepco can reduce that stress by cutting power to one of the two lines or sometimes a transformer serving one of the lines breaks down.  The result will be that half of a house will have power and half won`t.  This is an example of the proverbial half-a-loaf or a brown out.  In homes that have upgraded their electrical systems and thus have only one big line going to the meter and circuit breaker, when Pepco reduces current flowing through the system, these homes are likely to lose all power and have a black out.

If some residents have experienced brown outs this past week, that may have been because Pepco was trying to reduce stress on the system while it was trying to fix all the problems.  But the chances are good that certain transformers were not supplying power to both lines leaving some homes with partial power.  I just hope that anyone who experienced a brown out was lucky enough to have the refrigerator and some AC on the line that worked.

John T. Salatti
Vice President, Bloomingdale Civic Association
(202) 986 - 2592
``Together, Building a Better Bloomingdale``

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