What Is a Rolling Blackout?

Have you recently heard the term “rolling blackouts” or “rotating blackouts”? Are you a local resident and are concerned about how these blackouts may impact you? We’re here to set the story straight and help you feel more prepared if one of these outages makes its way to you.

There are many ways that you can prepare for the inconvenience that comes along with these short-term blackouts. Read on to learn more about why these outages occur and ways that you can get ready before they make their way to you.

What Are Rolling Blackouts?

Simply put, rolling blackouts are necessary to help control the chances of a long-term outage on a much larger scale. These outages are intentional and are a necessary evil to avoid more permanent issues in heavily populated areas with overused electricity grids.

These outages are different from typical local outages that can vary in severity and may even go unnoticed in some cases. Since these blackouts are planned by electricity providers, they’re typically done during off-peak hours in an attempt to lessen the impact on residents.

Rolling blackouts are used as a last-ditch effort to reduce the strain on the power grid. In highly populated areas that use a ton of electricity, these outages are used as a measure to control the chance of a much larger crash. In the summer seasons in hot environments when power use is typically at an all-time high, rolling blackouts may be necessary to ensure that the power supply isn’t fully cut off to any one area. 

While these blackouts may seem like a bit of an inconvenience to anyone living in the affected area, they’re temporary and are designed to lessen the chances of a much larger issue. The power will temporarily be shut off and returned to normal within a few hours, which will help maintain the longevity and health of the overall power grid.

What Causes Rolling Blackouts?

Rising temperatures and overuse of residential and commercial electricity are causing a strain on the grid like we have never seen before. Energy and power demand is at an all-time high, and electricity companies are forced to implement these types of solutions to avoid a much larger scale energy crash.

A simple way to look at things is that energy and electricity are in high demand, though there’s only a limited supply to go around. When one geographic area monopolizes a large portion of the electricity supply, it can cause a much larger issue for the grid as a whole. 

To control this issue, power companies will carefully select sections of the grid to shut off to balance out the overall system. These outages are strategic and focus on areas where the supply may be over-concentrated. Rolling blackouts are well thought out and ultimately help to ensure the grid can withstand the growing demand for electricity.

Most commonly, the need for rolling blackouts occurs during the most extreme weather conditions when residents use a larger amount of power to keep their homes comfortable. Rolling blackouts are short-lived, though you should certainly take the time to prepare for a power outage that may very likely occur in the coldest or hottest seasons of the year.

What Is the Difference Between a Rolling Blackout and a Brownout?

As the name suggests, blackouts occur when the entire power grid is shut down and things go dark for an extended period. These outages can range in severity and length, though power must be fully shut off for it to be considered a blackout. 

Conversely, brownouts are a bit less severe and likely won’t cause as widespread of an impact as a traditional rolling blackout. This is because these outages may not shut the power off fully. 

Brownouts can happen in an attempt to converse power on a large scale without fully shutting it off from the source. Electricity companies may utilize a brownout to reduce the power supply to the grid to help level things back out before returning to normal.

How can a brownout impact you? Unlike in a blackout, you won’t lose access to power entirely. You may notice that some of your larger devices, like your television or computer, are struggling to stay powered up. This is because these devices require a more significant influx of electricity to run and may be contributing to the strain on the grid more than the lights and fans in your home. 

Are you concerned about losing connection during a brownout? Consider alternative power sources such as the EcoFlow DELTA Pro Ultra. This device is a backup power plan for the entire house and can keep you connected during any scale of outage in your area.

How Long Do Rolling Blackouts Last? 

Since rolling blackouts are planned events, they’re not intended to last for an extended time. That being said, it’s best to prepare for the worst-case scenario and stay stocked up with an emergency supply kit in case the outage goes on longer than anticipated. 

In most cases, rolling blackouts are expected to last one to two hours. Electricity providers will choose sections on the grid to reduce or cut power to for a selected period. It allows for the balance of power to be restored to the rest of the grid. Once the power is returned to that selected area, the provider will likely shut off the power to another area; hence the term “rotating” or “rolling” blackout. 

Once the grid is no longer being strained as it was, the power will return to normal in all areas without the chance of another blackout. 

If you’re in an area impacted by a rolling blackout and feel that the power has been out for longer than the normal timeframe, reach out to your utility provider for the most accurate update on when you should expect your power to return. 

How Do You Prepare for a Rolling Blackout?

Have you heard that a rolling blackout is planned for your area? Here are some steps you can take to ensure you’re prepared and stocked up on essential items no matter how long the power may be out.

Stock Up on Emergency Supplies

When a rolling blackout is scheduled, you’ll lose access to power for an undisclosed amount of time. During this time, you should keep your fridge and freezer closed to ensure that none of your perishable products spoil while the power has been shut off. 

Having an emergency supply kit on hand is always the wisest choice and can save you from any unnecessary panic when the grid gets shut off. A basic emergency supply kit should include the following: 

  • Food and water for each member of your household
  • Flashlights and candles
  • Mobile Phones
  • A radio to hear updates from your local news station
  • Back-up power and portable charging devices
  • First aid kid and any necessary medications

This basic list will prepare you for any inconvenience caused by the outage. In most cases, these outages will last no more than an hour. However, based on the severity of the strain on the grid, they could last for a longer period, so it is always best to be prepared.

Pay Attention to Local News

In many cases, rotating outages will be discussed on your local news station in the days before they occur. As stated above, these outages are planned and aren’t intended to surprise residents. 

Your local government sites may also keep a log of when the outages can be expected. If you’re curious about how they plan these outages and when and where they’ll take place, you can reach out to your electricity provider or local government to better understand what’s to come.

It’s an excellent step to take to be prepared for the outage and will supply you with the most accurate information.

Have a Back-Up Power Plan

Ultimately, even with a heads-up from your local news station, these rolling blackouts can seem to come out of nowhere and may even catch you by surprise. Without a proper warning, you may be left with little to no time to prepare, so it’s in your best interest to invest in a reliable backup power plan to help you through any short or long-term outages that may happen in the future. 

The EcoFlow Solar Generators and EcoFlow DELTA Series Solar Generators are excellent investments for any homeowners in the area. Solar energy is the way of the future and provides a great contingency plan in case of any outages in your area. These devices are designed to harness and store solar power and convert it into usable energy to power your home even when the grid is down.

Looking for a less permanent installment to keep your home powered up through the next rolling blackout? Consider choosing the EcoFlow DELTA Series Portable Power Station instead. These power stations are easy to transport and can be taken wherever you need to go.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know If a Rolling Blackout Is Coming?

Rolling Blackouts are intentional, so there are ways to prepare for them when they occur. You can reach out to your local utility provider or do some research to see if these are listed on local government sites. Your nearby news crews may also cover this type of story on their evening show, so keep an ear open for the term “rolling blackout” or “rotating outages”. 

Who Should I Contact in Case of a Rolling Blackout?

If you suspect that a rolling blackout has occurred, you can reach out to your utility provider for regular updates. These providers are in charge of supplying you with power and will likely be able to provide the most realistic update on when your power services will be returned to normal. You can also listen to local radio and news stations to stay up on the latest news.

Final Thoughts

Rolling blackouts are nothing to be afraid of, though they can certainly cause you some inconvenience and discomfort while they’re taking place. With this guide, we hope you feel more knowledgeable and prepared for when the next rotating outage makes its way to your neighborhood.

Don’t let the next rolling blackout catch you by surprise. Solidify your backup power needs by investing in EcoFlow Portable Power Stations to have peace of mind all year long.

EcoFlow is a portable power and renewable energy solutions company. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has provided peace-of-mind power to customers in over 85 markets through its DELTA and RIVER product lines of portable power stations and eco-friendly accessories.


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