brownout

  • Old Novice

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Blackouts are when you lose power entirely. Brownouts are when demand is so high relative to capacity that the engineers cannot maintain the level of delivered power at its desired state. The lights dim, or go "brown" rather than "black."
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Really? You made that up...!;)
    He definitely didn't. It's the wattage that drops (as it's been explained to me-- I couldn't swear by it), not the voltage. I understand brownouts are a way of life in California during what they call air-conditioning season.

    Nowadays I'll bet Californians are calling summer exactly what we call it in Montana-- Fire Season.
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    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    During a brownout the actual voltage is below the required, normal voltage, usually due to a too high power demand which cannot be satisfied temporarily.
    Well, now I have two explanations. I'm waiting for the third shoe to drop, and someone come along to say no, it's the amperage that's insufficient. I wish I could remember what I "learned" about the way those three aspects of electricity interrelate.
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    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Watts = volts x amps, so if voltage is reduced, so is the wattage. Wattage is analogous to power.

    Here's where I'm a little fuzzy... I'm almost sure the amperage is a function of the load you put on the system. That'll go down with voltage too, but it's an effect, not a cause.

    Edit - except that the brownout is probably caused by excess loads to begin with, which brings us full circle, I suppose.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Surely you all know what happens when the battery in your torch or the battery in your portable drill is coming to the end of its natural life?
    As soon as you put too much load on the supply, the bulb dims, the drill slows down.
    Brownout.
     
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