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Microwave with blinking clock

“Blinks” can signal a properly working electrical system

OCR on the ground
OCR sitting on the ground

We often hear the question from members “What causes my lights to blink?” A “blink” is when the power grid is subject to a momentary loss of power. Lights may turn off and then right back on like when you blink your eyes. It can be annoying, and Craighead Electric Cooperative takes all possible measures to prevent these occurrences and minimize their impact on our members, but the smart power grid may have just blinked to save you from sitting in the dark through a full-blown outage. 

When an interruption of power or short circuit occurs on the line from a lightning strike, an automobile striking a pole, or a critter or tree branch coming into contact with an energized power line a device called an “oil circuit recloser” (OCR) opens to stop it then quickly closes back. An OCR is essentially a breaker, functioning much like a breaker in the electrical panel in your home, except it can reset itself automatically.

Have you ever noticed that blinks often come in sets of three before an outage? If the disruption continues, the OCR will operate or “trip” two more times giving the fault a chance to clear itself. If it does, it saves the Cooperative from taking an outage and having to roll a truck. If it does not, the OCR stays open and stops the flow of electricity, protecting the lines from damage until the problem can be fixed. 

Although the process is quick, blinks may cause circuitry in small appliances to lose their electronic memory making it necessary to reset digital clocks and appliances with digital displays. Cooperative members can lessen the effect and inconvenience of “blinks” when they occur. 

  • When purchasing small appliances and digital clocks, consider models with battery backup or smart devices that can reset themselves. 
  • Lease a meter-base surge protector from Craighead Electric to help protect major appliances in your home.
  • Invest in surge-protector-power-strips with built-in uninterruptable power supply (UPS) for your computer or other electronic devices whose “memory” would be lost with a power interruption.

Remember: When lights blink, it is an indication that the cooperative’s equipment is operating properly.

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