Power Outages: What, Why and How to Protect Your Melbourne Home

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Power outages. They always seem to come at the least convenient times. Just when you’re about to cook dinner on your induction cooktop, or juuuuuuust before you save that important document you’ve been working on for an hour.

Save your work during a power outage with an uninterruptible power supply

But power outages can be more than just an inconvenience—they can disrupt your daily life and even result in costly consequences. Having to replace the contents of your fridge and freezer is an expensive exercise, and we’re all becoming more and more reliant on electronics for our daily lives.

While it's impossible to prevent power outages entirely, understanding what they are and why they happen can help us to minimise the impact. 

What are power outages?

Supply authorities classify three types of electrical faults as power outages:


A blackout is the total loss of power to an area, varying from minutes to weeks based on severity. During a blackout, your lights and power stop working altogether. Your home abruptly plunges into darkness and the background noise that accompanies your daily life ceases (it’s strangely unnerving when the fridge stops humming, even if you never consciously notice it normally). Most inconveniently in today’s digital world, your WiFi will also stop working!

It’s important to stay calm during a blackout, and having a plan already in place can help you to get through successfully. Check out our blog on ‘What to do during a power outage in Melbourne’.


A brownout is a temporary drop in the voltage of an electrical power supply. They usually last for a short period and things return to normal once the electricity supply stabilises. This might look like the lights dimming for no apparent reason, or a dip in the performance of your electronic devices. 

While domestic equipment in homes might not be severely affected by a brownout, sensitive electronic devices could experience disruptions. Computers, for example, might slow down, and electronic gadgets might not function optimally. In industrial or commercial settings, where large motors are in operation, a brownout can cause these motors to run inefficiently or, in some cases, stall. This can lead to disruptions in manufacturing processes or other industrial activities.

Permanent Fault

A permanent fault sounds bad, but is usually easy to fix and contained to a small area. It’s usually caused when a household is using too many high-energy appliances at once, which causes the circuit breaker to trip. This shuts off power to that circuit until the fault is cleared (eg. turning off some of the appliances). Once the issue is resolved and the circuit breaker is flipped back ON at the switchboard, the power is restored. 

What are the common causes of power outages?

Understanding the causes of power outages can help you be prepared in advance.

Weather: The unpredictable nature of Australia's weather poses a significant challenge to power infrastructure. High winds, flying debris, heavy rain or flooding all have the potential to wreak havoc on power lines.

Power outages are commonly caused by trees falling on power lines

Voltage Spikes: Lightning strikes can cause temporary increases in voltage when increased electrical energy surges through power lines. Tripped circuit breakers or short circuits can also contribute to sudden spikes in voltage, potentially causing disruptions in the power supply.

Vehicles: Car accidents can compromise power poles or bring down power lines. The damaged infrastructure will require the power to be disconnected for repair.

Electricity distributor like United Energy fixing a power outage

Bushfires: During bushfire emergencies or high risk days, sometimes the disconnection of electricity supplies is taken as a safety measure. 

Animals: Just like possums and rats can cause mayhem with your home electrical system, wild animals can also interfere with transformers and fuses. This may trigger an automatic shutdown to prevent further damage to the electrical equipment.

Excavation Works: Dial-before-you-dig protocols are there for a reason! Digging can have unintended consequences if you inadvertently damage underground power lines during excavations.

High Power Demand: Periods of very high demand, such a hot summer days, can strain the power grid beyond its capacity. In 2009, 500,000 Melbournians experienced prolonged power outages, some lasting up to 20 hours, as the electrical grid struggled to meet the unprecedented demand.

Can Power Outages Damage Equipment?

Temporary voltage dips during brownouts generally don’t cause damage to domestic equipment, but may disrupt industrial machinery.

Total loss of power during blackouts is not usually harmful, but when the power comes back on it may cause a power surge. This excess voltage CAN cause damage to electronic equipment like TVs, fridges and more. 

Protecting Your Electrical Equipment:

There are a few proactive measures you can take to protect your electrical devices and appliances from possible damage caused by blackouts and electrical surges.

  • Make sure you have RCD safety switch protection on all circuits
  • Use power boards with built-in surge protection
  • Consider installing surge protection devices in your switchboard
  • Look into whether an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) would benefit you by offering protection and temporary power during outages
Surge protection device to protect electrical appliances during power surge
Surge protection device to protect electrical appliances during power surge

Our expert team at Kenner Electrics can provide guidance on RCD safety switches, surge protectors, and uninterruptible power supply systems tailored to your needs.

Conclusion: Be Prepared, Stay Protected

We get it – power disruptions can be a hassle. That's why understanding the nitty-gritty details of outages and taking action beforehand is key. And guess what? We're here to make sure you're in the know and fully prepared.

Got questions about surge protectors? Wondering whether your switchboard has safety swiches? Kenner Electrics has the answers and we’re here to help.

Why Choose Kenner Electrics?

Kenner Electrics is your trusted local electrician. We have a friendly and professional team of highly qualified, experienced and licensed electricians ready to handle all your commercial and residential electrical needs.

We provide up-front pricing with a clear explanation of the work required to avoid cost overruns. We provide prompt and efficient service and prioritise safety on each and every job. We are fully insured, licensed and accredited, we're a member of the National Electrical & Communications Association, and we are a registered electrical contractor with Energy Safe Victoria. We always provide compliance certificates for all completed electrical installation work.

We're one of the top rated electricians in Melbourne with over 300 genuine 5-star reviews from residential and business customers just like you.

Call our friendly team on (03) 9996 0663 or contact us online now.

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