In the future, rolling blackouts may become more frequent in some countries, and in others, are already a way of everyday life (like in South Africa).
But rolling blackouts are not just subject to developing countries, the can occur in developed countries to.
A few months ago the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) warned that two-thirds of the U.S. could experience blackouts this summer.
In this article, we take a deep dive into what rolling blackouts are, how they occur, and how we can prepare for them.
Let's get started.
What is a rolling blackout?
Rolling blackouts, also known as rota, rotational load shedding, feeder rotation, rotating outage, rota disconnection or just, load shedding, is a controlled shutdown of electrical power to the grid.
What causes rolling blackouts?
In developing countries
In developing countries, rolling blackouts are a very common occurrence, sometimes taking place on a daily basis. Most of the times, these type of blackouts occur because electricity generation capacity is underfunded or infrastructure is poorly managed. In the country of South Africa multiple periods of rolling blackouts have been experienced.
At first, this was because the countries electricity demand, outgrew the generation, the issue today has only been exacerbated due to aging power infrastructure and overall poor maintenance.
It is important to note, different countries, refer to the phenomena by different names. For example, in Ghana, rolling blackouts are known as Dumsor. In. South Africa, it is known as loadshedding.
In developed countries
In developed countries, rolling blackouts sometime occur due to economic forces at the expense of system reliability. However, most of the time, extreme weather events such as heat waves, earth quakes or winter storms damage the local utilities ability to generate power.
Until the grid is fixed, planned outages must be implemented to meet energy demand.
Who controls the power grid/is responsible for rolling blackouts?
According to Energy.Gov "The Federal government, through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, regulates interstate power sales and service. State governments, through their public utility commissions or equivalent, regulate retail electric service as well as facility planning and siting."
How do I know if a rolling blackout is coming?
If you live in a country that experiences frequent rolling blackouts (such as in South Africa) there is likely to be some technology (generally in the form of mobile apps) which can help to warn you of upcoming rotational load shedding.
However, in many cases, these blackouts may occur without warning.
When this happens, many people are left without the convenience of electricity, and must resort back to using gas until the electricity is restored.
How long does a rolling blackout last?
This depends on where you are located but generally depends on the severity of the electricity supply shortfall and the persistence of peak demand.
Rolling blackouts can last for an hour, sometimes 4 or more. Generally, rolling blackouts occur for longer in developing countries.
How should I prepare for rolling blackouts?
There is really on a few ways you can prepare for rolling blackouts, and that is via supplemental energy generation.
In other words, you need to produce your own electricity. In a sense, by doing this, you become self reliant, or less reliant on your utility grid for electricity.
A few ways you can produce your own electricity is with:
- Residential solar systems
- Solar generators
- Wind turbines
- Gas generators
Perhaps just as important as energy production, is energy storage. Because, what will you do with all your newly generated energy if you cant use it all?
The quickest/easiest way to get started with energy production/storage, is with solar generators. You can take a look at the few we have on offer here.
What is a solar generator?
A solar generator works by collecting solar energy through solar panels and then storing that energy into its built-in solar battery. An inverter then converts that energy into alternating current (AC power) before it is released for use in home appliances and other electronical devices. When combined, these three components make a fully functioning solar generator.
How does a solar generator work?
Solar generators work by integrating a solar panel, charge controller, a battery system and an inverter into a compact system that is able to convert solar energy into a useable electrical current.
You can learn more about solar generators on this article here.
How can we prevent rolling blackouts?
Most of the time, scheduled rolling blackouts are out of our hands as the public. However, the easiest way for you to help is by reducing your energy demand.
You can do this by:
- Perform energy-demanding tasks during off-peak hours.
- Unplug appliances and electronics that aren’t in use.
- Take steps to improve your home’s energy efficiency (think EnergyStar appliances).
- Invest in smart home technology such as smart thermostats.
For millions of people across the world, rolling blackouts are a frequent occurrence, sometimes happening on the daily.
The best way you or anyone can prepare for them, is through energy self sufficiency.
If you are serious about generating/offsetting 100% of your energy, then a rooftop solar system is recommended. However, if you only aim to combat the rolling blackouts as they occur, a solar generator may be your cheapest most reliable option to date.
We recommend this package to combat rolling blackouts.