Power outages their causes and solutions

Power outages, causes and solutions

Power outages cause tremendous damage to computers and data in industrial, communications, and data centers that are well equipped for uninterruptible power supply. Outages at sensitive sites, while associated with power outages during severe and stormy seasons, are mainly due to transformer failures, emergency generator start-up problems, faulty cables, and other avoidable victims of poor maintenance.

Proper maintenance and repair

The batteries in these mechanical devices are not only reliable but also very expensive. Proper maintenance and repair are essential to ensure that have adequate power and extend the life of their batteries. Moreover, proper care and maintenance of these heavy industrial batteries help avoid costly repairs or replacements. It also ensures good maintenance and long life for these heavy-duty batteries. Fortunately, care and maintenance are not as complicated or problematic as many people think or believe.


When it comes to battery care, you need to know when to charge them. Heavy-duty batteries need to be up to 80 percent depleted before they can be recharged. Unlike traditional batteries, heavy-duty batteries don’t need to be recharged every day. If they are recharged when needed, they will last longer.

Fluid level

This is an important point to pay attention to when caring for batteries. With regular use, the water level will drop. If you leave it dry, the efficiency of the mechanical system will be affected. So check every five to six days to see if the water level is high enough to cover the plates of the battery. If the level drops, simply add the required amount of water. However, be careful not to exceed the specified level, as the extra space will encourage the battery to expand. Use only clear or distilled water to refill the battery.


If you notice fluid leaking from the battery, simply clean it with water and baking soda. Since acid is very conductive, it can cause your battery to discharge prematurely. To avoid this, clean the corrosion and wash the battery case thoroughly.


Excessive summer heat overloads power grids as the number of air conditioners surges, causing power outages due to load shedding or tripping of overload breakers.

During the dry season, it is common for contaminants to accumulate on power line insulators, including electrically conductive materials. The first rains and thunderstorms close power lines, causing short circuits and arcing and tripping circuit breakers. Sometimes power poles catch fire due to arcing. 

In some areas, salt is used for winter maintenance, increasing pollution from road vehicles spreading salt on the roadway. Therefore, there are more opportunities for arcing near highways and major roads. 

Trees are also a major cause of power outages in the winter. Wind and snow bring down trees. Falling trees bring down power lines. Some power lines cause short circuits and arcing between adjacent power lines or between power lines and the ground. 

microprocessor-based UPS

Until the late 1980s, year after year, the first fall storms or summer power outages were accompanied by the destruction of faulty uninterruptible power systems (UPS) and especially worn-out backup batteries. No UPS company had enough staff or enough batteries to handle all the outraged customer calls. The chaos came to an end when microprocessor-based UPS controls were introduced in the early 1990s that allowed UPS systems, including batteries, to be automatically tested by periodically running simulations of the power outage.

These exercises made it possible to detect faulty systems, correct UPS operation, and replace faulty and weak batteries. All of these preventive measures were carried out when power was still available, before the start of the severe weather season.

Battery discharging

Recent studies show that facilities equipped with uninterruptible power supply systems usually do not fail. In most cases, the power outage occurred after the UPS batteries were discharged. 

isolators and surge protectors

Similar to the initial experience with UPS systems described above, most of the power supplies studied that failed during the severe season were already defective and not operating within their design capacity. Lightning and switching voltages generated in the power system are usually attenuated and intercepted at the insulation level by line isolators and surge protectors. Healthy transformers and cables must be able to withstand these voltages, and emergency generators must be engaged when needed. 

partial discharge (PD) and infrared tomography

Proper preventive maintenance can solve the biggest problems associated with outages. Simple and inexpensive monitoring systems based on technologies such as partial discharge (PD) and infrared tomography can detect transformer defects and allow timely planning of corrective actions. Power outage modeling can detect generator startup problems. PD methods, power factor measurements, and other monitoring methods offered by meter manufacturers can warn of faulty underground cables that need to be addressed before lightning strikes. 

For example, studies of power outages show that most incidents are due to faulty equipment that fails under severe conditions. Such failures are not due to natural disasters but to human negligence and can be avoided.  Proper preventive maintenance, a regular schedule of periodic maintenance, drills, and monitoring will allow you to anticipate potential problems that can be resolved before the storm hits.

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