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Ask the Energy Expert
Irene White

About "Ask the Energy Expert"

Irene White works in Distribution, helping ensure the quality and reliability of the electric service you receive.

Your questions on energy-related topics can be submitted anytime to our Ask the Energy Expert blog. Just click here to submit your question, and if chosen, it will be answered here

What causes my power to flicker off and on?

Our power goes off four or five times a week for a split second, just long enough to reboot the computer, shut off the dryer, and reset our digital clocks! Why does this happen?

We know that even short interruptions are an inconvenience for our customers, and we apologize for the disruptions you’ve been experiencing. In 2010, we reduced the average number of momentary interruptions by 19%, so now our average customer experiences them infrequently. Your report of several a week is extremely unusual.

Very brief power interruptions, commonly called “flickers,” are the result of a momentary disruption in the flow of electricity. They can occur if a main power line short circuits or if something, such as a tree branch or an animal, comes into contact with a power line. When this happens, the system instantly resets to protect itself from damage and to allow for the safe delivery of electricity.

In Florida, tree limbs, especially palm fronds, are among the most common causes of power outages and flickering lights. If you look around your neighborhood, you’re sure to see trees planted directly under power lines. As they grow, they’ll interfere with the power lines and cause flickers and outages. You can help ensure reliable service by planting the right tree in the right place and practicing responsible landscaping and tree maintenance in your own yard.

We’re working hard to reduce the number of flickers our customers experience. Last year alone, FPL proactively cleared the vegetation along more than 11,000 miles of power lines throughout the state to help ensure you receive reliable electric service.

Another major cause of flickers is bad weather, especially lightning. Since Florida is the lightning strike capital of the nation, dealing with this is a challenge! At our Reliability Assurance Lab, we simulate lightning strikes on our equipment to identify the best way to handle its effects and reduce the flickers it causes.

Our focus on reducing flickers is paying off and we’ll continue to work to bring you more reliable service every day.

[NOTE: Of course, if the lights in part of your home are constantly dimming or turning on and off quickly, then we recommend you contact a licensed electrician.]

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Comments [16]

Steve Thanos // July 23, 2011

Hi Dave,

Here’s what I would do to minimize your problems with power flickers.
1. Computer reboot: Get yourself a UPS (Uninterupted Power Supply) and plug your computer and its peripherals into it. You can get it in any store such as Best Buy, Office Depot, Staples or Costco. No more reboots plus the UPS will also protect your computer from power surges including those caused by nearby lightning strikes.
2. Digital clocks: you can also plug the digital clock in the computer room into the same UPS. Other rooms: replace with battery powered clocks.
3. Dryer Shutoff: restart the dryer.

Hope I’ve helped,
Steve
Semi-retired Electrical Engineer

Phil Sexton // July 23, 2011

Your answer is very informative, but doesn’t really give a customer a whole lot of assurance. In your advertisements you state that customers experience 99.98% service reliability. This number clearly does not include those brief outages that reset so many of our digital machines.

Brian // September 26, 2011

Amen Phil! I’m with you! My power “flickers” at least once every two weeks. In the past week, it has been much worse… almost every day.

misteright // June 24, 2012

My power flickers once a day at least three times a week.

Corina Walker // July 23, 2011

This regards your new online notification of power outage program. This is all well and good, but when power is out in my area (as it was yesterday), I am unable to access the internet. Consequently, the only recourse is to try to contact you via the phone, or someone else who may still have electricity, to find out when power will be restored.

HENRY MEYER // July 23, 2011

We have one of your switches on our hot water heater. I notice if I take a shower before 9AM the water is luke warm, but if I take it after 9 it is hot. Is there a way to change the time of you turning us off during the night?

Frank Rizzo // October 23, 2011

Its pobably not an issue with FPL.You probably have a timer on your water heater and the current time may not be correct.

Frank Gutcher // August 31, 2012

They would if they cared!

Val // July 23, 2011

Why not cut the fronds or take down the trees causing the problem. Other states do it.

JOHN STUDWELL // July 24, 2011

Very often when a large power using appliance starts up (ie: our central A/C) we experience a slight dimming of the lights that are on in our home at the time the appliance “kicks on”. Can you explain what might cause this?
Thank you.

alex // July 26, 2011

it could be when the AC kicks in there is a momentary lack of electricity to everything else and that would cause some elctronic components to stop and clocks to reset

Carole Miller // October 24, 2011

[NOTE: Of course, if the lights in part of your home are constantly dimming or turning on and off quickly, then we recommend you contact a licensed electrician.]

We bought a new refrigerator and the problem ceased.

Anaheim Electrical Services // November 17, 2011

Signs of poor maintenance and broken fixtures and appliances are some common problems that caused insufficient power service. You can ask a reliable person to provide an action.

misteright // June 24, 2012

My power “flickers” once a day, at least 3 times a week, for the past 3 months. Reports back from FPL have been anything from treelimbs, relays, wind, animals, you name it. Just a matter of time until a “flicker” takes out my refrigerator, A/C, computer, TV, etc. This similiar situation happened at my last residence a few blocks from here a few years ago, finally the transformer in my back yard exploded (in August of course) and it took 2 days to replace it, wrong place to be in August with no power.

B. C. Campfield // August 24, 2012

I have the same issue… except it is daily. We get a brief power interruption, just long enough to cause all my home systems, computers, clocks, TV, etc… to reboot. It is not weather related. The issue is so regular that I thought there was some power source switchover effect causing it. It is very disruptive. I really wish FPL would resolve this issue.

Deborah Mauldin // November 2, 2013

I have flickers once in awhile where i live, seems it can be scary. TV turns off, clocks, well you know

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