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Irene White

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

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What causes my power to flicker off and on?

By Irene White

Asked on: June 30, 2011 by Dave E., Englewood

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 [19]

  1. Ric Gay

    Oh so true for me also here in Haverhill. This has been going on for over 10 years in my home! I've had several electricians here that spent hours going over my home electrical system. I'm not a bad electrician myself. I was told several times that the old transformers hanging on the poles should be replace. These big ole cans that FPL doesn't want to replace because it costs them. They would rather charge us more money, e.g. $10. a month for protection against flickers etc. They should install these devices for free or mount them on their poles, but oh no, they would rather try to convince us that they are doing oh-so-much work to keep our bills low. Yeah, right.

  2. Lisa

    Our power also flickers throughout the week. We live in PSL near Darwin. It's very frustrating and I don't understand why it can't be fixed. We've lost some crockpot meals and tons of resetting clock time due to the issue. It happens during storms and then just randomly on nice days.

  3. BJ

    Flickering electricity occurs about every one to two weeks at our home. The explanation above from Ms White and what we can do about it does not hold for our community, with underground utilities. We lost our cook top circuit board about once a year for 4 years, blamed by the technician on the constant flickering. And it happens mostly in clear weather, many times over night. A wine cooler, on a different circuit, resets to its coldest temperature every time it occurs. We just came back from a two week vacation and it was reset (it is even on a surge protector). I too question the 99+% reliability FP&L advertises.

  4. Deborah Mauldin

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

  5. Frank Gutcher

    They would if they cared!

  6. B. C. Campfield

    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.

  7. misteright

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

  8. misteright

    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.

  9. Anaheim Electrical Services

    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.

  10. Carole Miller

    [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.

  11. Frank Rizzo

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

  12. Brian

    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.

  13. alex

    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


    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.

  15. Val

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


    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?

  17. Corina Walker

    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.

  18. Phil Sexton

    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.

  19. Steve Thanos

    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


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