A burnout, in electrical terms, is a drop in voltage across an electricity supply system. It can be spontaneous (unintentional) caused by disturbances in the grid, or intentionally caused during emergencies when the load needs to be reduced in order to prevent blackouts. The lower voltage causes lights to dim, leading to the name “burn out”.

Spontaneous burnouts usually cause voltage to drop for only a short period, while the intentional ones can have effects lasting anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

Effects of a Burnout

A burnout can prevent some electrical devices from getting harmed by power loads, but others can actually get damaged severely. Here are some facts that you should be aware of:

  • Power consumption is exponentially linked with voltage, so even small voltage drops can reduce heat output substantially. This can be observed in incandescent bulbs which become dimmer as voltage drops. The lower voltage during a burnout can, in this manner, protect devices from overheating.
  • In devices like some commutated electric motors, the drop in voltage lowers the back-EMF. This can increase the current drawn by the motor and create more heat.
  • Induction motors also heat up when they are operated on lower voltage and motors with insufficient cooling can eventually get damaged by overheating.
  • Electrical circuits with unregulated direct current supply continue feeding low voltage to all the connected appliances, increasing the chances of burnout. Regulated circuits protect appliances by constantly supplying the appropriate output voltage.
  • In case the burnout is severe, the voltage drop is higher than drop-out limit and the output voltage reduces. This creates a lot of ripple in electricity output.
  • Higher current draw to boost voltage produces more heat in the power supply and can eventually lead to total malfunction.

How to Avoid Electrical Burnout

There are a number of things you can do to avoid damage to your appliances from electrical burnout. Apart from grid-linked burnouts, voltage fluctuations can also occur from problems in the building’s basic electrical wiring. One of the first steps is to look at the electrical wiring diagram if you have it.

Check the entire wiring for potential problems, like:

  • Current leaks
  • Wires with cracked insulation
  • Short circuits
  • Loose connections

Many faults that can increase the likelihood of electrical burnout also pose a significant safety hazard, so electrical repair work should be taken care of immediately. This helps you avoid burned out appliances and increase safety. Working around electricity is very dangerous, so you should seek out electrical services providers, especially if you’re dealing with damaged insulation.

Correct Switching Mechanism to Avoid Burnout

There are certain factors that are outside the abilities of most domestic electricians, like faulty wiring within an appliance, but there are some steps you can take to reduce the chances of burnout. One very effective way is installing switch mechanisms that are designed to protect against electrical burnout.

These switching mechanisms are highly developed devices, and there is a wide variety of protectors, which have all proven to be very effective in preventing burnout. These include:

  • Starter switches
  • Contactors
  • Thermostats
  • Relay switches, and many others

Most of them have contacts constructed of copper and bakelite, or porcelain components, which are extremely effective at preventing electrical burnout. In fact, a major part of their design philosophy is dedicated to ways that will be effective at avoiding burnouts.

Stabilizer Switches

Stabilizer switches are another excellent option for wiring systems in homes and offices. Here’s how they work:

  • Stabilizer switches are designed to increase the current draw and boost output voltage, to compensate for lower input voltage automatically
  • When the voltage is too low for the stabilizer to boost, a cutout automatically switches off the output completely
  • These devices feature heavy-duty construction, which is designed to bear the brunt of low voltage operation, thereby keeping appliances safe from burnout

There is a significant difference between over-heating protection devices like thermostats, and burnout preventers like stabilizer switches. The former disconnects power only once the appliance heats up more than normal operating temperature, while the latter prevents heating from low voltage in the first place, which reduces the chances of damage.