Summer Blackouts: What You Should Know And How To Prepare Your Business

If your business or organization has ever experienced power issues, then you know the havoc it can cause to your business' productivity. Learn what you can do about it in this post. (6-minute read).

According to Eaton's blackout tracker, there are more network outages in June, July and August than any other months of the year. Every summer, an average of nearly 4 million people are affected by blackouts that collectively encompass almost 30,000 hours—that’s 125 days!

And, the number of summer blackouts is actually increasing.

Here's what you should know about summer blackouts and how your business can avoid costly disruption due to network outages. 

Blackout vs Brownout, What's The Difference? 

A brownout is a temporary interruption or reduction in system capacity. The term "brownout" comes from the dimming of incandescent lighting when voltage sags. If you've ever seen lights flickering during a storm, you've experienced a brownout. 

Brownouts can damage computers and printers because these devices are created to operate at specific voltages--so sudden fluctuations in power can hurt them. 

Surge protectors are your best defense against a brownout. You should also switch off any devices that are on while a brownout is occurring. 

Because brownouts are temporary, they usually don't cause the type of costly downtime associated with blackouts. However, sometimes a brownout can be a warning that a blackout is coming. 

A blackout is a complete loss of power and can happen without warning for an extended period of time. 

Summer Blackouts How To Prepare Your Business

Many Summer Events Can Cause Blackouts

Heat waves, wild fires, hurricanes, and other severe storms that cause flooding are just a few of the extreme weather events that are responsible for widespread network blackouts. 

Recent climate changes have caused several record-breaking weather events in the past five years. We are now averaging well over 400 weather-related outages per season. 

Meanwhile, companies demand more from their power grid during summer than any other time of year. For example, as temperatures rise, air conditioning units get pushed to the max. It's not uncommon for power usage to double during the summer.  

All of our business technology is running hotter and wearing out faster than ever before. When you add the increase in weather events, and the increased activity of nesting animals like squirrels and birds--which can also contribute to blackouts by damaging network wires, you have an ideal climate for business downtime and disruption. 

Protect Your Business From Summer Blackouts

Could COVID-19 Cause More Blackouts? 

On one hand, the rise of remote work and the temporary shutdown of some factories and offices because of COVID-19 has caused a drop in corporate energy use. 

However, as many workers attempt to keep pace with the productivity and energy use that they used at the office, remote residential networks can get pushed to the point of meltdown. Many home networks just aren't built to handle commercial energy demands.

And this current network threat isn't just to the suburbs.

Even before the redistribution of work from COVID-19, major metropolitan networks in New York and California experienced widespread blackouts last year. In response, residents were asked to turn off lights and reduce air conditioning use to conserve power. 

How to Avoid Costly Network downtime.

A network is affected by two main factors: time of use and location

Our energy grid is actually much more fragile than most people think. Networks depend upon natural cycles of downtime in order to cool down and recover. With people at home all day, a network doesn’t have enough time to cool down, so heat continues to build in the wires, which spreads to the transformers and ultimately the substations. As local energy demand and network usage increases day after day, the chance of blackouts will increase as well. 

Most experts believe at least some of the areas that are experiencing major surges of COVID-19 and shelter in place orders, will experience major network outages in the next few months. 

According to Global Workplace Analytics, 3.6% of US workers worked more than half their time from home before COVID-19. Currently, that number is as high as 56%.

How Can You Protect Your Business From Blackouts?

The best thing you can do to protect your business infrastructure is to make the move to a cloud-based system. 

Your business can backup its network in the cloud, so that data is not lost when a local blackout occurs. 

We also recommend moving file shares to the cloud and your Active Directory to Azure. 

You also need to have a documented recovery solution. Invest in surge protectors and include power outages in your business' continuity plan. 

Finally, hire an experienced managed service provider that can respond quickly and effectively the moment a blackout occurs. 

Downtime due to summer blackouts can be costly in several ways. They can damage hardware, destroy data, and kill productivity. 

At PTG, our expert service technicians are ready to respond immediately to any size network disruption. 

If you're worried about the vulnerability of your network infrastructure this summer and beyond, contact us today. We are happy to answer cloud questions, or even begin a full network audit

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