||05-11-2013 12:48 PM
I've seen this here where I live twice in 15 years, and at least twice or three times at work nearby which seems to be on a different circuit than my house (their power can be off mine is on) I think the first time a car hit a power pole breaking it in half and the can on top blew up, another time a can outside on the pole blew up and we lost 1 leg of our power- it was caused by an electrician running a new line in the basement- he blew the can!
Supposedly oncea squirrel got fried in the utility company's transformer structure that sits on a small lot and is fenced in with barbed wire topped fencing, I remember they had to replace one of the transformers or something around then.
However it happened, the result at work was 1/3rd of our lights and machines shut off, any anything that uses 3 ph power had to be turned off for sure.
At the house, I think during a big winter storm with alot of wind and snow it was a little different in that the power was there, but I was getting 60 volts instead of 120, and get this- the only way I knew anything was wrong was my monitor's picture started looking grainy, and at first I thought it was going bad, then I noticed the incandescent light bulb in the other room behind me was only glowing faintly- the CFL's in the kitchen where my desk is all burned with the same light and showed no difference, at least none that I noticed.
It was only because of that incandescent bulb that I immediately realized I was not getting the voltage and I jumped up and pulled the plug for the fridge out of the socket and shut down my computers and the CFL lights.
The CFL's will run on 60 volts obviously since they did, but they won't start up on 60 volts, but in any event, had I not been aware of the loss of voltage, it could have seriously damaged the fridge, computers and CFL's since this condition of low voltage persisted for 15-30 minutes if I rememebr right.
I had enough time to call the utility and tell then after I got my VOM out and measured only 60 volts at the wall socket, so it could have been a half hour or longer this was going on.
As to what someone can do about it, not much, if you are at work or asleep when something like this happens, you are pretty much screwed, if you happen to be home and it happens, you definitely want to shut everything off.
I am gradually changing to LED bulbs, they are dimmable, the CFL's I've had are not, which means now if I were to see that 60 volt condition again, the LED bulbs would DIM and immediately alert me to the problem and that's a nice side bonus of those.