FPL | Flickers and Power Annoyances

Flickers and Power Annoyances

Blinking displays: Momentary power interruptions | Who turned off the lights? Power outages | Voltage variances | Sags and swells | Surges and spikes | Electrical interference | Possible causes of your power disturbance problem | Learn how to protect your business

Those annoying electric disturbances

Sometimes the only way to know you've had a power disturbance is a blinking digital display or flickering lights. Other times the image on your television or computer screen will shrink or your stereo or computer won't work. And although you may experience an occasional power outage lasting from one minute to several hours - such as during a storm - these are inconvenient.

All these power disturbance problems are caused by different events. Here's what happens:


What you can do

If you experience an outage or repeated power problems:

  • call FPL at 1-800-4OUTAGE (1-800-468-8243) or
  • visit Report Trouble to report the problem online.

Blinking displays: Flickers (momentary power interruptions)

When a digital display blinks or your lights go off for a few seconds, you're experiencing the most common power disturbance problem, a flicker, also known as a momentary power interruption. These are caused by

  • lightning striking near a power line
  • tree branches falling and small animals contacting equipment
  • vehicles hitting power poles
  • sea spray coating the power lines or
  • damage to underground electrical equipment

Though inconvenient, flickers are generally harmless and resolve themselves quickly.

An example would be when a branch or animal makes contact with a line:

  • FPL's system automatically switches electricity off and gives the animal or trees a chance to clear the line to eliminate the problem.
  • Once this problem clears, usually in seconds, FPL's electrical system resets itself.
  • By automatically clearing the problem that causes the interruption, FPL avoids longer power outages that are more inconvenient to you.

Who turned off the lights? Power outages

A loss of electricity for more than one minute is considered a power outage. Some outages are planned by FPL for maintaining its equipment and, when that happens, FPL makes every effort to notify you in advance. More often, these outages are caused by

  • Lightning strikes
  • Equipment damage from vehicle accidents
  • construction crews or moisture digging into electrical cables and lines.
  • failure of lines to automatically reset when trees or animals make contact.

Voltage variances

Electronic equipment may be damaged by fluctuations in voltage that can be caused by

  • lightning
  • poor wiring and grounding
  • overloaded circuits
  • normal operation of electronic devices, such as
    • computers
    • copy machines and
    • fax machines
  • starting and stopping equipment, such as
    • industrial motors
    • heating and cooling equipment
    • refrigerators and
    • elevators
  • deterioration of aging electrical equipment and
  • upgraded equipment that is not compatible with the existing transformer or electrical system.

While most fluctuations are no more than nuisances, some can

  • harm equipment
  • damage insulation and wiring or
  • cause you to lose computer data.

Sags and swells

When lights flicker, air conditioning shuts on and off, or television and computer monitor images shrink, you're probably experiencing a voltage sag or swell. These last briefly and occur when voltage rises above or below what normally reaches your business.

Generally, the flickering and computer problems are annoying but cause no equipment damage.

Surges and spikes

Lightning strikes, electrical motors turning on and off, and construction work nearby may cause the electricity at your business to jump, due to a brief, additional burden on the electrical system.

Though they usually last for much less than a second, spikes and surges are often to blame for destroying sensitive electronic equipment.

Electrical interference

Electrical interference can be caused by high frequency electromagnetic signals, which often result from

  • loose connections
  • bad wiring or
  • problems with electrical equipment in your business.

These interfere with

  • televisions
  • radios
  • computers
  • credit approval systems and
  • cordless phones.

An example would be static, or other problems, on your cordless telephone when your copier or other equipment is running.
Learn more about solving electrical interferences.

Possible causes of your power disturbance problem


Possible Causes

Lights flickering

Sag or Swell
Momentary Power Interruption

Electronic equipment damaged

Surge or Spike

Air conditioning is interrupted

Sag or Swell
Momentary Power Interruption

Computer or television monitor images shrink


Blinking digital display

Momentary Power Interruption

Computer turns on and off

Momentary Power Interruption

Electricity in the entire home is off

Power Outage

Static on telephone, television, and radio

Electrical Interference

* Note: Be aware that these symptoms can also be caused by other problems not related to electric problems.

Learn how to protect your business

FPL understands how disruptive power disturbances can be, especially when you experience them often. To learn how to protect your business and electronic equipment from the effects of these power interruptions, visit