What outages mean for internet service and electronics

Electronics plugged into your wall outlet—including your router, modem and computer—are at risk of damage during certain outage scenarios.

Brownouts, which are coordinated reductions in power output to balance spikes in power demand—can be particularly problematic because of the unpredictable fluctuations that accompany them. Though your device might power up—and some things like light bulbs might even partially emit light—many electronics are highly sensitive to unsteady voltage because they can trigger a device to power cycle uncontrollably, causing damage.

Blackouts—a complete, widespread loss of power for an extended period of time—are subject to electrical surges and spikes, which are common in the first few moments after power is fully restored.

Electrical surges can instantly overload or short out the circuits of plugged-in electronics. It’s crucial to unplug devices during any outage event. Start with computers and external monitors, TVs, your router and modem, and don’t forget things like your microwave, electric keyboard and smart home tech.

Updated: Jun 23, 2022