Do I Need To Unplug My Refrigerator After A Brownout?

We are no strangers to brownouts brought about by downed power lines due to the number of typhoons that hit the Philippines every year. While we get excited every time the power comes back on, did you know that it can do severe damage to your refrigerator if you did not unplug it beforehand?

The flow of electricity after a brownout is not yet stable – hence it can either cause power surges or low voltage fluctuations. These can wreak havoc on your refrigerator, which is why it is recommended to unplug it the moment a brownout happens.

In this article, we will go through how a brownout affects your refrigerator, why you need to unplug it, and the devices that we can use to protect our fridges after a power outage.

Note: in other countries, low voltage fluctuations are usually known as “brownouts”. However, in the Philippines, brownouts and blackouts/power outages have the same meaning.

Why you need to unplug your refrigerator during a brownout

All appliances stop working during a brownout. However, the damage to your appliances doesn’t occur when the power goes out, but when the power goes back online.

The energy that comes immediately after a brownout can be unstable; the voltage might be too high or too low. When the voltage is too high, it can cause a power surge; too low, then a power sag will occur. Both are bad news for your refrigerator.

Power surge

Power surge

A power surge is a short-duration (3 nanoseconds) oversupply of voltage that increases the voltage significantly above the standard level.

Power sag

A power sag (low voltage fluctuation) is a deficiency in voltage that decreases the voltage significantly below the standard level.

Power surges can not only destroy your refrigerator, but it can also start an electrical fire. Models with microprocessors and inverter boards are especially susceptible to damage as strong power surges can fry these parts and even melt some of the plastic parts away.

Meanwhile, a power sag can stall your refrigerator’s compressor. However, power will still be supplied to it, hence the compressor will produce heat even though it’s not working. If this heat continues to build up, it can melt the insulation wires and other parts of your refrigerator, making them less efficient in the long run.

The easiest way to avoid this problem is by cutting off the electricity that is coming to your fridge; the easiest way to do that is to unplug your refrigerator immediately after a brownout happens.

How long until you can plug your refrigerator back in after a brownout

It is advised that you should begin plugging in your refrigerator 5 – 10 minutes after the power comes back on. This allows sufficient time for the voltage to stabilize.

You should also run your refrigerator at max settings for at least 2 hours while it is empty to let its temperature catch up to speed.

Recommendation: buy a Power on Delay for your refrigerator

power on delay for appliance

Power on Delay is a device that protects your refrigerator from the effects of voltage fluctuations after a brownout.

After a power outage, it delays the incoming electrical current for 3-5 minutes to ensure that the power stabilizes before it reaches the appliance.

This removes the hassle of plugging and unplugging your refrigerator every time a power interruption happens.


To summarize: yes, you should unplug your refrigerator after a brownout, and plug it back in 5-10 minutes once the power is restored. You can also make things easier for you by buying a power on delay device for your refrigerator.


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