How do I cause a power failure

Power failure - who is liable in the event of damage?

A stable power grid is the rule, but every now and then it happens: a power failure. If, in the best case, it paralyzes households for just a few minutes, it can take several hours under unfortunate circumstances. How should you react in such a situation? Can you take precautions to prevent damage to technical equipment, for example? And if there is damage anyway, who pays for it?


Power failure - who is liable for damage?


Depending on the duration and cause of the power failure, it can have unpleasant consequences. In the worst case, damage of a material and financial nature occurs, such as damage to household appliances or entertainment technology. Aquarium owners even have to fear for the life of their fish in the event of a prolonged power failure: Failed pumps can pose a serious risk to the animals.

Basically, the disruption or failure must have resulted in damage of at least 30 euros before damage compensation can even be claimed. Liability can include material and therefore financial as well as health consequences.

Who is liable in such situations depends on the cause of the power failure. Possible scenarios are:

  • Power failure due to overvoltage: If the power supply is interrupted due to an overvoltage in the network, the network operator may be liable for any damage caused. However, in such a case, a deductible of 500 euros must be deducted from the damage amount.
  • Power failure due to malfunctions: In the event of malfunctions and power outages that were not caused by the network operator as a result of willful intent or gross negligence, the amount of damages is limited to 5,000 euros per connection user. This is what the Low Voltage Connection Ordinance specifies. In addition, the total amount that a network operator would have to pay out to all affected connection users in the event of such damage is also limited. Such a case would be, for example, if an old cable causes disturbances in the network.
  • Power failure due to lightning strike: The network operator is not liable in the event of force majeure, such as a lightning strike. If the insurance cover is adequate, the damage can be claimed from the insurance company.

What to do in the event of a power failure?


If you suddenly run out of electricity in places at home, you should first try to find out why. In the fuse box you can see whether any fuses have blown. Possible reasons for this are defective devices, overload due to an excessive number of simultaneously operated devices or defects in the fuse box.

If only one fuse has actually blown, check the cause and fix it if you can. Then you can flip the circuit breaker again and thus prevent damage. If in doubt, you should call an electrician.

If the entire apartment, the entire house or even the surrounding area is affected, it stands to reason that there is nothing you can do about the power failure at the moment. However, you should switch off all connected devices, unplug them and, as a precaution, note which devices were connected to the mains at the time of the failure.

Once the power supply has been restored, you should gradually reconnect and check all devices. If you find that one of them no longer works or no longer works properly, you should document this. This increases your chances of getting compensation. You should also keep the defective device in case it should be presented to an expert.


How can devices be protected from damage as a preventive measure?


There are some electronic devices in use at home - from laptops and PCs to televisions, consoles and radios to fully automatic coffee machines and refrigerators. Switching off or in standby mode is not enough for effective protection against damage from overvoltage. Socket strips with a switch for switching on and interrupting the power supply also provide insufficient protection against overvoltage damage. If a lightning strike causes a strong overvoltage in the network, the cables can also bridge the circuit. Only the following options offer effective protection:

  1. Unplug the devices
  2. Remove fuses
  3. Insert overvoltage protection strips

The latter can be bought in specialist shops and look like conventional socket strips. However, they offer effective protection against overvoltage.


Does the insurance pay for damage?


For example, homeowners can insure themselves against overvoltage damage as part of their building insurance. When such insurance pays for any damage that has occurred depends on the contract. For example, some insurance companies only pay for induction damage if a lightning rod was installed. In addition, damage to household appliances in the event of a power failure can also be insured via the household contents insurance.