How to Fix Flickering and Why Use Dimmable LED Flash
Flickering LED lights may be incredibly unpleasant. The fact that practically everyone has seen a flickering light at least once or twice at some point is also rather frequent. When converting from conventional incandescent or halogen bulbs to contemporary, energy-efficient LED bulbs and connecting with a dimmer switch, a dimmable LED flash typically occurs.
It might be annoying to discover that the just-installed LEDs are flashing when you try to lower the LED lights. It doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, if anything, it’s worse because the conventional lights were always simply working properly and never giving you any flickering issues. Without a dimmer, LED flickering can also be caused by other technological factors. Even if your dimmable LEDs are fully off, they could unexpectedly start to flash.
We’ll show you how to diagnose every potential reason why LED lights are flickering in this post, along with solutions.
How Flickering Affects Your Health
A flicker can be either a visible flicker that can be seen with the naked eye or an unseen flicker that is there but moves too quickly to be seen. Both types of flashing can be detrimental and result in health problems such as migraines, epileptic seizures, weariness, headaches, dizziness, and eyestrain. Even the presence of visual flicker might be unsettling.
What Leads to LED Flickering
LED bulbs utilize an electronic driver to turn power directly into the light, as opposed to conventional incandescent/halogen lights, which require a filament to first convert electricity into heat and then light. Because they are directly influenced and very sensitive to voltage changes, LEDs are the ones most prone to flicker. Because they become heated to glow, incandescent lights also have a tendency to not flicker. It takes time for it to heat up and cool down since it happens gradually.
LEDs are incredibly dependable and high-quality. Voltage fluctuation is still the major cause of LED flickering, despite the fact that modern LED bulbs have made significant improvements to better regulate voltage variations.
As a result, voltage variations are virtually always the root cause of an LED light flickering or flashing. The use of a dimmer switch is one of the most prevalent and important reasons among all plausible ones. Therefore, in the parts that follow, we’ll mostly tackle LED flickering issues with or without dimmer control.
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LED Fluctuation Without a Dimmer
Your LED light may begin to flicker and flash after switching to an LED bulb or replacing a damaged LED bulb with a new one if the old light is functioning normally without flickering. As was already said, LEDs are susceptible to voltage changes, and practically all LED flickering has some connection to voltage changes.
Without employing a dimmer, the following are all plausible reasons for LED flickering:
One of the most frequent causes of your LED flickering is a loose connection in the circuit. The loose connection may be caused by loose wiring, broken wiring, corroded wiring, old wiring, or wiring that was installed incorrectly. Anywhere in your home, including behind wall switches, light fixtures, circuit breakers, worn connectors, and wires tucked away in walls, it can occur.
Always start by ruling out the easiest and most obvious possibilities. By firmly screwing your bulb into the socket, you may be able to solve the problem quickly. Call a qualified electrician to examine the wiring in your home if the problem persists and cannot be easily located.
LED Fluctuation Using a Transformer
It’s likely that an incompatible transformer is to blame for your LED’s flickering if you’re utilizing low-voltage LED lights with it. The current transformer may be an electronic incandescent or halogen transformer but it is not specifically made for LEDs. Additionally, the present transformer can have a high minimum load requirement that low-watt LED bulbs cannot reach yet is suitable for loading a halogen lamp effectively.
In any case, to avoid LED flickering when using low-voltage lights with a transformer, make sure the transformer is appropriate for LEB bulbs.
Large Appliances’ Inrush Current
The inrush switch-on surge current may cause the LED in the same circuit to flicker when you turn on big, high-wattage equipment like an air conditioner, washer, or corded vacuum. When you turn on a major appliance, it’s often not a huge deal to worry if an LED bulb periodically flickers for a little period of time.
By turning each high-wattage appliance on individually to observe which one causes the flickering, you can identify the offending unit. Change the high-wattage big gadget to a smaller one, or contact a certified electrician to upgrade the cables or repair the breaker.
After the huge appliance has been operating for a while and the LED light is still flickering, you may have a circuit overload, which means you are running too many loads concurrently on the circuit. Alternatively, one of the huge appliances may be broken, which would explain the circuit’s flashing LED light. If the flickering cannot be resolved by removing some appliances, contact a licensed electrician to resolve the circuit overload issue.
LED flickering may be brought on by voltage fluctuations, which may also make the issue worsen with time. Voltage fluctuations can be brought on by corroded or loose connections inside the home, powerlines, overloaded circuits, or cables with tiny conductors.
The voltage fluctuations may originate from outside your home if you witness LEDs flickering across the entire structure. Your main electrical service panel, main service cable, meter connection, or breaker box can be the source of the voltage fluctuation issue. If the local utility company or power grid is maintaining the energy or if there is poor weather, it can also come from there.
You can infer you have a voltage fluctuation issue if the flashing continues and grows worse. If you are comfortable working with electricity, you may track the voltage fluctuation to identify the problem or, better yet, seek the assistance of a certified electrician.
Why do LEDs flicker even when the lights are out, you may be thinking. Usually, residual electricity is to blame. Even when the switch is turned off, the circuit continues to have energy, and the remaining current flows to the lightbulb. Despite not being sufficient to make the LED bulb glow continuously, the slight leakage current can still make the LED flicker and flash because LEDs only require and use a tiny amount of power.
The ground should typically receive any leftover electricity instead of the light. What then may leave the LED bulb with residual electricity? There are several potential causes:
There is a chance that the current might be induced to other wires owing to electromagnetic induction if the wires behind the switch are tightly packed. Depending on the generated current, LEDs could flash.
The remaining current in the circuit that goes to the LED may cause it to flicker if the wiring behind the switch is improper or flawed.
Current Leakage From the Switch
The little amount of leakage current travels to the LED bulb and causes it to flicker since most solid-state switches (TRIAC) need a minimum load or holding current to stay on.
The leakage current may also originate from these switches’ capacitors, or if the switch’s ground wire is improperly connected, the residual current may continue to travel through the circuit and reach the LED bulb.
Utilizing Smart Switches
Among all the aforementioned potential reasons, utilizing a switch with additional smart features, such as a dimmer, motion sensor, WiFi-controlled switch, or a switch with an indicator light or night light, is the most frequent item that results in residual electricity. Even when the switch is in the off position, these smart switches will always require their own standby power source.
Most of these smart switches use the ground wire to complete the circuit instead of the neutral wire since most older homes lack a neutral wire in the wall switch box. Thus, even when they are off, these smart switches continue to use energy. The minimal standby power is sufficient for the current leakage to cause an LED to blink.
How can residual electricity-induced LED flickering be fixed?
Utilize an intelligent switch with a neutral wire.
If you have a neutral wire available in your wall switch, you can use a neutral wire-required smart switch. In this case, the ground wire is only used for earthing, so the leakage/residual current will go to the ground, not to your bulb. If you don’t have a neutral wire and have to use a ground wire smart switch, upgrade your smart switch to a better quality one that is specially designed for LEDs.
Include a bypass capacitor.
In order to prevent the residual current from reaching the load (such as your LED bulbs, etc.), one simple, the universal fix is to add a bypass capacitor to the load. The Lutron LUT-MLC is an illustration of a bypass capacitor.
Add a small nightlight or halogen lamp.
You can quickly fix the issue by connecting a small-watt incandescent, halogen, or night light in parallel with the LED bulbs, much like the bypass capacitor technique. There is little to no resistance in a cool, unlit incandescent bulb, which creates a path for leakage current to avoid LEDs. Additionally, the additional incandescent can function as an additional minimal load to aid LED stability.
The LED may flash as a result of a malfunctioning, defective, or nearly-expired LED lamp. The internal parts, including the driver, capacitor, and other electronics, might develop problems. After being turned on for a while, if the LED lights start to flicker, it’s probable the LED lamp is broken. It’s time to swap it out for a fresh light.
Defective LED bulb
LED lights are often very constant and dependable. The least likely scenario is that the bulb is defective. But don’t ignore the cause just because it’s uncommon. See whether switching to a different functioning bulb will fix the problem.
Dimmable LEDs That Flicker
Most LED flickering problems are caused by dimmable LEDs that flash or flicker when utilized with a dimmer switch. As was said above, there might be general explanations for dimmable LED flickering, but some of these causes are especially connected to the operation of a dimmer switch.
To start, make sure your LED bulb can be dimmed. You may be attempting to dim an LED bulb that is not dimmable, which is a typical cause of LED lights flashing. Unlike incandescent lights, which produce light by heating and may be muted naturally, LED bulbs use a semiconductor to create light in a different method, albeit not all LED bulbs are dimmable.
Make sure an LED light can be dimmed on the package or in the product description before you buy one. It may result in glitches like buzzing or humming noises, flickering, strobing, or flashing, or light that flickers or glows even when the light is already off, commonly known as “Ghosting,” if you attempt to lower a non-dimmable led using a dimmer.
Even if the dimmer switch is incompatible with LED bulbs, a dimmable LED may still flash. Most older dimmers use cutting-edge technology, have a high minimal load, and are made to work with incandescent and halogen lamps. Because leading-edge type dimmers are not completely ideal for LEDs, if you use an outdated or leading-edge dimmer with a dimmable LED light, the LED may flicker and make a buzzing sound. LED doesn’t have enough resistive load to make the previous dimmer function properly.
You must get a dimmer switch that is compatible with LEDs and can handle low-wattage LED lamps. While certain LEDs might operate best when paired with a leading-edge dimmer, they are often trailing-edge dimmers. It might be challenging to choose what kind of dimmer switch works best with LED lights because there are so many different types and how they differ from one another. Therefore, it’s advisable to find out what kind of dimmer switch the dimmable LED you purchased needs first.
The ideal situation is when LED lights and dimmer switches are compatible with one another. Manufacturers of dimmer switches frequently include a list of suggested compatible bulbs so that consumers may select bulbs from the list to prevent LED flicker.
Alternately, you may choose a universal dimmer that supports dimmable LED, CFL, and incandescent lights as well as leading edge and trailing edge modes. To stop lights from flickering, a universal dimmer switch will often offer a broad range and smooth dimming.
Every dimmer has a wattage rating, and those rates vary depending on the kind of load. The most popular ratings, for instance, are 150W for LED or CFL and 600W and 1000W for incandescent. Your dimmer is overloaded and will produce LED flickering if you overload the circuit with too many lights that are outside of its maximum range.
De-rating the ratings to around 70–80% when choosing a dimmer switch keeps it safe from overloaded. When using a dimmer switch with many switches ganged together, you must de-rate the rating since it makes it impossible for the produced heat to be released, which reduces the rating range.
Simply take off a few of the LEDs from the circuit or replace the existing dimmer switch with a new one that has a higher rating and can handle the load to stop the flickering.
Low Lighting Level
When you reduce LED lights to lower light levels, such as below 50%, LED flickering is more common. For dimmable bulbs, various manufacturers use different load levels. Some LED and CFL lights have a 10% dimming range. Others are able to dim much more subtly and without any buzzing or flickering. In contrast, some LED cannot dim down so far because they need a greater low-end level. Therefore, if the LED cannot be dimmed down to that level, it may flicker when the dimmer switch is set to the lowest light level.
You can fix this by adjusting the bottom end of the dimmer’s range to cut down on flicker. The low-end load needs to be fine-tuned until the LED becomes steady and won’t flicker, which requires turning the dimmer switch all the way down to the lowest light level. To get specific instructions, look for low-end trim or minimal light level adjustment in your dimmer switches’ user manual.
Using a Neutral Wire with a Dimmer
Using a neutral-required dimmer switch can eliminate the leaking holding current that causes the LED to flicker when the switch is switched off, as was already mentioned above. If a dimmer switch is installed using ground wire, a tiny amount of current will leak into the LED and could cause flickering.
Upgrading to New Fixtures or Bulbs
Sometimes replacing the cheap light with a new one is the only way to stop a dimmable LED from flashing. Nothing can effectively stop a cheaply constructed LED from flickering.
How to Diagnose and Correct Flickering LED Lights
A step-by-step troubleshooting procedure is helpful to assist you quickly identify the reason for a flickering dimmable LED light even if we have covered the solutions to each of the causes in the aforementioned sections.
- Verify the LED bulb that is flickering. Test the flickering bulb in various areas of your home, tighten the current one, or test it with fresh, functional ones.
- Verify the LED bulb that is flickering. Change it out for a fresh, functional LED light. If an LED bulb is to blame, you can further investigate by looking for its capacitor or drivers as those are the likely possibilities.
- Use a dimmer, if so. Do the dimmer and LED work well together? Can the LED be dimmed?
- Look under the bulb or the wall switch for any easily accessible loose wire.
- Do some actions, such as turning on a big appliance, cause flickering?
- Does it just happen with one or two isolated lights? Do LED flashes happen infrequently? Or do all of the house’s lights flicker?
Occasionally, LED lights will flicker.
It’s challenging to fix when some of your LED lights just sometimes flicker since it’s difficult to identify the obvious culprits. If replacing the flickering lights with new ones that work or testing the flickering lights in different parts of your home doesn’t resolve the issue, the voltage fluctuations are most likely to blame. These fluctuations can be caused by a dimmer, transformer, power supply, or a number of other things. To determine the true cause, speak with an electrician.
Flickering LED Lights in Isolation
If only a few isolated LED lights are flashing or flickering, you can replace the problematic lamps with functional ones or test them in different circuits. After several tries and errors, the causes are simple to rule out.
Flickering LED lights throughout the entire house
Voltage variations are frequently to blame for flickering lights across the entire house. As mentioned above, it may be high-load appliances turning on, but the problem may also be entirely external to your homes, such as voltage fluctuations caused by the electrical grid, inclement weather, or even your neighbor using the same shared transformer.
Do Flickering LED Lights Pose a Risk?
Yes, LED lights that flicker can be harmful. Leading causes of an electrical fire include common flickering reasons like faulty wiring or circuit overload. Furthermore, faulty wiring may deteriorate with time. Before it’s too late, you should immediately get assistance from a qualified electrician if you see the flickering becoming obvious, progressively worse.
Additionally, if the flickering only occurs occasionally or can be resolved by installing new bulbs or lights, there is no need to worry.
Do LED Lights Blink Before Burning Out?
Before they burn out, the majority of the LEDs will fade or become dark, and certain LEDs may have sporadic on-and-off periods. Although most LEDs do not appear to flicker before they burn out, a small number of them occasionally do, usually as a result of overheating.