Flickering in terms of light means rapid blinking of the light due to its power state, which can further strain our eyes and mind. If you are having issues with dimmable LED lights, this article can help you.
A dimmable LED light can flicker due to an incompatible dimmer switch, wire issues, loose connections, voltage fluctuation, or cheap LEDs. To fix the issue, use a compatible dimmer, buy good-quality light, fix loose connections, and hire a professional for more significant issues.
LED dimmable lights can be tricky, and there is no guarantee that a lamp can work correctly with a dimmer. In this article, we shall discuss all the reasons in detail and what steps you can take to correct the problem and prevent further flickering.
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Understanding the causes of LED flicker
There could be multiple reasons behind a flickering LED dimmable light:
Compatibility issues between the LED lights and dimmer switches
Dimmer incompatibility is the common cause behind LED flickering.
LED lights have been popular in recent times. Before this, these lights were incandescent light bulbs.
The lights need the energy to make heat which further creates light.
The old lights use a different system than the LED lights.
The LED lights work in a binary on-and-off state.
All dimmer switches are not meant for all LED dimmer lights.
The old dimmers were designed for incandescent light bulbs. These old dimmers change the current level given to the light bulb.
Installing old dimmers with halogen fixtures on the LED lights will make the lights flicker.
It will also flicker if you use dimmers for non-dimmable LED lights, reduce their lifespan, and disrupt their functionality.
The bulb may fit the socket, but the light won’t work properly.
Effect of power supply fluctuations on the LED flicker
If your dimmable LED light is flickering, it could be because your region’s power supply utility company is facing issues.
You cannot do anything here as it is a problem with the utility service.
If the power supply fluctuates in the utility service, every light will flicker.
Talk to your neighbors to confirm the problem.
If it occurs only in your house, there are other reasons, like voltage or power grid fluctuations. Voltage fluctuations can happen in various scenarios.
Your LED may flicker if the incoming voltage is fluctuating. The fluctuation happens in various circumstances, like wire issues or sudden overload.
Fluctuations in the power grid will also make your dimmable LED lights flicker.
A surge in the wattage
If you connect a high-power appliance with your LED light in the same circuit, your light will flicker due to repeated surges.
Over time, the surges will wear out the LED drivers and cause issues.
The minimum load of the dimmer is not met.
Maximum dimmer switches have a minimum load of 40 watts.
If the load is not met, your dimmer LED may flicker, which will be noticeable at a lower level.
Cheap dimmable LEDs
Cheap dimmable LED lights have a shorter lifespan.
It will flicker every time you turn it on or after a few weeks of usage.
It happens due to the inferior components.
If you go for low-budget lights, you lose the light quality.
As a result, you have to spend money to buy the lights repeatedly.
Low-quality LED lights
LED bulbs last longer, but that does not make them indestructible.
Flickering depends on the type of current your LED light needs.
A proper power supply allows you to drive the LED lights safely.
The LED lights need a direct current or DC instead of the alternating current.
Though the light industry knows their power supply as LED transformers, they are more than just transformers.
The LED drivers can step down the voltage and convert the current from the main alternating current to the direct current.
A low-quality LED driver with no frills will not give constant current.
It will only convert the alternating current to a direct current.
Such a basic power supply conversion will provide an oscillating current, albeit one that will double the input-voltage frequency.
It will lead to nearly 50 to 100 flickers per second.
Loose bulb or circuit connections
If your dimmable LED is flickering, the bulb or the circuit might be loose.
Due to a loose circuit or bulb fix, the current flowing into the light will get interrupted at the loose points, causing them to flicker often.
If the bulb is loose in the socket, your LED dimmer will flicker.
Poor electrical wiring
Poor circuit work can occur at any point of your house, for instance, the junction boxes, breakers in the panel, or endpoints.
These loose connections interrupt the current flow and make the LED bulbs flicker often.
Your LED flickers even after you have turned off the light.
The LED lights can flicker simply due to the dirty or corroded sockets.
When the socket becomes dirty, the dust will pile up in the socket and stop the current from flowing to the light, leading to flickering.
A corrosive socket will also interrupt the current flow and flicker the light.
Regular maintenance and cleaning can prevent flickering.
A dimmable LED driver manages the electrical current.
LED lights have two drivers for constant voltage and constant current.
The constant voltage driver maintains the light efficiency for compatible DC voltage for adequate functioning.
The constant current driver ensures the functionality of the p-n junction.
If the drivers are faulty, they will degrade the heat and make your LED lights flicker.
LED lights flickering on a motion detector
Motion detectors with electronic switches (triac or thyristor) are also responsible for flickering dimmer LEDs.
The motion detectors need a minimum load for the electrical switch to work without leakage.
The single-wire motion detectors hooked in the phase-line to LEDs can make the lights flicker.
Troubleshooting tips for different types of LED flicker
To prevent your LED lights from flickering, you should fix the causes behind the flickering. Below are major tips for troubleshooting your LED flicker issues:
1. Upgrading to a compatible LED dimmer switch
Fortunately, changing and upgrading a dimmer light switch is easy.
It will need proper care and a slight electrical understanding.
Your first job is to get a compatible dimmer switch for your LED light.
All LED lights are not dimmable, and all dimmable switches will not work for all the dimmable LEDs.
To ensure that your dimmable switch is compatible with the LED bulb, confirm that your LED is dimmable and the switch can suit the bulb.
Check the manufacturer’s compatibility chart before selecting one for your LED.
Before starting, cut the power supply to the dimmer and LED light to avoid electrocution.
Also, flip the light switch to the off position and follow the following steps:
- Unscrew the screws at the cover plate and the screws that anchor the switch in the electrical box.
- The switch will be attached to 3 wires – either 2 black or 1 black and 1 white, and a bare green wire.
- Use a tester to check the connection to ensure the power is off.
- Loosen the wires and remove them.
- Cut the wire ends and strip 1 inch of insulation.
- Use a twist on the write connector and attach the dimmer’s green wire to the wall’s ground wire.
- Hold the wires next to each other to connect the wire connector and screw the connector clockwise.
- Cover all the bare ends with the connectors.
- Now, connect the remaining two wires from the dimmer to the wires of the wall.
- After the connection is over, screw the dimmer switch to the electrical box and screw back the cover plate.
- Attach the know, turn off the power, and check the switch.
2. Reducing the load to prevent voltage fluctuation
Overload and wire issues cause voltage fluctuation.
The effective method of fixing this problem is changing the LED light’s location and checking if the problem resolves or persists.
If the reason is overload, you should reduce the load and avoid using heavy-duty appliances and lights in the same circuit.
If the fluctuation in the power grid, it won’t be consistent as the house voltage will stabilize after an initial flickering.
Check the light’s behavior throughout the day because voltage fluctuation is not the only reason behind flickering.
Voltage fluctuations occur due to loading and loose connections.
If there are any loose wire connections, call an electrician to fix them.
It will also fix the surge issue.
3. Using an LED that can reach the minimum load
If you use an LED dimmer that does not meet the minimum load, use a resistive or dimmer switch tested with dimmable LEDs with a lower minimum load.
This light will reach the load and prevent further flickering.
4. Using good-quality LED lights
Instead of buying low-price lights to save money, always buy good-quality lights with a longer lifespan.
Go for the price-competitive bulbs to prevent flickering and save you from spending money constantly behind a light.
5. The importance of selecting high-quality LED light to minimize flicker
Low-quality LEDs only convert the current.
A high-quality LED will supply constant current to your dimmable LED lights and convert the current from AC to DC, thus preventing frequent flickers.
100 flickers are nothing to worry about because humans can only catch flickering if it is slower.
Most of us will find the flickering issue when the flickers are around 50 per second and slower. Only a few people will see faster strobing.
In some places, a basic no-frill LED transformer is needed where flickering light is a desirable effect, for example, in nightclubs.
The high-quality LED lights are designed to create a regular flickering effect as a warning. It indicates that your LED needs a bigger, higher-spec power supply.
6. Fixing loose connections to eliminate LED flicker
Tighten the loose connections in the light and socket.
Check if the cords are loose.
Unplug the light and check the cord for loose wirings.
If wires are loose in the cord, tighten them by twisting them together and screwing them on a wire connector.
Once you have secured the connection, plug the light back in the outlet and turn it on.
Make sure the bulbs are tightly screwed. Screw the bulbs tightly to the sockets if you find them loose.
A loose cord connection will make your LED flicker. Unplug the light, and check the wires for loose connections.
If you find any loose connections, twist the wires tightly together and screw them with a wire connection.
Check the junction boxes, endpoints, and service panels for wiring. Hire an electrician to fix the poor wiring.
7. Cleaning the contacts and sockets
Over time, dirt and debris can accumulate in the LED contacts and the socket, making them flicker.
Cleaning the contacts and the sockets will solve the flickering issue.
Disconnect the affected fixture from the power source and wipe the socket with a soft cloth to remove the dirt and debris.
Use a cotton swab dipped into rubbing alcohol or vinegar to clean the contacts if the dirt is stubborn.
Turn the power back on after you are done cleaning.
8. Using a constant-current LED driver
Constant-current LED drivers are high-spec LED drivers that eliminate flickering and vary the voltage across the circuit to generate constant electrical flow and brightness.
These drivers will also ensure the electricity delivery to your LED so that it does not fluctuate and mitigates the effects of AC and DC conversion.
In certain situations, however, these drivers may not reduce the flickering due to incompatibility. So, you should confirm the compatibility before installing.
9. Fixing the motion detector issue.
An LED will flicker due to the motion detector.
To troubleshoot the problem, use a motion detector with a low minimum load or one that contains a switching relay.
10. Testing and adjusting LED lights to minimize flickering
There are multiple ways to test LED flicker.
One of the simplest ways is by using your smartphone.
Open the smartphone’s camera, point it towards the light source, and take an image.
If you notice a series of dark lines across the screen, your light has flickering issues.
If the dark lines are not visible, your light has invisible flickers, which are not a very serious issue.
Another way is by downloading an app called VISO Flicker Tester.
It will use your phone camera to measure the flicker index, percentage, and frequency to give you a better picture of the flickering.
To minimize the flickering, you need to use lights with additional drivers from most LED companies.
To adjust a flickering LED light, follow the following steps:
- The first thing you should do is check the bulb connection. If you feel loose, adjust it by tightening it properly. It should minimize the flickering.
- If that does not reduce the flickering, try another LED light in its place. If the flickering stops, it means the previous bulb was faulty.
- A swollen capacitor can sometimes cause flickering. In that case, you should replace the old capacitor and adjust your LED to reduce flickering.
- Check the dimmer compatibility. If you must use a dimmer switch, ensure your LED is dimmable.
- Wipe the bulb socket and remove the dust to minimize the flickering of the light.
- Use a power supply that turns the AC to DC. It will give the LEDs a constant current driver to balance the current in the LED by varying voltages.
- While installing dimming systems, check for the minimum dimming level. Use a 0 to 10V or digital volt-dimming system instead of a TRIAC alternative.
- Call an electrician if you cannot adjust your LED’s flickering issue.
Dimmer LEDs can flicker due to several reasons with different circumstances. In most cases, the dimmer LED will flicker due to incompatible dimmer switches and using dimmers for non-dimmer lights.
Other reasons include loose connections, dirty and rusted sockets, voltage fluctuations, low-quality LED lights, faulty drivers, and surges in the wattage.
You can troubleshoot a few of them, but others need the expert’s attention. Otherwise, replace your LED.
Do LED bulbs flicker when they die?
LED lights become dimmer as they age. Over time, the dimming will increase and flicker a little. Replace the LED with a new one.
Do LED lights flicker in cold weather?
If the LED lights flicker along with the temperature drop, suspect frozen internal components due to the low temperature.