In this day and age, if you haven’t switched to LED lights, you are probably considered ancient by your family and friends. The benefits of these lights are endless: amazing efficiency, a seemingly endless lifespan, they are environmentally safe and they produce no UV emissions.
Even though they seem like the greatest thing since sliced bread they, unfortunately, do flicker on occasion just like every other lighting solution. While they don’t flicker as much as others, it’s still a factor, and we’re here to tell you why they flicker and what you can do about it.
What are LED lights?
LEDs create light by using a semiconductor material to move electrons at a fast pace. LEDs do not rely on heat to create light. They don’t require argon, mercury or fluorescent to make light, they are durable, and if they break, they are not toxic to your family.
LEDs do not have any moving parts. They are smaller in size compared to their rival lighting sources compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and incandescent lightbulbs. The best part about LED lights is because they last so long, you don’t have to spend a ton of money replacing them. It’s considered the most energy-efficient light source.
Types of flickering
Before we get into the cause of flickering and its solution, it’s important to understand the two different types of flickering: visible flicker and invisible flicker.
In an article done by Premier Lighting, they explained the differences between the two. Obviously, visible flicker is the one that we can see with our eyes. This occurs when the light output from a given source changes rapidly. It is considered that anything below a frequency of 100Hz can be seen. They go on to explain that there are health problems that can be caused by this flicker. Short-term exposure to frequencies in the 3Hz to 70Hz range are associated with epileptic seizures. This has become a clear public safety issue, so it’s important to understand what you can do to help prevent any health issues.
Invisible flicker is one that is present that we cannot see. It is just as much of a problem as visible flicker, maybe even worse. Even though we cannot see it, you can experience symptoms such as dizziness, eyestrain, headaches, migraines, impaired thought, and other general sick-feeling symptoms.
Why do LED lights flicker?
One of the most common reasons why LED lights flicker is because there are voltage fluctuations in your home’s wiring. The wiring in your home has an electrical current and the resistance of each wire uses some of the voltage when things in your household are turned on and off. If you’re running multiple appliances at once, such as the dishwasher, washing machine, and your computer, the LED light may flicker because electrical loads are being turned on and off, which can cause an occasional flicker.
Because certain appliances within your home require more power when they turn on, it can cause a surge because there is a large drop in voltage. The power drain that occurs can cause the LED lights to flicker, so it’s important to keep an eye on certain appliances that cause this surge so you can get to the root of the issue. The flickering LED light could be something as silly as a loose wire or a loose bulb. By either tightening the bulb back into place or retightening the wires, you can easily solve the problem.
Wall dimmers can actually be the reason as to why your LED lights are flickering. Many of these dimmers work by phase cutting, which removes a portion of the sine wave and then reduces the voltage. This can result in a negative effect on the circuit as the LED light would begin flickering at a dangerous level.
Don’t forget that your home shares a transformer with all of your other neighbors, so if you have that crazy neighbor that likes to run all of their electrical appliances at once, they could be the reason why your LED lights are flickering. Damage that is caused by downed trees and power lines are also a major reason why lights could be flickering, so it’s best to keep an eye on your neighborhood during bad weather. A professional can identify, locate and repair your issue without you having to drive yourself crazy trying to figure it out on your own.
What you can do to stop your LED lights from flickering
If your problem is due to the voltage fluctuation, it’s best to try and not run so many electrical appliances at once. Trying to run the washing machine with seven other things is going to cause a change in voltage levels, which will in return cause your lights to flicker. When it comes to the high surge wattage, the way you can get the flickering and large drop in voltage to stop is to move the heavier load items to a 240-volt circuit. This can help you avoid future problems while solving your current flickering problem.
There could also be dust or debris that is loosening the bulb. By taking a can of compressed air, you can blow out the dust or debris that is interfering with the connection. Cleaning out space where the light is in can do wonders for its performance. As mentioned before, if screwing it in tighter doesn’t help, you may need to switch off the power and tighten the wires yourself.
Going back to the dimmer switches, many people often buy bad switches that are not compatible with the bulbs they are buying. When purchasing a dimmer switch, it is crucial that you ensure it is compatible with LED lights. The same goes for when you are purchasing the bulbs, you have to make sure that they are dimmable. If you continue to buy ones that are not compatible, or you’re buying cheap LED lights, the flickering problem is going to continue.
How flickering LED lights can point to a much bigger problem
Besides the aforementioned health issues that flickering LED lights can cause, these lights can also be telling you that there is something seriously wrong. Checking the current cannot be stressed enough because an overloaded circuit can put your home’s electrical system at risk.
Contacting a professional is important in this situation because inadequate wiring or an old circuit breaker are unsafe for your home, and the last thing anybody needs is for something bad to happen because of a problem that could’ve been easily solved. While you may think that the overloaded circuit breaker is only damaging your lights, think again. It can damage your appliances, so it’s best to keep an eye on your current so you don’t have to spend money fixing your destroyed things.
Homeowners should also beware of loose wiring. If something isn’t wired right, or your house is just old, these flickering LED lights are telling you that somebody needs to come to check it out ASAP. Loose wiring is a major cause of house fires and it’s something that you should never ignore.
Flickering lights in your home is something that happens to everybody on a daily basis. While many of the causes aren’t serious and can be resolved easily, it’s important to call an experienced contractor if you are worried that the cause could be harmful to you and your family.