Have you installed new LED light bulbs only to see them flickering on and off?
This is a common problem reported by many. All the same, that doesn’t mean you should label LED bulbs the culprit. On the contrary, they are usually as innocent as a new-laid egg.
So where does the problem lie if not with the LEDs?
There can be a number of reasons behind flickering. In this post, we will discuss three most common ones and — more importantly — solutions to this problem.
Let’s get going.
Reason 1 – Off Peak Electricity
Some Australian electricity suppliers give their customers an option to pay different tariffs for electricity depending on what time of the day they use it. Specifically speaking, you pay a higher rate during peak hours (8am-8pm) and a much lower tariff during off-peak hours (8pm-8am).
Electricity suppliers use a feature known as “Ripple Control” to signal the tariff change to electronic devices. The ripple control signal is transmitted at a frequency different than that of the electricity supply, which is 50hz in Australia. For instance, the ripple control signal may be sent at 1050hz or 400hz.
And this is where the problem lies.
LED light bulbs — much like incandescent bulbs and other electrical appliances — can be sensitive to this difference in frequency. As a result, you see them flickering, especially if on a dimmer circuit.
Now you may be thinking: But my old incandescent bulb didn’t flicker?
Oh, it did… it was just that you didn’t notice it.
All bulbs flicker — but in case of conventional bulbs the flickering is not noticeable. That, however, is not because incandescent bulbs have got something up their sleeve that LEDs don’t. Quite the opposite, they don’t seem to flicker because they have a functional defect — and a major one at that.
Incandescent bulbs waste almost 90% of input energy through heat — and it is this residual heat that keeps their filaments glowing between flickers.
Ok, I get it, Incandescent bulbs are wasteful, but how can I stop my new LEDs from flickering because of the ripple control signal issue.
Use a quality LED dimmer — that is, one designed specifically for LED light bulbs and having ripple control filters. As said before, the problem usually appears when LED lights are dimmed, so a good dimmer can make a world of difference.
All the same, depending on where you live, sometimes even the best dimmer may not be able to effectively minimize the signal interference. If that happens, don’t lose heart. A quality LED driver — designed to protect LED lighting from voltage or current fluctuations — can save the day for you.
Reason 2 – Loose Wiring
Another common reason behind flickering in LED bulbs is loose electrical wiring. It really would be best if you let a certified electrician investigate further and make the necessary repair.
Reason 3 – Dimmer Compatibility
It is possible that existing dimmer switches in your home are not compatible with new LED lighting. In that case, you should consider buying the right LED dimmers.
All bulbs flicker, and LED light bulbs are no exception.
More often as not, the flickering occurs less because of some issue with LED lights than some other problems. Have the wiring checked by a reputable electrician and ensure you are using the right kind of LED dimmer.
If you live in an area where the supplier offers different charging tariffs depending on the time of the day, investing in a quality LED Dimmer and an LED Driver could do the trick.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What causes an LED light to flicker?
There could be many things. For instance, loose electrical wiring or incompatible dimmers can cause flickering in LED lighting. Another reason could be “Ripple Control” signal, which is used by Australian Electrical Suppliers to signal the tariff change to electrical appliances where On-Peak and Off-Peak electricity is used.
2. Are flickering lights dangerous?
If the flickering lights problem is because of some electrical problem, yes, things can turn ugly if left unattended. We recommend you rope in the services of an experienced electrician and get the issue fixed.
3. How do I fix flickering lights?
That depends on what is causing your lights to flicker in the first place. If the issue is because of “Ripple Control” signal, you may need a quality LED dimmer and/or LED Driver. On the other hand, if the problem is arising because of some wiring issue, send an SOS to your local electrician.