Why Are Dimmable LEDs Flashing And Strobing?

When a dimmable LED flashes, it is a cause for concern.

LEDs are a great way to save energy and cut down on your electricity bill. They use around 30%-50% less power than traditional incandescent lighting and last as long as 20,000-50,000 hours—that’s over 11 years of continuous use. In addition, LEDs are more eco-friendly than incandescent or fluorescent lights.

Dimmable LEDs are a product of lighting advancement and allow homeowners to adjust the brightness of a bulb. While dimmable bulbs work with a non-dimmable circuit, a non-dimmable bulb can not work with a dimmable circuit.

If your dimmable bulb flickers, it could be a sign of poor electrical wiring. Other problems include dirty sockets, incompatible dimmers, loose bulbs, and bed drivers.

In the post, I will explore the reasons your dimmable LEDs are flashing, and strobing. Plus, how to stop this issue.

A Loose Connection To The Bulb

Sometimes light flickering is a sign of something simple as a loose connection in the bulb or dust on the base.

Make sure the base of the bulb is clean and tightly screwed in. If the problem persists, move on to inspect your fixture. 

Over time, sockets can become loose and corroded, making electrical contact unreliable. Hence, the best way to diagnose these problems is to open up the fixture.

If this is happening in your socket, that could mean that sometimes a connection isn’t made at all. Another probable reason is the current is flowing only partially through the circuit, which can cause flickering.

Bad Drivers

The driver converts alternating current (AC) electricity into direct current (DC) electricity for the LED. If this conversion doesn’t happen properly, or occurs at a slower rate than expected, then flashing will occur.

Bad drivers are susceptible to heat damage. Therefore, if the LED driver is the problem, replace it. Purchase a new driver that meets all of your requirements. Drivers are rated in voltage, so get one that matches the amount of power and voltage your LED fixture needs.

Voltage drop

A voltage drop is a difference in voltage between two points. If there’s a problem with your electrical wiring, your LEDs can experience a voltage drop. 

This can happen if a wire has become loose or has broken insulation, which will cause it to resist current flow. The result is that there isn’t enough energy to get through the circuit, and your dimmable LED flashes as they try to receive more power.

Resistance causes voltage drops across circuits because the current can’t travel through them freely. Oxidation on the surface of the wires, too short or long wires, or poor material is another reason voltage drop can occur.

Incompatible Dimmers Are the Main Reason Your Dimmable LED Flashes

A common problem that leads to the flashing of dimmable bulbs is a poorly matched dimmer switch. A trailing edge dimmer works perfectly with LEDs, so consider these first.

If you’re using a standard incandescent dimmer switch, it may not work well with LEDs. These traditional dimmers usually have a high minimum power rating, and since LEDs require low power, an exclusive LED dimmer will have a low power rating.

If this is the case, you’ll need to replace your dimmer switch with one rated for LED bulbs. Some dimmers work better with certain types of bulbs; some don’t work at all with others. Thus, before purchasing new bulbs, check the bulb’s compatibility with the switch.

To calculate how many bulbs your dimmer switch can handle: divide the minimum and maximum load of the dimmer by 10.

Next, add up the wattages of all your LED light bulbs to see if they fall under this dimmer’s maximum rating. Note: The total wattage of the LED light bulbs on a dimmer circuit MUST be no less than that calculated minimum load rating for your dimmer.

Consider upgrading to dimmers like the Lutron Diva. They are compatible with traditional bulbs and perfect for a single pole or three-way installation.

Overloaded Circuits Or Faulty Dimmable Bulb

If you have an older home, it’s possible that your electrical system is outdated. This can cause your dimmable bulb to flash or flicker on the same circuit as a large appliance.

To fix, upgrade your home wiring or consider adding a second breaker to each circuit. You’ll need help from an electrician for this project.

Additionally, find the source of flashing lights by powering each appliance in your home one at a time. If the flashing accompanies any buzzing and all other appliances are off, that bulb is likely faulty.

Overloading a circuit breaker can cause damage to both your appliances and lights.

Not all bulbs are created equal. There are bulbs that have cheap LED drivers or chips that burn out easily and aren’t compatible with the most popular dimmer switch.

Trying To Dim Non-Dimmable Bulb Or Using Non-Dimmable Lamps

Trying to dim a non-dimmable bulb is another reason your bulb is flickering. A regular LED bulb will produce 100% light; you can not increase or decrease its brightness. Therefore, using a bulb on dimmers without the additional mechanism to dim can cause flickering and shorten the lifespan of the bulb.

Furthermore, using dimmable LEDs on a non-dimmable lamp will cause your bulb to flicker. Again, these lamps do not have the components to dim your lights.

What To Do When Your Dimmable LED Flashes?

  • If the dimmer switch is the problem, replace it immediately.
  • Make sure to purchase a bulb that is right for your circuit.
  • Invest in bulbs with quality dimmable chips.
  • Purchase backup bulbs.
  • Clean lamp sockets and tighten loose bulbs.
  • Always use dimmable bulbs with dimmers.
  • Test a bulb with your preexisting dimmer before replacing all your bulbs.

To Recap,

There are many reasons your LEDs are flashing, so ensure you rule out all the issues above before purchasing a replacement.

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