Your buzzing LED lights are noisy for any number of reasons, the most likely of which we’ll explore with possible remedies. While it’s always best to work with a lighting specialist to identify the specific issue and its solution, here are our recommendations on how to stop LED lights from buzzing with or without dimmers on the circuit.
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When your led lights or dimmer switch become noisy with a buzz or hum when turned on, it’s not only annoying but evidence that something is most certainly not quite right somewhere within the components of the lighting circuit.
As long-established lighting consultants, we look at why do LED lights buzz with our extensive but quick tips to investigate why you have buzzing LED lights.
The most likely problem is with the LED light bulb itself or the dimmer switch. In either case, the best solution is to replace the defective component.
However, how do you know either is defective? Before you replace anything, there are other options to investigate.
The primary cause of a buzzing sound with LED lights is almost always down to an incompatibility between the dimmer switch being used and the LED light bulbs. Your old school halogen bulbs were very forgiving when it came to which kind of dimmer switches you could use, but that’s not the case with LEDs.
To avoid any potential issues, make sure that you’re using an LED dimmer switch that’s recommended by the manufacturer of your light bulbs. And even if it is, there’s still a chance that you might experience some buzzing and dimmable LED flash.
Is the whole lighting circuit making a noise, or is it just one particular light? If it’s just one light, then the problem is most likely with that particular bulb. Try replacing it with a different LED light to see if that makes a difference.
On the other hand, if the whole circuit is making a noise, then you’ll need to take a closer look at your dimmer switch. In particular, you’ll want to check the minimum load that it’s rated for.
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Most LED dimmer switches have a minimum load requirement, which is the minimum number of LED lights that need to be connected to the dimmer switch in order for it to work properly. If you have too few lights connected it can cause dimmer switch buzzing.
The solution in this case is simply to add more LED lights to the circuit until the minimum load requirement is met or try using brighter lamps that use a higher wattage.
With the complications of dimming omitted, then the problem might be with the drivers (power supply), or how they were installed. As with issues that include a dimmer switch, start by investigating the LED lights themselves.
LED lights can buzz with no dimmer when the circuit is overloaded, so if you have more than one LED light connected to the same power source, try disconnecting all but one to see if that makes a difference, and then add them one by one until the problem returns.
If you find that a certain number of LEDs cause a buzz, then you might need to replace the power supply with a higher-rated one or check to see it is connected properly.
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Highly Compatible Dimming
LED compatibility can be fickle, thankfully less so as LED as a light source has matured. However, even if you have an LED dimmer designed for modern lights and the best bulbs you can find, you could be unfortunate enough to just have a persistent compatibility issue.
You have the choice to either forget dimming altogether or try a new set of LED bulbs.
Another potential cause of a buzzing noise is if you’re trying to dim your LED lights too much. In other words, if you’re turning the dimmer switch all the way down to its lowest setting, it can cause the lights to buzz.
The solution in this case is to reduce the brightness of your LED lights by choosing a light bulb with a lower lumen output so you do not have to stretch the dimmer to the bottom of its range.
A soft-start circuit is a feature that some LED dimmer switches have that allows them to gradually increase the power to the LED lights when they’re turned on. This can help to prevent the lights from buzzing, as it avoids putting too much strain on the components all at once.
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If you find that your LED lights are buzzing even though everything appears to be compatible and properly installed, it might be because they have been turned on and off too many times for their designed limit.
LEDs are designed to last a long time, but they’re not immortal. Every LED bulb and light fixture will have a published cycle rate, so if you’re turning the lights on and off frequently and your fitting has exceeded how many times it’s been designed to be switched on and off, it can cause the bulbs to manifest stresses resulting in noise as the electrical components come to the end of their life.
An LED bulb has all its electrical components hidden in its small base and there can be a big difference in the quality of miniature electrical componentry between manufacturers.
Budget choices of bulbs may not have considered how to deal with the naturally occurring 120hz frequencies that the drivers and components need to deal with, resulting in noise from vibration and oscillation.
So you know your bulb needs replacing but it may not be the manufacturer’s remit to replace it under warranty. As electrical componentry can within reason make a certain level of noise, your buzzing LED light may be within the manufacturer’s design tolerances.
A warranty claim is often too much hassle for the sake of a few dollars, but if you have invested financially into your LED solution is always worth asking. We recommend you replace it with a different model or brand as a test first and evidence that change was possible.
An in-line dimmer is a type of dimmer switch that’s installed between the power source and the light fixture, rather than being built into the light fixture itself.
In-line dimmers are often used for halogen lights, but they can also be used for LED lights. One advantage of using an in-line dimmer is that it can be used with any type of light fixture, including those that don’t have dimmer switches built into them.
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If you’re using LED lights, it’s important to make sure that you’re also using an LED-compatible dimmer switch. Not all dimmer switches are, so if you’re using the wrong dimmer switch, it can cause the lights to buzz.
To find an LED-compatible dimmer switch, look for one that’s specifically labeled as so and also check the manufacturer’s website to see if a particular model is compatible with which LED brands.
So you know that the dimmer switch buzzing is where the noise is heard but is it the problem? It would be foolish to replace it until you know for sure it is the root cause.
A sure way to test it is to install a simple on/off switch in place of the dimmer and see if the noise still exists. If that silences the buzz or hum, then you can replace the dimmer with a new one (hopefully with a different brand). But if it doesn’t, then you know that the problem is with the LED lights or elsewhere in the circuit.
A great quality brand to try is Lutron.
Another potential cause of buzzing LED lights is improper installation. Even if everything is compatible and in working order, poor installation can still lead to problems from loose wiring and connections to the incorrect polarity.
Make sure that all your wiring is secure and tight, and that the LED bulbs are installed in the correct polarity. If you’re not sure how to do this, consult a professional electrician.
As LED contains electrical components that operate with some oscillation, it’s undetectable unless a product has become a little loose in its installation and the base of the fixture can amplify the resonance.
This can result in a subtle but audible buzzing noise, especially with directional LEDs such as GU10s. Simply tightening the product in its housing should stop the noise, if it doesn’t you will need a new one.
The simple answer is no, the buzzing noise itself is not dangerous. However, if the buzzing noise is coming from loose wiring or connections, then that could be a fire hazard.
If you’re not sure where the buzzing noise is coming from, or if you can’t fix it yourself, we recommend that you call a professional electrician to take a look and turn the lights off until the matter is resolved.
Another way to reduce the amount of electrical noise that your LED lights produce is to use EMI noise attenuation filters on your power supply. AC power supplies naturally produce a fair amount of electrical noise, which can be amplified by LED lights.
You can purchase power supply filters that will help to reduce the amount of electrical noise that’s produced. These filters are typically installed between the power supply and the LED lights.
If you’re still having problems with electrical noise after you’ve installed filters on your power supply, you may need to change your power supply. Some power supplies are simply noisier than others.
Look for a power supply (called an LED driver) from a quality brand name, such as Meanwell.
You may need to experiment with different power supplies to find one that works well with your LED lights and doesn’t produce a lot of electrical noise.
This would typically be found in the kitchen but appliances that draw a lot of power, such as microwaves, can interfere with lower power devices such as LED that are on the same circuit.
This would mean your LED fixture would need to be plugged into a socket that is on the same power circuit, so try another socket and see if that helps. You may find it’s then on an independent ring and be free of the surge wattage drawn by the microwave that can result in an audible hum.
These are just a few of the potential causes of buzzing LED lights and why you may have a buzzing dimmer switch. By understanding the reasons and knowing what solutions to try, you should be able to fix the problem of your humming LED lights. If you’re still having trouble, consult a professional electrician to help you diagnose and solve the problem.
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