Your lights might be flashing with LED dimmer light flicker for any number of reasons, the most likely of which we’ll explore with possible remedies.
Solve dimmable LED flash with 20 tips from a lighting consultant, accompanied with our quick fire video guide.
Table of Contents
When your led lights flash when turned on, flashing led lights are not only annoying and uncomfortable, but evidence that something is most certainly not quite right somewhere within the lighting circuit. Dimmable lights flickering are usually a result of incompatibility somewhere in the setup.
As long-established lighting consultants, we look at why do dimmed LED lights flash with our extensive but quick tips to investigate into the common reasons with potential solutions.
Intermittent flickering led lights could be a simple installation fault. Loose wiring is one of the most common problems we see. If there are any loose wires, they will need to be reconnected and/or tightened.
It’s always a good idea to have a professional check your wiring before you start using any new electrical products in your home. They will be able to spot any potential problems and fix them before they cause any damage.
Not all LEDs are dimmable.
A common reason of why do my dimmable lights flicker and LED bulbs flash when dimmed is that the LED itself isn’t actually dimmable.
LED light bulb flickering can be the result of trying to dim a non dimmable blub.
Either inside the LED bulb or within the lighting setup, there are power supplies that power the LED light sources and when the current is reduced to dim them, these power supplies need to be able to translate the lower power into a reduced delivery of power acceptable to the light source.
If you try and the product isn’t dimmable you could also cause buzzing LED lights.
What is a dimmable light bulb? Dimmable light bulbs are designed to be compatible with a dimmer so the light output can be smoothly reduced as instructed.
When shopping for LEDs, be sure to buy only dimmable light bulbs to avoid dimming led lights problems like led bulb strobing.
A manufacturer of LED product and bulbs still give you the choice to create a dimmable LED lighting circuit or pay a little less and buy a product that isn’t dimmable.
|GE Relax 100W Equiv. Dimmable Soft White LED Bulb|
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GE Brand Quality Dimming
If your dimmable LED light bulbs flickering then they could of course be faulty.
If it is an isolated light bulb or light fixture flashing then before going any deeper into why your dimmer lights flickering, swap the suspect fixture for one you know is working and see if you can isolate the problem down to a faulty product.
Dimmable LED lights flicker because you may not have the correct power going to the LED light. Be sure to use a dimmable power supply that is compatible with the LEDs you’re using.
Just because an LED is dimmable, doesn’t mean it will work with every kind of dimming system out there. In order for an installation to avoid LED dimmable light flickering and flashing, both the power supply and the bulbs must be able to communicate with one another to deliver the right amount of power.
Pulse width modulation (PWM) is a process that allows an LED to be dimmed by rapidly turning it on and off at a rate that is too fast for the human eye to see. However, if not done correctly, it can cause dimmable led flicker and flashing led lights.
You can avoid the visible flicker created by pulse width modulation by using an LED power supply that is specifically designed to work with dimmable LEDs. These power supplies use a technique called phase-cut dimming, which is compatible with most types of dimmers and doesn’t cause flickering and flashing that can be caused by pulse width modulation.
|Lutron Diva LED Dimmer Switch|
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Highly Compatible Dimming
Dimmable light flickers on a dimmer switch as they may have the wrong dimmer module in the switch. To dim LED lamps successfully, you need a compatible control for dimming. There are specific dimmer switches for led lights.
In general, when you are changing your lights to LED and want them to dim, it is a good idea to buy new, compatible controls along with the new LED lamps. Trying to use old dimmer switches with new LED lamps might not work very well because the two might not be compatible.
Additionally, old dimmer switches might not work as well anymore because they have been used for a long time and have passed their life rating.
You may be using a dimmable LED light with a wall dimmer, but the LED still flashes, so it’s important to understand why do my dimmer lights flicker? You need to know how the dimmer and light relate to each other to avoid LED dimmer flicker.
LED lights flicker when dimmed with the wrong type of control.
If you have ever put the wrong fuel in your car you will know it will quickly start to splutter and jolt to a quick stop – lighting compatibility is much the same.
So another tip to see why your dimmable light flickers are to check if your light bulb or lighting circuit is a “leading-edge” or “trailing-edge” type and make sure it is compatible with the dimmer switch itself. This will ensure that both the bulb and the dimmer switch are working in the same electrical phase.
We look deeper into what is dimming, explaining the methods you will need to know and why some led lights flicker on dimmer switches.
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Works with up to 150 Watts of dimmable LED/CFL bulbs. Click for list of compatible bulbs.
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Budget Smooth Dimming
Another common reason for flashing is using a non-compatible or non-reputable source to dimmer switch led lights.
A suitable dimmer switch for LED bulbs are those that have ‘RC’ on them.
These types of dimmers can be used for incandescent, 230V and 12V halogen bulbs, as well as dimmable LEDs and CFLs.
LED lights flicker on dimmer switches that are not sensitive enough to sense the loading. There are now dimmer switches on the market that are designed specifically for LEDs.
The best led dimmer switch no flicker is one with a special microprocessor that helps to smooth out the current, which in turn prevents dimmer bulbs flickering and flashing.
LED bulbs flicker on dimmer switches that are left in a programming mode.
The problem with LED lights dim and flickering on a new dimmer switch, is that it will likely still be in a start up mode or your dimmable LEDs flash on the whole circuit because your controls have mistakenly started the setup mode.
Some dimmer models can accidentally be triggered by pressing a button or rotary knob in quick repetition, either because you have leaned on it or children love to play with switches!
Manufacturers help you see which lights are on a particular circuit by giving them a group flash, so you know it’s in a listening mode and ready for instruction. Left in that mode and there is pulsing LED light instead of a constant light.
Check to see if the switch is in the right mode by following your instructions.
The answer to why do led lights flicker, can be found in the type of LED you have. Your dimmable LED is flashing because you may be trying to dim the wrong type of LED light with your choice of dimmer switch.
LED light is created by powering an LED chip with 3 types of power:
An LED strip light could need a different dimmer type than a circuit of LED bulbs? You need the correct setup of equipment. A constant voltage LED needs the correct driver (power supply) with a suitable dimmer module.
We look at how to dim LED strip lights for smooth LED dimming.
What causes LED lights to flicker is there are too many LED bulbs or products on the circuit.
Most dimmer switches have a range, and if you try to use more LEDs than what is within that range, the switch will overload and cause flickering and flashing.
The minimum and maximum power of the dimmer switch is always stated on the packaging or at the back of the fixture itself.
To solve this, simply remove some of the LED lamps from the circuit or install a new dimmer switch that can handle the increased load.
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Warms Color as Dimmed
LED lights flicker on dimmer switch if are too many lights connected to the dimmer. You cannot stack up a load of bulbs or lighting on a single dimmer switch, especially if the light sources are high-powered.
You may need more than one dimmer switch to handle the load and avoid flickering LED lights or a failure to light up at all.
Dimmer switches are available in different wattage ratings and you must make sure that you do more than not exceed the wattage rating when choosing your LED, but also de-rate the capacity.
There needs to be a significant percentage left on the LED driver, possibly 70% not used. Using more than the recommendation then the circuit may not start properly or stutter with visible flashing.
Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
LED dimmable transformers (drivers) come in different powers. You need to know how many bulbs you will have before you buy the driver. Remember that the total wattage of all the bulbs should not be more than 80% of the transformer’s wattage for a longer product lifespan. For example, if you are using four 4W MR16 bulbs, then you will need a 20W transformer.
The minimum load value is a guide that was originally meant for halogens, but it doesn’t always work for LEDs. With LEDs, you often have to test each combination as you go along.
If the pulsing LED lights are still flashing, it might be that your particular brand or model of dimmer switch has a built-in minimum load. This is designed to protect your home’s electrical circuits from being overloaded, but it can also cause problems with LED lights because they use so little power.
A good way to dim your LED lights is to use an LED dimmer switch. This type of switch has been designed specifically for LEDs and can handle very low wattages. The Varilight V-Pro range has no minimum load, which means it can dim a single low wattage GU10 LED or LED downlight.
Dimmer switches usually work well with a load of at least 40 watts. LED bulbs flicker on dimmer switches if the load is lower than that as it struggles to sense the loading, so the LED lights flicker. This flickering will be more noticeable at lower levels, like when trying to dim below 50%.
One way to solve this problem is to use a resistive (or dummy) load. A resistive load fools the dimmer switch into believing that there is enough load on the circuit and often solves the problem.
You could also think about using wireless lighting controls. This is a cost-effective way to get better dimming control and easier upgrades.
With all the devices on a programmable network, wireless controls use radio waves to send signals.
There’s no need for wiring between the dimmer switch and light circuit which means less labor, flexible installation, and usually a professional solution that solves the issue provided the install is supervised by the manufacturer or a consultant.
What is the quality of your dimmer switch and LED lights?
There is a constant flow of new, untested lighting manufacturers on the market, particularly at the lower price end as their business model is to try and undercut everyone else’s prices over quality components.
Largely speaking, the better the quality of your dimmer switch and LED lights, the less likely you are to have problems.
It’s important to remember that with LEDs, you really do get what you pay for. The cheapest option will probably cause more headaches in the long run than it’s worth.
Reputable brands will also offer a better warranty than the no-name brands, so it’s worth taking that into account when making your decision.
If you have multiple electronic devices installed near the switch plate, the combined heat may be overloading your LED dimmer(s). This is likely to cause intermittent flashing and LED lights strobing.
A good way to prevent this is to de-rate overloaded dimmers. This means that you should choose a dimmer with a higher wattage rating than the maximum wattage of your LED lights.
When starting an LED lighting project, always create a mock-up first. This is especially important with large projects because there are so many variables to take into account. By creating a mock-up, you can work out any potential problems before they become a costly reality.
A mock-up doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be close enough to reality that you can test all the different components together and get an idea of how they will interact with one another.
It’s also a good idea to work with a lighting specialist who can help you create a mock-up that is as close to the real thing as possible.
There are many different reasons to why do LED lights flicker and why dimmable LED lights might flash, but fortunately, there are just as many solutions on how to fix flickering led lights. By understanding the causes and knowing which solutions to try, you should be able to fix the problem quickly and easily.
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