Flickering LED Downlights: Causes & Fixes
Date Posted:22 December 2023
Despite their popularity, LED downlights are not immune to flickering, be it occasional or irritatingly constant. In this blog post, we’re going to explore why downlight flickering happens and what you can do about it.
What year was your house built? If you answered somewhere in the ballpark of the early ’80s — or earlier — it’s possible your house may have accumulated some electrical issues over the decades. One such issue is loose wiring, which inevitably happens with time. If you believe loose wiring is inspiring the downlight flickering, don’t attempt to resolve it yourself — call in a professional electrician.
Incompatibility With the Dimmer Switch
If you’re pairing your LED downlights with a dimmer switch, the flickering may come down to incompatibility. Especially in the case of older dimmer switches, you may be dealing with fixtures built for halogen lights rather than the more contemporary LED alternatives. While this odd couple can function as a unit despite fundamental differences, the quickest fix for their downlight flickering is to swap out the dimmer for a standard switch.
If you and your household aren’t ready to give up on the versatility of dimmable lights, it may instead be time for an upgrade. Modern LED dimmers have handy features to help reduce downlight flickering. For example, we stock dimmers that allow you to set the minimum dimming point, to avoid the flickering that happens when you dim the lights too low. It’s hard to control LED downlights at a low power level, which is why you experience flickering with dimmers.
You might have heard the advice that your downlights are possibly flickering because of an overloaded meter box — but we’re here to tell you that this is likely not the case. It’s almost impossible to overload a lighting circuit these days, since everyone has moved over to LED downlights. These energy-efficient lights draw so little electricity that they’re almost certainly not the culprit of your downlight flickering. But a dimmer? Now that’s a whole other story.
As we discussed earlier, your dimmer switch can be incompatible with your LEDs, but did you know that you can also overload a dimmer? Dimmers have wattage ratings on them, which, if overloaded, can cause flickering at best and a fire at worst. If you’re noticing your downlights flickering, it’s time to check out what wattage you’re working with to avoid a potential accident.
The Ripple Effect
Do you experience downlight flickering around the same time every day? There’s a chance that you’re noticing the ripple effect. In NSW and Queensland, the Electrical Supply Authority will superimpose higher-frequency signals on the main supply at different times of the day, depending on where you live. Some specific types of hardware understand this signal and will remotely turn on or off after receiving the higher frequency (e.g. off-peak hot water heaters). This is known as ripple control.
Many electrical appliances, like toasters and fridges, will be affected by ripple control — and your LED downlights are no exception. While there is nothing strictly speaking ‘wrong’ with your downlights in this scenario, there are options if this flickering is bothering you.
We offer a range of Ripple Control Filters to stop downlight flickering and fan buzzing when the ripple control reaches your home. For example, the Cabac 1050Hz Ripple Signal Filter can fit through a downlight hole and is compatible with a range of light types. The Hunter Pacific 1050Hz Ripple Control Tone Filter can be retrofitted to your fans or LED downlights, perfect if you’ve only realised the issue after installing your appliances.
Unfortunately, sometimes we purchase a dud — or buy from the wrong brand. If you suspect your LED downlights flicker due to a manufacturing fault or quality issue, try swapping out the bulbs for new ones and see if that sheds some light on the situation.
Load Up on Downlights at MJS Electrical Supplies
If you’ve read this blog post and decided to remedy flickering with some new LED downlights or accessories, you’ve come to the right supplier. At MJS Electrical Supplies, you can invest in all the LED downlights, smart downlights and sockets you need to install new or replace those that are flickering or failing. Check out our downlight collection and see if you get that lightbulb moment. When it comes to upgrading your electronics, you can count on MJS Electrical Supplies to light the way.