How to Troubleshoot Common LED Issues

LED lights can flicker like other lighting types. There can be several different causes for this potential issue.


For many homeowners, the flickering issue with their LED lights is caused by installing low-quality products. It can also be an issue with the transformer, the dimmer switch, or a strobing concern from a malfunctioning component.


Before the invention of LED light bulbs, fluorescent tubes, halogen downlights, and incandescent lighting also caused flickering options in homes and businesses for years.


Other issues can cause flickering light problems, including intermittent flickers from grid surges and high-frequency traces.


Here are the ways that you can start solving the LED light flickering problem if it develops for you.


Identify the LED Light Quality

You'll want to take the time to review your current LED lighting setup. The most common reason for a flickering light is a low-quality product. If you have a loose connection in the product's circuits or an issue at the switch, you'll end up with this problem developing.


Here are the steps you can take to start troubleshooting the issue.


  1. Review the whole fixture to see if loose wires are there and tighten as needed.
  2. Tighten or secure the screw lamp that's currently installed.
  3. Review the connection to ensure it didn't shake loose for some reason.
  4. Disconnect the power flowing to the circuit and secure any additional wiring within the switch box, based on your troubleshooting work.


LED lights can flicker even when a dimmer switch isn't connected. The best way to proactively avoid this issue is to purchase products from trusted manufacturers. Look for items that carry extensive warranties, guarantees, and lifespan ratings to reduce risks in this troubleshooting category.


Start Narrowing the Options

If your wires and connections appear to be snug and usable, the issue with your LED flickers could be an incompatible switch. Other equipment issues within the production chain could also exist. It's crucial to note that newer LED bulbs aren't always compatible with vintage dimmers and switches.

Older dimmers were not designed to control loads below 20W. If you have that product installed, they can struggle to provide consistent lighting.


Other potential failure points could be part of the issue in this category. Here are the different topics you'll want to troubleshoot if you're having problems with your LED lights.


  1. Review the installation to see if any driver components are still functional, or if they have stopped working.
  2. Inspect the relaxation oscillator to determine if it is operating correctly.
  3. Look for improper surge wattage ratings or power supplies with your product setup.
  4. Take a closer look at the voltage levels within the circuit to see if they're consistent or if they change while the light is on.


When you have non-dimmable lights on a dimmer switch, the quick fix is to maintain 100% power at all times. Your LED lights might not last as long with this setup, but it should stop a flickering problem.


It might be necessary to upgrade to an LED optimized dimmer switch or install a load correction device with your current setup.


Driver Failure with LED Bulbs

Although cheap LED lights seem like a great bargain, it's not unusual to see premature failures occur in these budget-friendly products. A low-quality bulb is more likely to fail than a high-quality product.


You might encounter downlight flickering, especially if you're using certain types of low-voltage lights. Aside from a potential dimmer issue, there could be two possible causes to troubleshoot in this category.


  1. Loose electrical connections happen more often in this situation. They degrade as time passes, requiring you or a qualified professional to replace them to restore functionality.
  2. Incompatible transformers can cause flickers and outages. Older models provide an output range of 20W to 50W, but some modern designs are as low as 7W. It might be necessary to upgrade your setup to eliminate the problems you encounter.


Repeated power surges eventually wear down the driver in LED lighting, creating a delayed failure that you'll need to manage. A great first step is to purchase environmentally preferred products that deliver lots of individualized benefits, including energy savings.


Blinking, Buzzing, and Strobing

If you're tired of the noise and feedback that comes from fluorescent lights, it might be time to invest in LED upgrades. When you take that step, it's possible to eliminate the flicker while lowering your energy consumption rates.


Some older fluorescent lights have brittle connectors that the industry calls “tombstones." You might need to upgrade the entire fitting before you resolve your issues.


If you've already upgraded to LED lights, a malfunctioning product can cause similar strobing, buzzing, and blinking issues.


The product's manufacturer might require you to speak with their service department to discuss other potential fixes. If your LED bulbs are under warranty, a direct repair or replacement is possible. You might be asked to have a professional evaluation completed to ensure that everything meets the guarantee's requirements.


When a flickering or malfunctioning LED light is out of warranty, the product's manufacturer might refer you to a direct replacement.


Some strobing, buzzing, and blinking problems result from electrical components shorting out, wearing out, or not being up to code. You can tell if your light switch is bad by looking for these potential symptoms.


  1. Your LED lights take time to turn on or start flickering a few seconds after you've flipped the switch.
  2. You can hear noises coming from the switch. If any unusual sounds originate from inside the unit, it's probably time to complete a replacement.
  3. If you see sparks appear when you flip the switch, it must be replaced immediately. Any popping or smoking also mandates an immediate replacement.
  4. The light switch might feel warm to the touch when it starts going bad. You might even detect an ozone-like smell if some of the wiring begins to overheat.


Grid Disturbances and Power Quality Issues

When the local utility company controls its off-peak loads, a ripple gets sent through the entire grid. Once that “wave" impacts your home or business, it can cause extra noise or flickering lights. Although this problem typically occurs late at night, it is theoretically possible to have it happen at any time of day.


In this situation, your best option is to purchase high-quality LED bulbs to use. Once you have them installed throughout your entire home, the risk of intermittent flickers is significantly reduced.


If you encounter this issue routinely, there might be a loose connection in the wiring that leads to your home. You would need to call the utility provider or an experienced electrician to ensure that the problem is correctly resolved to stop the flickering issue.


High-Frequency Light Flickers

LED lights use a strobe-like flicker to create a dimming experience. When the technology works correctly, you can't see the blinking problems occur.


Using a 50 Hz electricity supply as an example, the current would cycle 50 times per second. Most LED bulbs are designed to manage this power flow, but cheaper models might flicker each time a new direction occurs.


Many of the older fluorescent lights suffer from a similar problem. When you have a high-frequency flicker happening at home, you can experience more eye fatigue and headaches. Upgrading to a high-quality LED light should resolve the issue.

If it doesn't, you might need to reach out to your local utility company to see if there is something they can do on their end.


Is It Time to Upgrade to LED Lighting Options?


When it's time to upgrade to LED lights, you can often swap out an older bulb for a newer, environmentally preferred one. Most of today's designs are meant to be compatible with today's fixtures, but there are always exceptions to manage.


You'll need to ensure the switch and circuit at home are consistent with the LED technology you've introduced if you're living in a home more than 20 years old.


Some LED lights are installed as an entire fixture. When you must take the old one out to put the new one in, it often helps to take a picture of the wires after disconnecting the fixture.


Please don't forget to turn off the power to the LED light to ensure it's safe to work. It also helps to check the wires with a high-quality voltage tester before touching anything.


Older houses might not have a grounding wire to use as you troubleshoot LED lighting problems. If you face that situation, the fixture manufacturer typically has you wrap a green wire around one of the switches' screws or another metal component during the installation process.


Please follow the instructions offered by the product's manufacturer to ensure you're always complying with all local codes.


After you have the LED light issue troubleshot, you'll want to restore power. Check for lingering flickers or other problems with functionality. If you see any problems, you can refer to this content to ensure you can complete the repair or upgrade processes quickly and effectively.


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