Have you installed LEDs, and the light bulbs are flickering? If you are dealing with flickering LED lights, you’re not alone.
Why LED lights flicker?
LEDs flicker due to voltage fluctuations. LED fixtures are operated by an electronic driver. Unfortunately, some LED drivers are more susceptible to voltage fluctuations or noise than others, depending on the quality of the bulb.
The voltage fluctuations and the flickering happen because your dimmable light-emitting diodes are designed to switch on and off at very high speed.
So what’s causing the LED to flicker?
The LED flicker could be caused by several things. But typically, LED lights may dim or flicker in your home when there are voltage fluctuations in your electrical wiring.
When electrical loads turn on and off in your house, this creates a change in voltage levels, which may cause the LEDs to sometimes flicker or dim.
LEDs and all other lights, including halogen, fluorescent, and incandescent flicker, even if you cannot always see it.
In the United States, electricity is an alternating current (AC) supply, delivered at 120 Volts at a frequency of 60 hertz, which means the electric current that powers your LEDs switches backward and forward 60 times every second.
The flickering was difficult to notice with older technologies like incandescent light bulbs because its residual heat kept the filament glowing between flickers. The flickering was a side-effect of the inefficiency of traditional bulbs. These old incandescents normally wasted about 90 percent of input energy through heat.
So let’s look at a common misconception about flickering LED lights. Because your electric supply causes LED flickers, some people believe it can be avoided completely if the power input (voltage and current) remains stable.
This isn’t true about flickering LEDs. All AC-powered light sources flicker.
But if all lights flicker, why is it a bigger problem with LEDs?
Before LEDs were powered by DC power, LED flicker used to be a common problem. This was because LEDs have no persistence, unlike incandescents, halogens and fluorescents. When the power supply to an LED light is turned off, the light output stops immediately. So if connected directly to an AC power supply, an LED will switch on or off 60 times each second. That’s enough to be visible to the eye.
That’s the reason people think LEDs flicker more than other types of lights. But, that’s no longer true today.
LED flicker isn’t a problem for modern LED systems. You don’t have to worry about flickering because we don’t connect the LEDs to the mains (AC power) supply anymore. Instead, we power LED lights using an LED driver.
How does the LED power supply solve LED flicker?
LED lighting requires a direct current (DC) power supply, not an AC power supply like some older lights. Using DC instead of AC power is good news because the key to eliminating LED flicker is the kind of power supply you use to drive your LED lights.
An LED driver is just a fancy name for a power supply. But, it is actually more than a simple LED transformer. An LED driver does more than transform voltage from AC to DC. A high-quality LED driver will also supply a constant current to your LED bulbs, eliminating the visible flicker.
However, a lower-quality, no-frills LED driver doesn’t provide a constant current. Instead, it just converts current from AC to DC. This most basic power-supply conversion produces an oscillating current that typically doubles the input voltage frequency.
Is LED flickering a problem?
One hundred flickers per sec are much better than 50 flickers. But flickering is still a problem, doesn’t it? Luckily, it’s nothing to worry about in most situations – because the human eye isn’t sophisticated enough to see it. As a result, the human eye perceives light fluctuating below 100 flickers per second. Laptop and tablet screens flicker in the range of 60 to 70 hertz per second. That’s barely noticeable to the human eye.
Maybe one out of a hundred people could see such fast strobing; it’s not an issue for most people. A basic no-frills LED driver or transformer is all you need in many LED installations. LED flicker can be a desirable effect in some cases: think of bicycle lights or construction zone warning lights.
Get rid of LED flicker with constant current
But if a simple power supply isn’t enough for your LED lights, then a constant-current power supply would be a good alternative.
Higher-spec LED drivers can eliminate flicker by varying voltage across the circuit, generating a constant electric current. The constant electric current ensures the current delivered to your LED lights doesn’t fluctuate at all, which mitigates the AC/DC conversion effects.
Unfortunately, there are some situations when even a constant-current LED driver can’t eliminate flicker. One common cause is interference caused by incompatibility issues. Before installation, make sure that your LEDs are suitable for the control circuits and power supply you’re using.
LED flicker due to interference or incompatibility
If the reason behind LED flickering is interference or incompatibility, then the flicker will be uneven. But that may not be the real issue you’re facing. Instead, if your LEDs are producing a rhythmic flicker, then it’s very likely they are drawing more power than the LED driver can supply.
High-quality LED power supplies are designed to create a warning flicker effect. Regular flickering indicates that your LED lights require more power.
Faulty connections due to loose wiring can also cause problems.
If you have multiple electronic devices installed near (on the same switch plate, for example), the combined heat could be overloading LED dimmers. As a result, this is likely to cause intermittent flickering.
When LED lights are used for video applications (e.g., theatres, TV studios, or film production, etc.), you’ll need very high frequency, high-resolution outputs. And such requirements are beyond the range of standard LED drivers.
What is the MOST COMMON REASON for LED FLICKER?
The dimming function is the most frequent cause of visible LED flicker.
How to fix LED flicker due to dimming?
Dimming can cause challenges even in a technically sound LED installation. Conventional dimmers work by lengthening the ‘off’ part of each on-off flicker cycle to reduce the total amount of LED light output.
This LED technique is called PWM or pulse width modulation. PWM is effective as long as the switching frequency doesn’t drop to a level that the human eye can perceive.
Some manufacturers resolve this issue by developing LED dimmers with a faster flicker cycle. A flicker cycle of thousands of hertz is the goal. This would simulate the electronic ballasts’ solution that has powered fluorescent lighting for many years. There’s a downside, though: the higher the flicker frequency, the nearer to your transformer your LEDs will need to be, which is not always practical.
What are LEDs, and why do they last so long?
LED stands for light-emitting diode. LEDs use a different technology than incandescent light bulbs. LEDs are the most efficient, widely available lighting technology today. They don’t have filaments that operate at extremely high temperatures that oxidize and eventually burn out. The filament of a traditional light bulb reaches about 4,600 Fahrenheit (about 2,550 Celsius). LEDs can last up to 90 percent longer than conventional light bulbs.
Do LED light bulbs go bad?
LED light bulbs usually boast a long lifespan; they do go bad. Even though LED light bulbs are more expensive than traditional light bulbs, they won’t last forever. Some manufacturers claim that LED lights will last for longer than ten years.
Why do LED light bulbs burn out?
LED light bulbs can fail differently than incandescent light bulbs. Instead of suddenly burning out, LED light bulbs get gradually dimmer.
Do LED lights degrade over time?
LED light bulbs don’t burn out like traditional light bulbs. The luminosity of LED lights gradually decreases, and they degrade over time. The loss of brightness is the result of material changes in the LED chip and clouding of the optics. Degradation is the aging process of LED light bulbs, which causes diminished brightness over time.
Why do LED light bulbs eventually burn out?
LED light bulbs are significantly more efficient than incandescent light bulbs; they are not 100 percent efficient in converting electrons into light. Because some of the power still comes out as heat. This excess heat collects in the neck of the LED bulb above the socket. As the heat builds to a high temperature, it also increases the temperature of the air inside the light bulb. The chips and capacitors degrade under higher than normal temperatures. If there is insufficient ventilation, the LED light bulb could fail.
What is lumen maintenance?
LED maintenance goes beyond changing light bulbs. Incandescent light bulbs burn out immediately, going from full lumen output to zero output. Lumen maintenance refers to how much of the luminous flux remains in an LED light bulb after a given amount of operating hours. It is expressed as a percentage of the LED light bulb’s original output.
How long do LED lights really last?
LED light bulbs have an extremely long lifespan. They are designed to last about fifty times longer than traditional light bulbs. High-quality LED light bulbs are engineered to last for up to 50,000 hours.
How long do LED lights last on average?
Unfortunately, we don’t have a very accurate measure of the average lifespan of an LED light bulb. The lifespan of an LED light bulb depends on various factors. LED lights are expected to last between 10,000 and 50,000 hours.
Do LED light bulbs really last ten years?
As LED light bulb technology stands today, the 10,000-hour lifespan may be a stretch. Many LED light bulb manufacturers claim to have a ten-year lifespan. As always, the details are in the fine print. If you carefully read the warranty documentation, you will find things like “the ten-year lifespan is based on only using the light bulb for three hours a day.”
Don’t let claims fool you. Read the fine print before you really believe manufacturers’ claims.
Factors can shorten the lifespan of LED light bulbs:
- Power supply – For maximum lifespan, LED light systems require a stable power supply. If the power supply fails to control and regulate current, it will shorten the lifespan of your LED light bulbs.
- Excessive heat – Try to shield your LED lights to protect them from extreme heat. Protect your LED lights from heat sources such as furnaces and heaters. The new generation of LEDs have heat sinks to prevent lumen depreciation. In higher-than-expected temperatures, LEDs, like many other electronics, are known to underperform. Cold weather isn’t a problem for LED lights. LEDs thrive in the cold due to less thermal stress is put on the diodes and driver.
- Power cycles – Every time you power on your LED lights, you are impacting the lifespan of your unit. LED light bulbs that are turned on frequently will fail sooner.
- Capacitors – Higher ambient temperatures can shorten the lifespan of the plastic capacitors. Ceramic capacitors have a longer lifespan.
- Poor design and suboptimal parts – Poor design and suboptimal heat sinks could result in LED light bulb burnout.
What are the reasons my LED light bulbs aren’t lasting?
The primary reason for LED light bulbs not lasting is an incorrect usage. If misused, LED light bulbs can fail faster than incandescent light bulbs.
Ways to extend your LED light bulb’s lifespan:
- Operate LEDs for shorter periods. LEDs left on for longer hours have a shorter lifespan.
- Use a timer if you tend to forget to turn off your LED light bulbs.
- Only use LED compatible dimmers because not all dimmers are universal. The incorrect dimmer could cause an early failure. Check with the manufacturer to make sure the dimmer you are buying is LED compatible.
- Allow LEDs time to cool down before you turn them on again.
- Make sure that you are buying the appropriate LED for your environment. It is the best way to ensure that the LED light bulb will perform in your current space, climate, and environment.
- Avoid switching LEDs on and off frequently.
Can LED lights be left on 24/7?
Technically speaking, high-quality LED light bulbs are extremely long-lasting and can be left on 24-hours, 7 days a week. But, should you leave an LED light on 24/7? LED light bulbs can last up to 50,000 because LED light bulbs operate cooler and safer than incandescent light bulbs. This means that LEDs are extremely safe and ideal for extended use. But if LED light bulbs are not being used, leaving them on is a waste of energy.
Why should you buy ENERGY STAR certified LED light bulbs?
Light bulbs that do not qualify for the ENERGY STAR may not perform as expected. LED light bulbs that earned the ENERGY STAR certification are subject to specific requirements created to replicate the experience consumers are used to with traditional light bulbs.
ENERGY STAR certification covers the following areas:
- Minimum light output to make sure the LED light bulb provides enough light.
- Light distribution requirements to make sure light reaches where you need it.
- Five different color quality requirements
- Verified compliance with more than 20 performance and labeling requirements.
- Testing to backup lifespan claims.
- Operating environment testing.
- 3-year minimum warranty requirement.
What are some myths about LED lighting?
LED light myth #1 – LED lights last forever.
It is true that LED lights are designed to last longer than traditional light bulbs; they don’t last forever.
LED light myth #2 – LEDs don’t get hot.
It is true that LEDs give off less heat than traditional light bulbs; they can get hot.
LED light myth #3 – LED lights aren’t as bright as traditional lights.
They emit no less light than traditional light bulbs. And they use much less energy than conventional light bulbs.
LED light myth #4 – LED light quality is poor.
The “Colour Rendering Index” (CRI) of LED lights is between 75 and 85. The CRI of daylight is 100.
LED light myth #5 – LEDs can damage your eyes.
LED lights are no more dangerous than any other artificial light source. The intensity of LEDs is comparable to incandescent light bulbs.
LED light myth #6 – LED light bulbs don’t work in extremely cold environments.
LEDs work well in extremely cold environments and might even last longer when used in cold temperatures.
LED light myth #7 – LEDs contain hazardous materials.
Unlike fluorescent light bulbs, high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs, and neon/argon lamps, LEDs don’t contain mercury.
LED light myth #8 – LEDs flicker more than traditional light sources.
LED light bulbs only flicker when you use a faulty or a non-compatible dimmer switch.
How to convert LED light bulb lifespan hours to years?
Before you buy an LED light bulb, check its lifespan. You can calculate the lifespan of an LED light bulb the following way:
Lifespan Hours – (Days of Week) x (Hours a Day) x (Days a Year)
If you purchase a 10,000-hour LED light bulb, and you use it for 5-hours a day seven days a week, it should last about five years.
How to calculate LED lifespan?
Lifespan Hours – (Days of Week) x (Hours a Day) x (Days a Year)
Led lights are supposed to last for a very long time, but mine don’t last long, what am I doing wrong?
It is possible that you are not doing anything wrong. Often, poor quality LED lights are sold on the market. First, you should confirm that it is indeed the led light bulbs that failed or the power supply.
As with most electronic components, heat is the enemy. LED light bulbs are highly sensitive to heat. Many LED light bulbs fail because of excessive heat. This is entirely out of your control, so you are not doing anything wrong there.
LED light bulbs also fail due to inrush current. Inrush current occurs when you switch on the LED lights. Low-quality components are more susceptible to inrush current than high-quality LED light systems. The best way to prevent LED light failure due to inrush current is to buy Energy Star rated LED lamps.
It is clear that when it comes to lifespan, LED light bulbs outperform incandescent light bulbs by a long shot. From everyday indoor use to Christmas lights, regardless of the use case, LED light bulbs are ideal for extended use. If there is a situation where you need the light on permanently or for prolonged use, it makes sense to use LEDs. You will save on your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint.