How to Fix Your LED Downlights Flickering

Having problems with your LED Downlights Flickering?

As more and more homeowners changeover from ‘legacy’ light sources, LED downlights flickering is a common problem and one that is not always easily solved.

One of the main reasons for LED downlights flickering is that not all LED lights or LED dimmers are created equal.

Some are built to a price, not to a performance level; there is a wide variation in the quality of the LED’s inside; the Lamps and the drivers both mechanically and electronically do not match.

Many LED lights claim to be ‘dimmablebut are unable to be dimmed to 0% brightness or will flicker at low or high brightness etc.

 

Solving the LED Downlights Flickering Problem

The goods news is that in most cases, where quality products have been used, these issues can be resolved.

However, there are some situations where there is nothing that can be done, and these will be covered first.

LED Downlights Flickering Issue #1

RIPPLE INJECTION:

This issue only affects LED downlight flickering in Australia in NSW and South East Queensland. If this is not you then read on to issue #2.

If it is you then this issue materialises as periodic flickering at regular intervals, typically of an evening and early morning.

This is caused by energy supply utilities broadcasting ripple signals on the mains cabling for off-peak electric hot water systems. These high-frequency signals are received by all consumers connected to the grid in that area irrespective of whether they have tariff changing equipment installed in their switchboard or not.

These are regular periods of LED downlights flickering of 10 – 15 mins duration spread over an hour or more. This typically occurs in the late evening or afternoon and is normally only noticeable on lights controlled by dimmers.

The signal may not be received correctly the first time around which is why it is repeated.  Most often the flickering of the lights is only noticeable when the lights are dimmed, the more dimmed the lights are the more noticeable the flickering is.

This has always occurred, however, prior to LED lighting, the tungsten and halogen lamps held sufficient thermal inertia such that the flickering was accommodated by those light sources without materialising to occupants.

There is no cheap or easy fix and discussions with supply authorities and Australian manufacturers continues as as to solve the LED Downlights flickering.

 

LOAD Bypass to Stop LED Downlights Flickering

A number of the solutions below should be considered and explored before looking to install a LOAD BYPASS device.

A Load Bypass device is an additional component which can be attached to the dimming circuit if you are experiencing LED downlights flickering or even the LED dimmer (and LED backlights flickering)

The Diginet Load Bypass Device (MMBP) is designed to provide improved dimming and switching performance of some problematic LED and CFL lamps.

The device can overcome the following issues which are occasionally seen when controlling some LED or CFL light sources via electronic dimmers, switches, timers or sensors:

  • When switched off, the LED/CFL lights flicker, pulse on/off or do not switch off
    completely.
  • When switching on, the LED/CFL lights have difficulty turning on and the dimmer
    indicators flicker or pulse.

LED Downlights Flickering Issue #2

INCOMPATIBLE DIMMERS AND LED/ LED DRIVERS

When you upgrade to LED lighting you must also update your wall dimmer.

If you do not there is an incompatibility between the electronics in the LED and/or LED driver and the dimmer. Older dimmers were never designed to dim LED lights.

Expecting these old dimmers with ancient dimming technology to dim your LED lights is illogical and will not work – at least not to a performance level where most homeowners would be happy.

Your electrician can fix this by also installing dimmers made specifically for dimming LED lighting and Australian conditions.

The Diginet LEDsmart+ range of dimmers, switches and timers are designed in Australia, for Australian conditions and specifically for dimming LED light sources

LED Downlights Flickering Issue #3 & #4

IMPROPERLY WIRED AND/OR OVERLOADED DIMMERS

This may seem obvious but often overlooked.

Is the wiring to the dimmer and the LED driver or fixture correct and terminations tight? If not the flickering you’re experiencing may simply be related to loose or incorrect wiring.

All dimmers, including LED dimmers, will have a minimum and a maximum rated load. Exceed this load and the performance will deteriorate and may materialise as LED downlights flickering.

If the LED dimmer is rated at 400w(atts) and the electrician has done his maths correctly, there should be less than 400watts of LED lighting attached to that dimmer circuit.

De-rate your dimmers

Often more than 1 LED dimmer – whether it’s a push button dimmer or a rotary dimmer – will be installed in the same switch-plate.

Sometimes up to 6!

The more electronics jammed into a small space the more heat is generated.

The more heat that is generated the lower the total load (capacity) of each dimmer. In these circumstances to maintain performance, and avoid LED downlights flickering, the maximum load of each dimmer must be reduced. This is called de-rating.

All LED dimmers have different recommended de-rating factors and you should check with the manufacturer for each.

If you find that the dimmers are overloaded and have not been de-rated you have a few easy choices.

1) Remove sufficient LED lights from the circuit to match the new, de-rated load capacity of the dimmer.

2) Install another switch plate and relocate some of the dimmers from 1 plate to the new plate.

 

LEDSMART+ AND LOAD BYPASS (PART# MMBP) ARE AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL ELECTRICAL WHOLESALER

Photograph: Patrick SchneiderBangkok, Thailand