Common Causes For Flickering Lights And How to Resolve It

October 10, 2023

If you find yourself in a situation where the lights in your home or business are flickering unexpectedly, don’t be alarmed; you’re not alone feeling a little bit spooked! Instead, it’s a sign that your electrical system might be experiencing some issues or the lamp/bulb itself is faulty. Occasional flickering is quite common, especially in older homes with outdated electrical systems that struggle to handle the demands of modern digital devices.

Flickering lights might seem like a minor inconvenience, but they can signify more significant problems. In extreme cases, they can even lead to home accidents, such as fires and electric shocks, and contribute to health issues like headaches, eye strain, and epilepsy. To help you address this issue promptly and safely, we’ve outlined the 6 primary reasons for flickering lights and how to resolve them.

1. Faulty Light Bulbs

Check the Bulb and Connections

One of the most common reasons for LED bulbs to flicker is a fault within the bulb’s driver, which is located inside the bulb itself. Unlike traditional incandescent bulbs that simply burn out when they need replacing, LED bulbs exhibit flickering as a warning sign that they should be replaced.

Additionally, loose connections can lead to flickering lights and pose an electric fire hazard. Ensure that the bulb is securely screwed into the socket to maintain a stable connection. Failure to address loose connections promptly can result in further electrical issues.

Also, consider the type of bulb you’re using. For instance, fluorescent bulbs can flicker in cold temperatures, while LED bulbs may blink when used with incompatible dimmer switches. Ensure you’re using dimmable bulbs compatible with your switch to prevent flickering.

If you’ve ruled out loose connections and incompatible bulbs but the flickering persists, it might be time to invest in a new bulb designed for dimmable switches. We recommend Varilight dimmers which are one of the best on the market.

2. Lamp Issues

Investigate Loose Lamp Plugs

If your flickering light issue is specific to a lamp, a likely culprit is a problem with the plug connecting to the wall outlet. To troubleshoot this, unplug the lamp to avoid any potential electroshocks, and test the light bulb in a different lamp socket. If the flickering stops, your lamp may be defective. However, if the bulb continues to flicker, the issue might be with the outlet or the electrical circuit.

A temporary and cost-effective solution is to replace the fuse in the plug or adjust the prongs inside the outlet to improve the connection. For a long-term fix, consider replacing the lamp and consulting an electrician for a safe thorough inspection.

3. Voltage and Wattage Mismatch

Ensure Proper Wattage and Dimmer Compatibility

Inconsistent wattage can lead to flickering lights, particularly when using dimmer switches. For example, if you have five 6-watt bulbs, totalling 30 watts, on a non-LED dimmer with a wattage range of 10-100 watts, the bulbs may flicker and fail to dim properly. To prevent this, ensure that low-wattage bulbs are paired with an LED-compliant dimmer switch with a suitable wattage range, typically 0-100 watts.

Flickering lights can also result from fluctuations in household voltage. Homes and commercial buildings are typically connected to a low-voltage grid, delivering power at 230 volts. Electrical appliances should operate within a range of 115-125 volts. Significant deviations from this range can lead to malfunctions and flickering lights. To assess your home’s voltage, use a digital or analogue voltmeter, capable of measuring voltage, current, and resistance.

4. Overloaded Circuits

Manage Electrical Devices Wisely

Do your lights flicker when multiple electrical devices, such as a microwave, washing machine, and hairdryer, are in use simultaneously? This is a sign that you might be overloading your electrical circuit.

Overloaded circuits are a common issue, even in modern homes equipped with advanced electrical systems. However, it’s crucial to assess how frequently flickering occurs. If it persists, the problem might be with one of your appliances.

5. Shared Transformers

Neighborhood Power Usage

Flickering lights can also occur when households share the same electricity transformers with their neighbours. When electricity travels from the power grid to the transformer and then to your home, it requires high voltage. If the electric cables are aged, they might cause power disruptions.

In smart homes with high digitalisation, an increased demand for power from either your home or your neighbours can result in one receiving less power and experiencing flickering lights. In such cases, check with your neighbours to determine if they are encountering the same issue. It’s also advisable to contact your electric utility provider to report the problem for a prompt repair.

6. Circuit Breaker Condition

Ensure Circuit Breaker Quality

The world of electricity has evolved significantly since Edison introduced the first lightbulb in 1879. With the growing use of digital devices and remote work, electrical demands have surged. If your lights are flickering, it’s wise to inspect the age and maintenance history of your circuit breaker to ensure it meets safety standards and quality certifications.

Flickering lights can lead to dangerous electrical fires, causing substantial property damage and even loss of life. To mitigate this risk, consider installing surge protectors. These devices safeguard your cables and circuit breakers from voltage spikes and lightning strikes.

Further Advice

At Direct Lighting Supplies, we’re committed to providing top-quality lighting solutions and support for everyone. If you need to replace your bulbs or have any inquiries about flickering lights, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experts. We’re here to help ensure your lighting is safe and reliable.

We also have a huge network of qualified electricians across the country who are able to offer on-site inspections and carry out verified installations.