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Why are my LED lights flickering?

LED lights and their transformers are sensitive to a number of electrical and environmental factors. This article can assist you determine what might be causing your LED lights to flicker.

LED light flickering?

If you are experiencing strobing or flickering it is typically one of three things:

  1. Incompatible dimmer on the circuit
  2. Electrical interference
  3. Environmental problems (e.g. dampness or very high heat)

Incompatible dimmer


In almost all domestic cases flickering is caused by an incompatible dimmer.  Most LED lights work best with an LED dimmer and some will not perform properly with leading edge, trailing edge or universal dimmers.  Whilst dimmer manufacturers will tell you their dimmers are likely to be compatible with LED lighting, if they are not specifically for LED lighting they can cause a number of performance issues from a reduced dimming range, to flickering and failure.  In my experience, the older the dimmer the more likely there is to be issues.  Essentially an LED dimmer is made to recognise and work with the very small loads of LED lighting - even if there is only 1 light on the circuit.   A regular dimmer often cannot recognise the small load unless there are a number of LED lights on the circuit.  This can cause reduced dimming ranges or flickering at upper or lower end of the dimming range.

Electrical interference


This is a more difficult problem to identify.  LED light drivers are sensitive to power quality.  Any interference in the power (such as harmonics) can cause performance problems like flickering and can lead to light failure.  As the instructions highlight the light cannot be installed with other electrical devices on the circuit (like exhaust fans), nor can you mix different types of lights as  this is likely to cause performance issues.

To address this issue ensure the light circuit includes no other devices and all lights are the same and check the quality of your power source.

Environmental issues


Dampness, heat and/or lack of airflow will cause issues with LED transformers and/or lights.  Ensure that the environment for these lights meets the requirements for installation in the instructions.  The lights typically cannot be covered by insulation or this will reduce their lifetime as the heatsink will be unable to dissipate heat.

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