It’s a good question. Why is flicker still a problem in LED installations? LED is no longer a ‘new’ technology – although admittedly, it is still in its infancy compared to incandescent bulbs.
LED technology has progressed a huge amount since it was first introduced to the mainstream market, with better tone, more versatility and a wider range of compatible products. There are now LED solutions for almost every lighting installation, from domestic bulbs that fit standard light fittings to sophisticated warm tone downlights.
So why do so many LED installers still encounter unexpected flicker? Here are the top three reasons we’ve encountered in our testing room.
#1 Incompatible dimmers
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, TRIAC dimmers just don’t work with LED lighting. The current interruption method used in a TRIAC dimmer is incompatible with an LED’s continuous current: the flicker that you can see when an LED is dimmed to lower levels is caused by a small copper coil vibrating inside the dimmer’s circuit.
Paired with an incandescent light, this interrupts the power supply to lower the level of light emitted. Paired with an LED, however, and that power interruption becomes visible.
#2 Poor quality LEDs
Thankfully, it looks as though the influx of poor quality LED imports is slowing, as contractors and suppliers alike get wise to the problems they cause. Most wholesalers will be able to recommend good quality LED brands that have a good reputation for compatibility.
#3 Mislabelled LED packaging
Sometimes, there can be a huge disparity between the actual wattage of an LED lamp and the wattage printed on the box. While a lamp may only use 12 watts once it’s up and running, it could take a lot more than that to get started, thanks to the inrush current. This power surge on start-up can peak at more than double the wattage advertised on the packaging. That 12 watt lamp, for instance, could reach 30 watts for that brief ‘powering up’ period, causing the dimmer to overload and flicker or even drop out entirely.