As incandescent & compact fluorescent light bulbs in my home have been dying, I've been replacing them with LED bulbs, as those have dropped in price considerably (the local electric company's subsidizing pretty decent sales in some nearby chain stores, too) and should last much longer. No problems with the standard on/off bulbs yet, but I've begun to lose lights in dimmable fixtures.

I've read elsewhere that the rotary style switch won't work with LED bulbs (this was confirmed by putting a couple dimmable bulbs in a dimmable fixture in the dining room and watching the crazy poltergeist effect when the dial was set anywhere between off and 100% on).

That's not a huge deal for me, to swap out a couple of switches as needed. But I now have an even more unusual problem. In my living room we've got a ceiling fan, which the previous owner purchased @ Home Depot some 10-12 years ago. It's got 3 sockets (60W max apiece, I believe) and its remote is the only means of controlling its ability to dim the lights. On a lark, I tried replacing a couple of the bulbs that burned out recently with a pair of dimmable 60W-equivalent LED bulbs. With all 3 bulbs in there--the 2 LED + 1 40W incandescent--all 3 dimmed just fine, but were much too bright for the room, so I simply removed the lone incandescent. Unfortunately, when the light was off, the LED bulbs never fully turned off. Only when I had the 3rd bulb, the incandescent, in with them would the light function properly.

I elected to purchase 3 40W-equivalent bulbs, thinking that having all 3 in there would solve my problem of brightness and the weird empty socket keeping the light from turning off all the way. Unfortunately, with all 3 sockets occupied by dimmable LED bulbs, the fixture will not shut off fully. It dims perfectly fine, but the lights are, otherwise, on all the time. Any ideas what's causing my problem, and any potential solutions (short of "buy a new fan," I hope).

And, for whatever it's worth:

  • fan: Hampton Bay Sussex 52"
  • wireless remote: Hampton Bay UC7083T
  • old incandescent bulb: 40W, A15 bulb, E26 base (brand unknown)
  • first LED bulbs (60W-equivalent): Zilotek, A19, 120V, 9W, 60Hz, 80mA, 3000K, 800 lumens, dimmable
  • newest LED bulbs (40W-equivalent): Feit, A19, 120V, 6.5W, 60Hz, 66mA, 3000K, 450 lumens, dimmable
  • 1
    Really freaky problem/solution: I was in a different store & happened to see they had essentially the same bulbs in a different brand (GE, 480 lumens, 2700K instead of 450 lumens, 3000K in the Feit bulbs) that would save me a few bucks, so I snagged them. Swapped them in for the ones I had and that seems to have temporarily cured my problem, as these lights turn off all the way now. I'm assuming, based on the answers provided, it has something to do with a material that might be somewhere in the GE bulbs that's not present in the Feit bulbs?
    – rmadd101
    Oct 16, 2016 at 2:01
  • 1
    it sounds like the GE bulbs have a higher current threshold for turning on. :) Oct 16, 2016 at 2:08

1 Answer 1


What is happening is that the folks who designed your fan receiver did a terrible job of it, and you simply didn't notice it before. Incandescent/halogen bulbs are relatively insensitive to leakage currents because they are so darn inefficient -- you can put several mA through them and nobody will notice. However, putting that same 5-10mA through a LED light bulb will cause it to turn on dimly or flicker, depending on the bulb's internal circuits. Whoops!

The answer is to replace the fan receiver with a model that doesn't leak current down the light wire when the light's supposed to be off. (You'll probably have to replace the transmitter remote along with it.)

  • 5
    And the reason adding an incandescent bulb to the system appears to "fix" the problem is most likely that it's tungsten wire filament offers a lower resistance path for this leakage current and, so, it essentially skips the LED bulbs.
    – kkahl
    Oct 14, 2016 at 23:36
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    They definitely did some weird wiring in the house, too. Pretty strange, as it was build around '79. But, essentially, we've discovered that there's one circuit that runs from a GFCI outlet in the master bath in the back left corner of the house, to the ceiling fan mentioned in my problem above (but nothing else in the room it's in, which is in the back right corner of the house), then to the front right corner of the house, operating the garage door lift (but not any other outlets in there).
    – rmadd101
    Oct 16, 2016 at 2:06

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