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Lights flicker for ~17 seconds at 1 flash/sec, then normal for ~23 seconds. This cycle repeats itself continuously.

The video starts with the 23 second "normal" period, followed by 17 seconds of flickering, and shows 2 cycles. May need to turn screen brightness up, but if you watch closely the flashes are evident.

Context about my home's electrical system:

  • video is of ceiling light
  • flickering is not isolated to a single circuit. Occurs in bedroom circuit, bathroom circuit, kitchen circuit (fridge light), outside garage light, and floor lamps plugged into outlets
  • 1950's house, copper wiring, no ground on most circuits except for kitchen. Location is in Indiana, USA
  • In Jan 2018, recently after purchasing house, I:
    • installed GFCI outlets at the head of each circuit to conform with NEC code for having 3-prong (grounded) outlets on wiring with no ground.
    • replaced all other normal receptacles and switches
    • replaced all lights with LEDs
    • flickering phenomenon only started about 4 months ago, well after I made above changes
  • I have a single dimmer switch for kitchen ceiling light, which is LED. Both dimmer switch and LED claim compatibility with dimming functionality. Oddly enough, this light doesn't flicker, at least not strongly enough that I can perceive it
  • 100 amp service

Things I've tried already:

  • Had utility company replace connections to weather-head due to imbalance on legs of main coming into panel. Flickering was occurring before this, and this did not solve.
  • Asked utility company if transformer was sized appropriately/working correctly. Technician said yes, but also didn't climb pole to inspect transformer.
  • Inspected breakers on all circuits. Replaced some that I thought could have poor connection, but flickering continued.
  • Inspected panel for any loose connections at bus bar, tightened a few, but found nothing suspect

I'm fairly handy, an engineer, and confident in my ability to troubleshoot without getting myself electrocuted, but I'm out of ideas. Any thoughts?

Link to video

Panel model info: Panel Model Pic 1Panel Model Pic 2 Panel Model Pic 3

  • 1
    Cool! The regularity of it is interesting. – Chris Cudmore Aug 29 '18 at 17:24
  • Also, do you have any smart devices connected? and CFLs? what else might have a timer in it? – virtualxtc Aug 29 '18 at 18:04
  • I have smart devices as in a Google Home. No smart lighting devices though. Everything is LED, no CFLs. Nothing I can think of that would have a timer. – nbdyowens Aug 29 '18 at 18:12
  • Ok - I had similar problems with CFLs, and it could be a poorly designed AC-DC converter in your LEDs, but it seems more likely to be related to a device that is 'calling home' - do you have solar? – virtualxtc Aug 29 '18 at 18:23
  • What make and model is the main panel in the house, and are all the circuits on the same leg of the panel/service? – ThreePhaseEel Aug 30 '18 at 0:01
3

I had strange flickering in the past (but not quite with the strange periodicity you are), and this is how I found the device(s) that was dirtying up the power for my whole house:

  1. Go to the breaker and shutoff all but one of the flickering circuits

Did the flickering stop?

if yes:

  1. One by one turn each circuit back on until the flickering returns
  2. Once flicking returns you now know which circuit contains the device causing the problem (the last one you turned on). One by one, unplug/unscrew each device/bulb from the circuit until the flickering stops

if no:

  • Turn off the circuit, and switch on a different one that you had noticed flickering on

    • If the flickering is gone, it was due to a device in your home, proceed to step 3 to isolate the device.
    • If you are still experiencing flickering, it is likely due to a problem your electrical carriers equipment. Call them and let them know you've isolated the problem to something on their end.
  • In doing process you described, have confirmed another symptom, which is making it especially difficult to actually troubleshoot. When I flip any breaker, flickering stops, for a time. But then gradually, over 25-48 hours, it comes back, so I haven't been able to identify which circuit is culprit. Seems like it could be related to some weird capacitance phenomenon. My next idea was to do same process you described, but with devices plugged into receptacles. This wasn't successful either, as I've basically unplugged everything I can (short of disconnecting each light fixture). – nbdyowens Aug 31 '18 at 14:37
  • The LED lighting should be the first things you check as they are the most likely devices to have some sort of advanced electronic circuit done as cheaply as possible – virtualxtc Aug 31 '18 at 21:58
1

It's the toaster oven cycling. My Breville does that, whole house has LED bulbs that only flicker when oven is on.

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I have this problem, it seems that power fluctuations can be common. This can be caused by a central heating system turning on or off, or an oven or something else. Unfortunately with LED bulbs in particular they are incredibly sensitive to slight variations in power / voltages.

If this isn't a wiring problem and the flickering is once every minute or so - like mine, just swap the LED bulb for a dimmable LED bulb.

In my case I am suspicious that it's something going on with the meter.

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