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I have some can LED lights in my kitchen. When I turn them off after moderate to prolonged use, some of the lights make a “crackle” noise, like the sound ice cubes make after being placed into warm water. It’s is not always the same light making the noise - there are 5 lights on the switch and they seem to take turns making the noise. They also sometimes make this noise when first turned on, but that is much less common.

The lights are around 5 years old, and only started exhibiting this behavior around 6-8 months ago. The fixtures themselves are older - they were there when I bought the house.

Is this “normal”, or at least OK? I’ve never heard this type of sound on other LEDs, so I am concerned. If there is a problem, is it just a matter of replacing lights, or is this indicative of deeper issues?

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  • to me, since it's a recent change, it sounds like the lights are getting hotter than they used to, which could be a problem. I would replace all the bulbs with a matching set of new LEDs; they have come a long way in the last 5 years in terms of cool operation, color temp, efficacy, reduced flicker, dimmer compatibility, and EMI. – dandavis Jun 29 at 20:45
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I am not sure this is the correct answer but why let that stop me from postulating?

I have heard this in some light fixtures and my educated? guess is it is the sound of contraction ( as in expansion and contraction due to heating and cooling )

Some of the parts of the fixture expand from the heat produced by the light, when you turn off the light the fixture starts to cool and contract, I.E. return to its shape/size when not hot.

Is it normal/OK for LED lights to “crackle” when turned off?

Normal, ?? - ok, YES.

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  • That had been my guess also, but I wasn’t confident it didn’t mean the light had expanded to the point of no longer being safe. – SethMMorton Jun 28 at 16:55
  • @SethMMorton They are 5 years old and have not exploded yet. ("i'm not dead yet") Heat can cause other issues like fatigue in the solder joints so it may fail eventually but i don't think it will explode. – Alaska Man Jun 28 at 17:00
  • There's nothing inside an LED that would "explode" in any meaningful way. I've had capacitors fail in front of me and those thing have a "pop" followed by some leaking sound. I've even had an alkaline battery charged in a speed charger and that "exploded" but it was more like a balloon popping and then very fast venting of gasses. No fireball and explosion. You'll need a LOT more power to explode anything since LEDs typically use almost no power compared to other devices. – Nelson Jun 29 at 4:54

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