I have 3 recessed canned lights in my hallway and I went to change these to all LED bulbs. The only way these work is if 1 canned light (doesn't matter which one) has the old BR30 incandescent bulb in it. Everything lights up fine with the switch. If I place 3 LED bulbs in all fixtures, when you hit the switch, it flashes quick then all out. What would be the cause?

Not much on this circuit and its controlled by 2 separate switches. No buzzing or noticeable damage to wiring, as all lights work completely fine if I use 3 reg. bulbs. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

  • 2
    Is either of the switches a dimmer, or electronic, or anything else interesting?
    – jay613
    Nov 7, 2022 at 21:31
  • SImple single pole toggle at one end and a dual toggle at the other. The one that controls these is on the dual end is an illuminated rocker. Nothing odd from my standpoint? No matter which one is on or off, problem exist exactly the same. The bulbs are standard LED ones that work in the rest of the house...120V 60HZ 140mA 8W bulbs.
    – Brandon
    Nov 7, 2022 at 21:38
  • 3
    Illuminate rocker could be the problem
    – Traveler
    Nov 7, 2022 at 22:37

1 Answer 1


TL;DR Replace the Switch

A switch that is illuminated when the switch is off has to get its power from somewhere. The old method was to deliberately "leak" some power through the circuit being switched. That works fine with incandescent bulbs. But with LEDs there can be all sorts of problems - flashing, constant dim glow or just not work at all.

The modern solution is to complete the circuit in the switch box. That requires a neutral. (Well, technically it can be done with ground, and within certain constraints that can be done in a proper (i.e., UL or ETL approved) way.) But many older houses don't have neutral in the switch boxes. In the case of 3-way switches, often one will have neutral and the other one will not, but all sorts of combinations are possible, and it is impossible to guess what you've got.

You will need to replace the switch. There are 3 possible options:

  • Plain 3-way switch - guaranteed to work

  • Lighted 3-way switch that uses neutral, provided you have neutral in the box.

  • Lighted 3-way switch that does not use neutral but that says it is LED compatible, such as this Leviton from Home Depot. I am actually not sure how it works - whether it legitimately uses ground to complete the circuit or whether it use the switched hot but does it in a way that works with LED lights.

  • 1
    Depending on how the switch is wired, neutral must be white, but white might not be neutral(switch loops where white becomes hot).
    – crip659
    Nov 7, 2022 at 23:09
  • 1
    Manassehkatz--appreciate the input. Im going with the simple 3 way switch, no need for illumination. I figured it could be one of the two but really had no idea. Thanks for describing the reasoning.
    – Brandon
    Nov 7, 2022 at 23:38
  • 1
    This will hopefully work, though it isn't obvious how. A simple no-neutral illuminated switch causes flickering when off because it isn't fully off, but when "on" it's a closed switch, the illumination is shorted, it should be irrelevant. It would be good of you to follow up on this, here, once you've tried it and to post a pic of the old switch.
    – jay613
    Nov 8, 2022 at 1:04
  • 1
    a lot of newer LED bulbs have resistors across the main inputs to play nice with leakage currents (no dim flicker) while providing enough current to power a PIR/dusk2dawn/illuminated/timer/etc (not enough for most smart switches though). In short, try newer/different/better bulbs.
    – dandavis
    Nov 8, 2022 at 4:32
  • 1
    Ill update everyone once complete...new 3 way switch hopefully works. Ive tried 3 different types of LED bulbs so I don't think brand or buying a better bulb is the issue.
    – Brandon
    Nov 8, 2022 at 16:03

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