0

At the beginning of the pandemic I removed the drop lighting in my basement and replaced it with recessed can lights. Because the space doubles as a work space and tv-watching space we got a lutron led enabled dimmer and dimmable led lights from the nearby home depot so that we could either have comfortable relaxing light or bright office lighting.

Unfortunately the bulbs don't seem to last very long (12 months or so) until they start to have a "heartbeat" -- a single flicker at regular intervals. I'm open to replacing any (or all) parts of this system because the flicker is really really irritating; however I would have thought getting LED's listed as dimmable and a switch listed as capable of dimming LED's would have been all I needed to avoid flickering issues; as that is not the case, I'm not really sure what to buy.

2 Answers 2

5

I would have thought getting LED's listed as dimmable and a switch listed as capable of dimming LED's would have been all I needed to avoid flickering issues; as that is not the case, I'm not really sure what to buy.

LOL there's the root of the problem. Back in the old incandescent days, the three ways to dim were a variac (huge and heavy), rheostat (large and VERY hot), or a cheap new "semiconductor" tech called a triac, which "turns on" electronically, and turns off when the AC current switches polarity. The dimmer adds a timer to delay when it turns on. Easy, but makes a big mess of the AC sine wave.

enter image description here

This works mostly fine on incandescents (it can be buzzy or flickery). However, LEDs are by nature low-voltage DC devices, and use a switching power supply or some cheaper method to convert AC line power to DC to light the actual LED elements inside the "bulb-shaped-thing". Making this work with triac dimming is a big challenge, and that's why LED dimming is such a nightmare of incompatibility.

Even worse, most dimmers power themselves by leaking current through the incandescent bulb and putting themselves in series with it. When in series with an electronic load like an LED, there are lots of ways the two devices can negatively interact. That's why most LED dimmers have a neutral wire, so they can self-power without involving the bulb.

Some dimmer manufacturers publish a curated list of LED bulb models they have tested their dimmer with. You don't see a lot of Utilitech, Feit Electric, Ecosmart, Commercial Electric etc. on there because those tend to be cost-lowballer brands marketed for impulse grabs on the aisle endcap, not reliability after-the-sale. I mean they're reliable as a bargain - you'll have the warm glow of money savings for the rest of your life. So there's that.

2

Not really. Quality matters. If they flicker it's related to the quality of either your bulbs or your power. The bulbs take the AC and convert it to DC for the LEDs. If the DC power supply in the bulb is junk you'll get the flickering. If the LED bulbs are on dimmers and they aren't dimmable you'll get flicker.

It is possible you have a bad or loose connection somewhere too, or the bulb just isn't tight. So don't skip the easy stuff. Make sure they're all snug. Make sure your plugs (if they're lamps) are in good shape.

1
  • 2
    Speaking of that, I've had similar problems with those Ecosmart bulbs and dimming. I replaced them with a mix of GE and Cree, both of which have worked better. The Ecosmarts are now either in non-dimming spots or in a drawer in the basement as spares.
    – KMJ
    Jul 18, 2023 at 20:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.