1800 694 376

What You Need To Know About Flickering Lights

You may notice that occasionally your lights flicker on and off rapidly for a few seconds. In some extreme cases, they even dim for small periods of time. Flickering and dimming are caused by changes in the power supply. Now, you may just think of them as an annoyance, and for the most part changes in the power supply do not cause any major damage. The lights eventually go back to normal, and most major appliances like air conditioners, heaters, fridges, motors, etc., are unaffected by these changes in the power supply. But, they can actually be harmful for sensitive electronic equipment. Things like computers, video gaming systems, sound systems, and entertainment systems, are all really sensitive to changes in the power supply, and they can get permanently damaged very easily. So, even though flickering and dimming may not seem like anything major, you should try and get them fixed as soon as possible, to avoid damage to your expensive electronics. If you or someone you know experiences flickering lights you should definately keep reading to get a better understanding of what you can do to rectify the issues.

Try some easy fixes

There are a couple of reasons why your light bulbs may be flickering, and a couple of them are very easy to fix with just a few seconds of work.

The lights you have installed flicker naturally

Certain types of light bulbs just seem to flicker naturally, even if there is no issue with the wiring. The prime suspects are LED lights and fluorescent lights. Fluorescent lights are prone to flickering within the first couple minutes of starting up because the phosphors in the bulbs are attempting to reach the maximum level of illumination. If you have LED lights or fluorescent bulbs, and you see them flickering, then chances are it is not a serious electrical issue. If the flickering really annoys you, it is best to replace the bulbs with a type of bulb less prone to flickering.

Bulbs are not properly screwed in

Flickering lights can actually be caused by something as simple as the bulb not being screwed in properly. A lot of people do not think to check that their bulb is screwed in correctly, especially when the light fixture covers the bulb. Turn off the light, grab something to cover your hand with like a glove or a towel, and unscrew the bulb completely. Wait a few minutes then screw the bulb in again tightly. If the light is still flickering, even though you have confirmed that it is screwed in correctly, then the issue is not the bulb.

Light switch issues

Another possible culprit is the light switch itself. There is a possibility that the light switch is not connecting correctly with the light bulb. If you suspect that your light switch is the source of the flickering, then what you want to do is turn off the light switch for about half an hour. Then turn it back on. If it still does not work, try flicking the light switch on and off a couple of times. If that still does not fix the flickering, then that means two things. Either the light switch is not the issue, or that the light switch needs to be replaced completely.

How to find the source of the problem

So, assuming none of the above solutions bear fruit, and you are still dealing with flickering lights, then it is time to delve a bit deeper to find the source of the problem.

Power heavy appliances

Pay close attention to when the flickering starts. If you notice that it starts around the same time that a power heavy appliance (air conditioners, fridges, heaters, vacuum cleaners, motors, power tools, etc.) starts up, then the problem may be that your current power setup is just not equipped to handle so many appliances running at once. There is not really any easy solution to this problem. You either have to have your house rewired by a professional electrician, in which case they can set up a circuit specifically meant for power heavy appliances, or you have to buy some form of protection for your sensitive electronics.

Forms of protection

There are two forms of protection for your sensitive electronics; if you have flickering lights (and you think the problem is related to your wiring and not loose bulbs or faulty switches), then you should consider getting one or both of these forms of protection.

UPS (uninterruptable power supply)

When a power supply issue happens, your sensitive electronics can get damaged because most of them are not designed to turn off suddenly, but rather have a long process to turn off properly. For example, look at a computer, it does not just turn off instantly, you need to shut it down, a process that takes a couple of minutes. If you shut off your computer instantly, without letting it go through the proper shutdown process, then you risk your computer crashing and losing all your files. Another example would be a gaming system like a PS4 or an XBOX; they are not meant to just shut off, they need to go through a proper shutdown process. If they do not, then they can crash and become very expensive paper weights. An uninterruptable power supply gives your sensitive electronics about half an hour of power (it varies depending on the quality of the power supply), so that if power supply issues start happening, you have enough time to shut off your electronics properly. A UPS is also very helpful for blackouts.

Surge protector

Power surges are a pretty common occurrence, and although most people associate them with lightning, power surges can actually happen when a powerful appliance is started. Power surges will absolutely destroy your sensitive electronics; your television, gaming system, computer, sound system, etc., can all be wrecked by one power surge. As we have already covered, flickering lights can be caused powerful appliances putting a strain on your power supply, this means you are at risk of a power surge, because powerful appliances suddenly starting can cause power surges. There are two types of surge protectors; ones that you install just by plugging them in. You can do these ones yourself. The other type are surge protectors that are installed directly onto your switchboard. Do not attempt to install these yourselves, call a licenced electrician.