Recessed lights as a light source are a great addition to the interior design scheme of any home. Whether you’re using them as a focus light for your home’s architecture, as border lights, or for general lighting, the fact that these lighting fixtures are basically inserted in your ceiling, making the bulbs flush with the ceiling makes them fit in seamlessly.

If you have LED recessed lights in your home and you notice that one or more of the light bulbs are flickering, it is a good idea to check and see why that may be happening. The cause may have to do with your home electrical systems.

In this short read, we’re going to take you through why you may have a flickering bulb in your recessed lighting and what the solutions are.

The issues and their solutions

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Overheating

Since the 1980s, the Underwriters Laboratory has insisted that every approved recessed lighting installation also be fitted with thermal protection switches, also called thermocouples. 

The thermocouple is a tubular switch that’s installed between the line and a load of a recessed light. If the temperature inside the recessed fixture increases, the overheating triggers your thermal protection switch to turn off the light bulb. 

Once the fixture has cooled down sufficiently, the light is turned back on automatically. Effectively, this switch prevents wire damage and electrical house fires. You can make out if the flickering is due to this thermal protection device by listening to a distinctive click when the switch turns on or off.

Excessive light bulb wattage

The cause of flickering LED lights could also be because the light has too high a wattage. When this happens, the bulb emits too much heat, which triggers the heat sensors in your thermal protection device. This causes ceiling lights to flicker.

To check if this is the cause, remove the bulb and read the labeling inside the light housing to figure out what the highest bulb wattage allowed is. If the light bulbs you’re currently using are of higher wattage, replace them with lower wattage bulbs.

Loose wiring

In some cases, the cause of lights flickering can be traced to loose wiring. To check if this is the case, you will need to switch off the power at the circuit breaker and then check if the wires have all been connected correctly.

Ideally, black wires and white wires ought to be connected to wires of the same colors, and these wires ought to be sliced together accurately, excess wires trimmed, and secured using a wire nut.

If you do not have much experience with electrical wiring, it may be better to call an electrician to check your wiring for you. Keep in mind, that loose wiring is one of the causes of electrical fires.

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Incompatible dimmer switches

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Dimmer switches allow you to control the brightness of the lighting. Sometimes, you can also trace an intermittent flickering instance to noncompatible dimming switches in the lighting circuit. 

Simply put, a dimmer that has been designed to handle high voltages may not really work too well with LED bulbs, which tend to be low voltage. Since they don’t have a glowing filament, LED bulbs start flickering like strobe lights when paired with these incompatible dimmer switches.

The solution is either to switch over to old-fashioned incandescent bulbs or to upgrade to LED-compatible dimmers.

Never ignore the signs

Lighting problems may not seem like a big deal, but could often have a more serious underlying cause. As a homeowner, it is always prudent for you to check out the cause of these issues. If it isn’t a major problem, a quick-fix solution may be all you need. However, you may discover more serious electrical issues as well in the process. As the old adage goes, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Why do my recessed lights flicker and what are the solutions was last modified: September 16th, 2022 by Narayan Shrouthy
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