It’s dinnertime at your house, and you’re hosting a large company of people on this special occasion. Everyone is having a pleasant time – that is until suddenly, your lights flicker. When lighting dims or brightens suddenly, it’s annoying, regardless of when it happens, and unfortunately, this is quite a common problem we face with artificial lighting.
Reasons for your lights dimming and brightening include faulty wiring or ballasts, circuit overloads, or power grid issues. Or, it could simply be that your lights are old. Luckily, other than issues with the power grid, everything can be easily fixed.
Throughout this article, we’ll examine some common causes of flickering lights and how you can fix them.
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Lights can dim and brighten for several reasons, and before you can fix the problem, you must identify its cause. Below are the main reasons why your lights are dimming and brightening.
Bulb and lamp life hours indicate how long a bulb will last through use. It could be for a couple of hours, say 750 to 2000. After its stated lifespan, a light bulb will only put out 70% of the light that it did before or more. Different components wear out differently as bulbs age, causing the lights to dim or flicker (source).
Your lights could also dim unexpectedly if the wiring in your home is old or not strong enough to handle the amount of current it uses. These older homes are not built to serve today’s modern households, which typically feature many devices and appliances that use large amounts of electricity (source).
In addition to keeping lamps in place, ballasts supply them with the appropriate amount of electricity at the optimal voltage frequency. Some lamps also require special startup conditions, which are often regulated by ballasts. However, this regulation may malfunction as ballasts age. Consequently, voltage or current levels can fluctuate, resulting in too bright or dim lights.
If your lights dim when you turn on your air conditioner, clothes dryer, or microwave, you most likely have a circuit problem on hand. Almost every home electrical circuit has a maximum power draw.
More devices connected to one circuit would create more power usage. To balance this out, the current flowing through your lights will decrease, causing lights to dim (source).
There may have been a transformer failure or an interruption in power coming to your house. Storms often cause such problems. There is less likelihood of brownouts (general dim lighting) than blackouts, but they can happen if there is a citywide power shortage or an unusually high energy demand.
Whenever your lights brighten, too much energy is being received. Likewise, when they dim, too little energy is being received. You may end up receiving too much or too little power and further damage your electrical devices if this problem becomes worse.
To keep this problem from getting worse, try any of the following five fixes.
If the lights are dimming and brightening because of an old light bulb, then replacing the light bulb will solve the issue. Always be sure to check the bulbs in your light fixture before doing anything else. More often than not, this simple problem is the reason for your troubles.
If your lights only flicker because you turned on heavy appliances, like the air conditioner, this could be due to fault wiring. You might want to look into a service upgrading your house for such equipment by having it re-wired.
When the light switches are faulty, they can result in flickering lights. This brightening and dimming are because the faulty light switches may not connect with the bulb. The best thing to do is to replace the defective light switches with the help of an electrician.
At times, the cause of dimming and flickering lights is brownouts. Your electricity provider must have deliberately reduced the supply to prevent a total blackout, probably because of bad weather. Unfortunately, all you can do is wait out the brownout, have a flashlight on hand, and unplug devices to avoid them getting damaged by the low voltage.
Sometimes, taking out the whole light fixture might be in order if you’ve tried everything else. This replacement can be done by a professional. However, if you’d like to take up the challenge, here are some detailed steps on how to install a new light fixture “DIY style.” (source)
If you’d rather not hire an electrician or are more of a DIYer, here’s a step-by-step on how to install a new light fixture yourself:
Most dim lighting problems are electrical (and do not stem from the bulb itself), and an electrician will need to be contacted.
Nevertheless, knowing what the issue is before scheduling an appointment will save you both time and money.
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