What is LED Flicker?
There are many types and sources of flicker. Some we notice, others not. It is, however, a documented source of fatigue, headaches, and in some instances the cause of seizures and other neurological problems. So why does this rapid fluctuation in the brightness of lights occur, why is it so important to manage, and what should we be looking for in our sources of artificial light?
What causes flicker in LED lights?
A light source, whether LED or not, does not inherently flicker on its own. Flicker is a direct result of the power supply, conversion, or the control system to which the LED is coupled.
These are the possible electrical causes behind flickering LEDs:
- Low quality or faulty drivers
- Overloaded circuits
- Loose connections of the bulb or circuit
- Poor wiring
- Incompatible dimmer switches
- Dirty sockets
- Using non-dimmable lights with dimmers
- Inferior quality light fixtures
- Surge in wattage
- Fluctuations in the power grid
Low quality drivers
Based on silicone, LEDs have faster control and response times, however with some driver types, this leads to the LEDs being turned on and off quickly, causing a strobing effect.
In low-cost drivers, the LEDs are driven at 50 or 100hz, causing flicker, and in some cases, the method of control can intensify the flicker. It can be caused in higher cost drivers by the choice of control frequency. This is normally a trade-off between control resolution and output frequency.
Why we can’t always see the flicker
The human eye can detect constant fluctuations of light output below the frequency range of 100Hz, being most sensitive to those between 10-25Hz. Although flicker above the 100Hz range is generally undetectable to the human eye, ideally you want to look for a driver with a control frequency of 400hz or higher to avoid perceivable flicker.
Not sure if you’ve got a flicker problem? A video shot using the slo-mo feature of your smartphone will reveal all.
Health issues caused by lighting flicker
With so much of our lives spent indoors, we are often at the mercy of artificial light to work and function effectively, and inferior or faulty products can affect our health, functioning and overall wellbeing. According to a paper published by the Northeastern University of Canada studying the effects of flicker below 165Hz, these health effects can include ongoing headaches, eye strain and the inability to perform precise and demanding tasks.
While flicker cannot be completely eliminated, it can be minimised by choosing fittings with superior drivers that supply a consistent current to the LED.
All Ektor and Atom products are designed by Australian engineers to meet our high quality and compliance standards. We ensure only the highest quality drivers, LEDs, and housing are used, and all products undergo rigorous testing and compliance before being sold in the Australian and New Zealand markets.
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