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Why LED’s flicker- and how to stop it

June 28 2018, 15:42 PM

Why LED’s flicker- and how to stop it

Have you installed LED light bulbs only to have them start flickering on and off? Well, you’re not alone.

LED fixtures/bulbs are operated by an electronic driver in which some are more susceptible to noise, {voltage fluctuations}, than others depending on the quality of the fixture/bulb.

So what’s causing the flicker? It could be a number of things. But most commonly, LED bulbs may flicker or dim in your home when there are voltage fluctuations in your home’s wiring.

When electrical loads turn on and off in your home, this creates a change in voltage levels, which may cause the LED lights to occasionally dim or flicker.

But there are other reasons that may be causing your lights to dim or flicker. Let’s take a look:

  1. Inrush current from appliances

    Certain appliances in your home need more power when they first turn on. The inrush current of motors within appliances causes the voltage to drop and if the lights are on the same circuit you may see dimming of these lights. This is true for many types of lighting including LED.

    You should already have appliances on separate breakers such as your fridge, stove, washer and dryer. If this isn’t the case then a certified electrician should be called to investigate further.
  1. Loose wiring or loose bulb

    Another thing that commonly causes flickering in LED bulbs is loose connections or circuits. This is easy to fix. Just screw the LED bulb in tighter to see of that fixes the problem.  If there’s a lot of dust in the fixture, first blow out the connection points to remove the dust before putting the bulb back in. 

    There may also be loose wiring at the fixture connection point. A certified electrician will disconnect power to the fixture and re-tighten the wiring to make sure it’s tight and secure. If there are numerous light fixtures dimming at the same time then the electrician will investigate at the panel and/or junction box to ensure that all connections are properly secured.
  1. Dimmer compatibility

    Some existing and even new dimmer switches may not be compatible with LED lighting or you may have a non-dimmable light in a dimmable fixture. Carefully reading the labeling on your bulbs and fixtures and making sure you have the right bulb for the job can fix this. Dimmers also have wattage ratings which differ depending on the type of light source whether it is LED, incandescent, etc. This affects the number of light fixtures on a dimmer depending on the individual wattages of each. The practise of ganging dimmers or switches within the same back box will also further de-rate the wattage the dimmer can safely handle. A certified electrician will determine by referring to the Canadian Electrical Code the correct load permitted.

    Be sure to buy high quality with recognized certification (CSA, ULc etc.), ENERGY STAR® certified LED bulbs when upgrading your lighting in your home. 

 

How Your NB Power Home Energy Report Can Make You An Efficiency Expert

June 7 2018, 11:08 AM

How Your NB Power Home Energy Report Can Make You An Efficiency Expert

“The cheapest power is the power you don’t use” is a pretty good mantra at the beginning of an energy diet, or an energy efficiency journey, whatever you want to call it.

My husband and I have been on that path for a while now. For environmental and economic reasons we have been deliberate about what we consume and have put a lot of effort into using less power.

We thought we were doing very well, or assumed we were, anyway. It was an “I care, therefore I am” kind of approach to reducing the amount of power that we were  using -- I care therefore I must be using less power than everyone else.

But then we received our first home energy report.

The home energy report is a year-old initiative by NB Power to help New Brunswick households use less power. The idea is that if you actually understand how your power use compares to your neighbours’ power use you might decide to do something about it.

 

For us it was a bit more fundamental than that. Without an energy consumption benchmark, my husband and I could have gone on for years assuming that we were in the “green zone” and had nearly reached our capacity for household energy reduction. As it turns out, according to the energy report we’re pretty much in the middle when compared to comparable houses in our vicinity.  

NB Power’s home energy report has been our reality check, but it has also been a great source of info and guidance on our journey to reduce our household energy consumption.  

The online tool has been the greatest benefit. While the paper print out that we received in the mail is a simple snapshot,  the online energy report is a real resource.

If you truly want to reduce your household power consumption, for your pocketbook, the environment, or both, here are the sections of the online tool that I have found most helpful:

Under the tab “My Energy Use” you’ll be able to see your usage details, which parts of your home use the most energy and you’ll be able to compare your bills month over month or year over year. It’s this comparison tool that I find the most helpful. The tool factors in the number of billing days and the weather to provide a true comparison of your monthly spend. From there you can single out any behaviours or activities that lead to a change (or not) month over month.

 

Every step along the way offers ideas on how to use less power, including the top five tips for saving energy customized to your household (shaving an hour off shower time and ensuring our refrigerator seals are tight…) Many of the tips might seem like common sense (turn out the lights when you leave the room) but we can all use reminders from time to time.

 

Customers who interact with the tool online appreciate its value. That makes sense to me. The tool is empowering and encouraging and reminds you that there is always more you can do to use less power.

To get the most benefit out of the home energy report, visit www.nbpower.com/homeenergyreport and complete your household profile. From there you can explore the energy savings tips that make sense to your household. The data you submit includes how many people live in your home, the approximate square footage of your home, whether you use efficient light bulbs, how you heat your home, the age of your heating system, if you have a stand-alone freezer or a second fridge, the type of fuel your hot water heater uses, the kinds of electronics in your home, and more. 

(The information you provide not only creates a more accurate comparison for you, it enables the database to make more customized efficiency recommendations for your household, based on what uses the most energy.)

We shouldn’t expect power rates to drop -- that simply doesn’t make sense in the world today. Instead, focus on something that does make sense, and something that you can control, which is finding ways to use less power. If that’s your goal, the home energy report might be your greatest helper.

 

 

Bridget Oland is a Saint John-based green living blogger with a passion for sustainable living, gardening, and spending time with her two kids. You can find out more at Bridget’s Green Kitchen.

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