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My 1st LED Bulb, Glows & Flickers when the lights OFF. I'm Lost/frustrated

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hi, Yes I said LED, not CFL. Hopefully someone here can direct me to help. I am so frustrated, I have tried to reduce our electric usage for over a year. I always was cautious about energy, but I became real strict a year ago. There are so many parts of my issues but I will start with the LED issue today. Anyone know much about LED? 

My home was built in 2003, we have lived here 2 years. Almost all the lighting has dimmable switches, not the twist but the ones you tap off. We do have some regular switch lighting outside on timers, and track in the kitchen that I rarely use. We had some motion/ timer lighting installed off the dimmers for rooms, for example my pantry goes on then off after 30 seconds, laundry room.. and my favorite the kids bathroom set for 6 minutes.

Okay, I am SO DONE with CFL I could ramble about my experiences with every brand and design, even with the dimmable ones.

We picked up a single LED bulb today to test before investing.

I put it in my bathroom light fixture above the mirror, next to 2 dimmable CFL bulbs. It works just fine when on... but it does not turn off.. it gives a glow. I went to check on it a little while ago, it sat off for a good hour. Its flickering! The light switch is completely OFF.

In my google searches for LED with dimmable switches, I am only finding hits about how they cannot be dimmable... which is FINE with me. I am trying to figure out if they just CAN work with them, a simple on and off... and if yes ... why wont it turn off all the way? 

I mean is there a low current that is running through my light fixtures, due to the dimmable wiring/switch, even when OFF? That is the only sense I can make with it, that there is something tiny going through the lines that only the LED that uses much less is picking up on it? Does that make any sense?

I don't know where to start. Where to ask, who to hire, you name it.

A similar issue is happening in another bathroom that is rarely used, that has a 4 bulb light fixture above the mirror.. all 4 CFL.. one for the past 4 days has flickered constantly as well when OFF.

I would hire an electrician but I have had bad experience there to, have not found a good one. Last winter my kwh were averaging nearly 4000 (yes thousand) kwh a month! I had 2 companies willing to troubleshoot my house. Nothing, no rare surges, came up empty. I am a kilowatt meter junkie on my on as well. Finally got a new digital electric meter installed outside (as a gift, they say it/old one tested 99% accurate) and my usage has dropped to approx 2000 kwh a month since that switch. Its crazy... yes the house is the new big but not insane 2900sf, yes it has a lot of un necessary lighting that we try not to use, though its hard because one switch does not work for a single light, in some rooms it puts 6 lights on... we have put countless hours and dollars learning and being more energy efficent. I hang my laundry on the line all sumer, you name it. I feel like our usage should be 600 a month. That is a whole other story to.

I guess my point is, I am frustrated, I was very excited about LED, knowing they were not perfect, knowing it will be a big adjustment in color, etc.. to have them flicker or be semi on when off, I feel like I hit a brick wall. Is it the LED, is it my wiring, is it normal, or out of line.

Thanks for reading if you made it through.

I just took a peek at it again, its glowing, just like a led night light in there, switch is off.
post #2 of 20
I know that CFLs can flicker when people have a programmable switch installed. Do you have one - I'm not sure if it would do the same with LED though. I'm not an electrician or wiring expert so if this was going on at my house I would call one.

Maybe someone more experienced with lighting will come along to help though :)
post #3 of 20
Try a lighting store - not a big box discounter. They should be able to explain what is going on.

I have had a problem similar to this but didn't bother to remember the details.  

Regarding the energy consumption - what kind of heating system are you using? What about water heating?

To control individual plugs  www.plugwise.com makes a module that works on RF. They are from the Netherlands but have expanded to the US.
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
We have a company hopefully coming tomorrow, as they said, no there should be no current running through...and there must be.. it still has a life of its own. This may finally explain our mystery. I can tell you we had our new digital meter installed in the spring, it started off at 0, its up over 10,000 kwh... lower but way to high.

We do plan to move next year (hopefully south), we figured our next home will be more of a type that we can fix up and we will have a lighting store do everything and go all LED. We have all type of green ideas, but feel a bit stuck right now with the house being newer, and its not really "home." Willing to invest in some things but not bigger ticket here.

The crazy part with our usage, is my heating, hot water, and 1 fireplace are GAS. Appliances (W&D) & lighting are electric.
post #5 of 20
A Kill A Watt meter that fits between an appliance plug and the wall socket would help you identify the large consumers and allow you to know what the major offenders are. Tghe URL for Kill A Watt is www.p3international.com they should be available in most big box stores by now as well.

An amp clamp type of meter can be used to check the current through individual wires to lighting etc. You must buy a decent type of instrument (Fluke brand or similar) of adequate precision. I have a cheaper Chinese meter and found that many of our consumers were magic - no current use which means the meter was useless. 

If one is building new 'home run' circuits where each lamp, plug or appliance is on a separate circuit allows the maximum control. Costs a bit more during installation but allows addition of automation where ever you want. It eliminates the 5 or 6 lamps on a single switch problem as well.

Good luck!

 
post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thank you! I will let you all know what we find out. I really hope they can fix and that I can move to LED bulbs. I think this single LED bulb let us clearly know that we do indeed still have some type of electrical problem here.

I do have a kill a watt meter, it is fascinating but has not helped me figure out where all the usage is but I do have all the details on every thing we plug in.

I will look into the clamp type of meter for my personal use! Thank you, I had not thought of that.  One electric company put an amp meter/reader last year, for a day on our breaker box/wires to try to find any strange surges of energy in the middle of the night or ? ... because all the troubleshooting in the daytime was not matching our actual usage.

I will keep that that type of home run circuit in mind on our next home project for sure. This house is just so frustrating, so much wasted, space, high ceilings, to many light fixtures, you name it. I learned what I don't like living here, waste :) 
post #7 of 20
Thanks Russ for chiming in - good ideas. Good luck mydestiny!
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
Just an update. My house has the smart home type wiring. Basically a panel that we never use up stairs that has lighting scenes that you can program, and have whole house light settings at a touch of a button. Each room has those dimmer switches connected to that.

So there is always a low current running through those so they talk. That explains the LED glowing. There is a little tripper under each dimmer switch that you can turn off.

My only way around this is to have regular switches installed for like 2 bucks, but it would take it off the smart system thingy... or stick with CFL or reg bulbs. I guess our special switches are approx 45 bucks each. Considering selling the home, it  makes sense to keep it in as it is right now. SIGH.

Oh.. between my first post we did buy several types of LED from Sams Club at approx 14 bucks a package. We tested them and they are good enough in some areas of the home. The ones I have in the lighting above my table, led 1.5 watts in work just fine, took out the 6, each 40w bulbs. Those for whatever reason do not glow on the dimmer switch. My cost approx 26 dollars to change those out. Not bad, and they are pretty.

Lastly, we did find one leak in our outdoor lighting, 30 volts hitting the one light pole, so 90 volts wasted in the ground. I don't know how to convert how much was lost there...but its getting fixed after the rain lets up.

Thanks all. One day we will be all LED, afraid it may be a few years.
post #9 of 20
Glad you found out what the issue is. Too bad there's not a workable solution though.
post #10 of 20

Some alternative answer, a bit late but anyhow:

- Even when a LED lamp is completely disconnected on one side, it can still glow. If the switch is situated between the neutral line  of mains and the lamp, there will be a 60Hz voltage difference between the conductive parts of your fixture and the surroundings. These surroundings have a potential (earth) close to the neutral line of your mains supply. There is a small parasitic capacitance between the wires of the lamp and the surroundings. This will conduct a small current. This current will not flow through the return line of your mains, and is not detected by a Watt-O-meter. A LED lamps needs very little current to start emmiting light , a current of 100uA can already be visible in dark conditions.

Possible solutions:

- Set the switch in the other Phase of mains.

- Use a double pole switch and disconnect both phase and neutral.

- Attach a small load parallel over the LED lamp. A 100K resistor might do the Job .

 

Warning: Do not modify your electric wiring unless you are both skilled and qualified for this !

post #11 of 20

Then my question is, while on OFF would the LED bulb use less electricity than a normal bulb (also off).

post #12 of 20

This is a theoretical question: The dominant factor in these currents is the capacitance between fixture and active mains wire. This is also present using incandescent lamps. The LED lamp has however slightly higher threshold so the dv/dt over the capacitor is less.In practice, a LED lamp that is disconnected from mains in the neutral line uses slightly less energy compared to an incandescent. Mind you: We are talking about uAmps range at 120VAC and large phase angle, probably a few mW. A passive MW radio antenna might recieve more energy than this.

 

It would be good advice in terms of energy savings to concentrate on equipment in standby mode ( adapters, tv sets, computers, TV-decoders, pumps within central heating systems ), and let's not forget airco's that working on when nobody is in. Put these off when not used. Put circuit breakers between PC's/ TV sets and do not use their standby mode . Makes also sense in terms of fire safety because old television sets have a tendency to ignite in standby mode. They are one of the more common sources of domestic fires.

 

post #13 of 20

My LED bulbs also glow with the light switch in the off position.  I know they use less electric when they are on but if they are "always on" even at a dim glow with the swith off arn't I wasting power? 

 

 

post #14 of 20

While I may not have been the seller of your product ... Yes, lol, they certainly don't light themselves =)  Are they on a dimming circuit, is the dimming switch bad?
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AGAPETUS View Post

My LED bulbs also glow with the light switch in the off position.  I know they use less electric when they are on but if they are "always on" even at a dim glow with the swith off arn't I wasting power? 

 

 



 

post #15 of 20

i realize this thread is old but i'm having the same problems.

 

I was very excited to go to Costco and purchase these LED light bulbs that claim to work at 2.5watts!

 

I am working on the third floor where all the wiring is new and i don't have the "glow" problem. Downstairs, however it appears in different rooms - dining room kitchen - but not the bathroom.

 

My concern is - am i wasting a lot of electricity by leaving them?

post #16 of 20

At 2.5 watts per bulb, you'd need to have each one running for 40 times as long as a traditional 100 watt incandescent to use the same ammount of energy.  At 12 pence per kilowatt hour (in the uk), you'd have to leave an LED light on for 400 hours to use a kilowatt hour.

post #17 of 20

Do you have two way switching? I am having a similar problem, and working on the theory, that elecetricity is being transfered by induction, as in two way switching one wire always remains active.

post #18 of 20

I believe the two way switching inductance is the problem. I have recently deployed  over 70 off 2.4W LEDs throughout as part of a modernistion program for my 1930s house. I have 2 x circuits with 2 way switching, - the dining area and the kitchen. The kitchen has a residual glow issue, but the dining room does not. The owner of the company I work for spent days researching this before he comfirmed the inductance issue - he has a large house with several glow issues. The amount of glow is actually dependant on how far the "Switch Live and Neutral" run parallel in the same cable, - the longer the run, the brighter the glow.

 

This can apparently be eliminated by a change to the wiring (wheteher its "electrically legal" I don't know) by running the Switch live and neutral in different cables, or indeed by putting a resistor (I don't have the rating to hand) between the conductors. I did actually order some from RS Components but cancelled the order after 5 months as they could not deliver.

 

I now have the ultimate solution  - ignore it! if we are talking of uA, the savings overall  make the residual usage insignificant.

 

I also use them in showerproof GU10 fittings protruding from my sofitts and in waterproof enclosures in the garden, all fitted with a photocell to swich on when the daylight fails - fantastically efficient. 

 

post #19 of 20

I have the same problem with my 1 watt LEDs.  I have three of them.  I only bought three of them because Walmart sold them for $7 each.  That is perfect for the three outside decorative lights in the front of the house. One watt of LED lighting is plenty of lighting since we have 3 of them. 

 

Now for the problem.  I have a Home Depot timer on my outside light circuit to turn them on at dusk and off at dawn, and it keeps track of time and daylight savings automatically.  As I mentioned I have three LEDs.  2 of them are one brand, 1 of them is another brand.  Two of them flicker when the timer is off, the one that is a different brand does not.  Walmart is now out of them so I cannot test other bulbs.  I also had a problem with these three lights when I had CFLs installed.  They would flicker at night when they were on.  It was as if I had 3 strobe lights on the front of the house so I had to remove the CFLs to try the $7 LEDs. 

 

One more observation...if I put a regular incandescent bulb in any of the sockets on this circuit (just one is all it takes) then the CFLs did not flicker at night when they are on, and the LEDs do not flicker during the day when they are off.  I suspect the pure resistive load dampens the transient voltages or ripples on the circuit.  This means the timer must put noise on the line whether it is gating the power or not.

post #20 of 20

Many AC dimmers are powered through the lightbulb by leaking current through the filament.  This is not enough to light up an incandescent but is more than enough to make an LED glow.

 

There are dimmers that require a Neutral wire that power the dimming circuitry from hot to neutral and do not leak through the light fixture.  Next thing you want to look for is that the dimmers are phase-adaptive.  This means they should work with incandescent, magnetic, and electronic lights (CFL and LED).  You'll never get perfect dimming because of the way they have to chop the AC power to dim the LEDs and they may still flicker a bit on very low levels or while dimming/raising but the neutral dimmer should solve the "nightlight" problem.  Lutron RadioRa2 RRD-6NA is a good example.

 

Check out LumenCache lighting if you're starting from scratch, building new, or have easy access to the back of your fixtures.  It solves all these problems and won't burn out your expensive LED bulbs like AC dimmers will.

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