Light Bulb Dimmer Compatibility

Please help me find household lighting dimming that doesn’t flicker or hum! Please email or comment if you can help me.

I am sensitive to light bulb flicker (previously) including all the new LED tail lights on cars and household light bulbs and dimmers that use flickering (PWM or Pulse Width Modulation) to control their brightness.

It is a very real problem. While driving, it is extremely distracting; when I turn my head quickly, LED tail lights look like police flasher lights. And at home, a light bulb that is set to dim is soothing on my eyes except for the constant BZZZZZZ!! of the light flickering. Not fun.

Lights don’t have to flicker. They flicker because companies take shortcuts that make their lighting less expensive. In brief, instead of smoothly decreasing how much power the bulb gets, they turn the bulb on and off really quickly, fast enough so most people don’t even notice it. But I notice it. :-(. You might want to look up the concept of flicker fusion threshold for more reading.

I am willing to pay more for good lighting that doesn’t flicker. The problem is, I can’t figure out who to pay. Can you help me find household lighting dimming that doesn’t flicker or hum?

Here is a letter I wrote to Lutron (one of the biggest lighting control suppliers in the US) the other day and their (very sad) response:

I am looking to outfit my home with flicker-free and noise-free dimming lighting controls. Can you help?

I have tried using the Credenza Lamp Dimmer with an incandescent bulb and the flicker at low brightness doesn’t work for me. I have also tried using in-wall dimmers with LED lighting and both the flicker and noise of the system was bothersome. It is clear that the bulb and dimmer must be well-matched but I have yet to find a reliable way of matching them.

Here is Lutron’s response:

Application Group via
We really cannot tell you what to use. The reason for that you can get flickering or buzzing noise from any of those lamp types. And it has to do with the quality and compatibility of the dimmer with the bulbs. You really won’t know what you get till you have wired it up together. With incandescent if you have poor quality bulb you could get buzzing noise. With CFL these bulbs are typically a noisy bulb and you have to match the correct bulb with dimmer. And even with that they are still noisy. And with LEDs you really have to match up the dimmer with the bulbs and you may still get noise and flickering and that may be normal. It really is a trial and error. We have a list of CFL and LED brand and model of bulbs that we have tested and can say will work with our dimmers but that does not mean that you won’t get flickering or even buzzing noise from the dimmer or bulbs.

Lutron Tech Support
Lutron Electronics, Inc.

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