Flickering Lights

I am not talking about the Danish Comedy Film released in 2000; ‘Flickering Lights’. In fact, we are going to talk about the common issue of the frequent flicker of lights in your home or in the street and what causes it.



You see, what I am referring to is specifically, the fluctuation of lighting in correlation with appliances turning off and on. Most of the time, what you might experience is a bad bulb or a near fuse. In that case, just replace your bulb to end that. But if the whole house flickers in complete correspondence, then it’s a bigger problem.

Sometimes, this is considered normal (mostly in stormy weather) and does not mean much of any harm. However, if the weather is all well and good, then the problem rests in the power supply and can be dealt with.

So basically, the ‘flicker’ I am talking about happens mainly due to some connection problems in the power supply. Therefore, the switch box or outlet is usually responsible for the flickering of lights. You can confirm that if only the lights and appliances controlled by that section go out spontaneously. Some lights also need a dimmer to work properly with power sources i.e. low voltage and fluorescent lights.

Doing some research will lead you to knowing exactly what part of the power is fluctuating. If you spot a single circuit which is faulty, you can find the problem at its breaker. Though, if only a few lights along the circuit are flickering, than the problem lies in the circuit itself and not the breaker connection. Yet, I have seen that the connections are more probable to become the cause of flicker.

However, in severe cases, many circuits may seem affected. You should know that at this moment, it is hardly the issue within your circuits, but it is your main power supply with the problem. You might want to check your main controlling breaker or the meter. Sometimes, the company line of power supply might also be damaged. In that case, you must take action to replace or repair these damages immediately, because they might cause other problems as well and may damage your household appliances due to varying voltages.

But what exactly is the core problem inside it all which causes the breaker or circuit to produce a flicker? Let’s see the main causes of flickering lights:

Resistance

The wires controlling your lights in the circuit have resistance. This is necessary to control the amount of voltage being sent to various appliances and prevents any burnouts. But it also causes flickering when things turn on and off through your circuit. This means that turning off a toaster connected to the same circuit as the light, will cause the light to flicker as the voltage to it changes for a brief moment.



‘In Rush’ Current

This is basically the term used to define the current that any appliance needs to start up. Some bigger and more electricity consuming appliances, like a fridge or an air conditioner, also require a larger amount of basic current to start up. This ‘In Rush’ current causes voltage to drop significantly in other areas of the circuit as current is being used up for the startup of that specific appliance. This results in a flickering of lights.

Issues which are represented by flickering lights can be really damaging. I mean that the flickering does not cause damage itself, but what causes the flickering also creates other issues. For e.g. if a circuit connection goes loose and causes lights to flicker, it becomes a high resistance point. This means that that point is going to start heating up. This may cause a complete rupture in the circuit and needs to be dealt with immediately as it can also cause an explosion.

Although not as serious, but a switch might fail too, due to bad connection. Or in extreme cases, when the main supply is affected, some of your neighbors might experience problems too.

All in all, it is basically an indication, and not a problem in and of itself. Though, it can get really irritating to the eye and can be fixed quickly. It can be hard to spot the source of the flicker, but once that’s done, the hard part is over. Your electrician can fix it up for you in no time.

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