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Why Do LED Flashlights Flicker?

novembre 18, 2021

Why do LED flashlights flicker or blink?

Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) have been very useful, even since the 60’s. LEDs were first introduced in remote-control circuits, traffic lights, and for other Infrared (IR) light use. In today’s world, we use LEDs to brighten up our homes, backyards, work sheds, and more. We even use LEDs in our flashlights. 

LEDs operate on a frequency.  They actually naturally flicker faster than the human eye can see.  However, if you can visibly see an LED flashlight flicker, they most commonly flicker because they’re about to run out of batteries. Unlike older flashlights that start at 100% and slowly drain to 0%, LEDs are driven by a chip or semiconductor that keeps the light at 100%. For as long as the battery will let it, the LED will stay at 100%, flicker, then eventually die. 

From a longer lifespan, smaller sizes, and lower energy consumption, LEDs have a few memorable benefits over other light sources. For these reasons, LEDs are a favorite among light sources. LEDs come in numerous colors so they’re a great use for flashlights especially for outdoor hiking and hunting enthusiasts. 

As mentioned above, LEDs operate on a frequency.  People can see lights flashing on and off up to about 50 flashes per second (50 Hz) – they are most sensitive to time-varying illumination in the 10-25 Hz range. ... When a light is flickering at a frequency greater than 50 or so Hertz, most people can no longer distinguish between the individual flickers.  However, this article is not about the flickering you can't see, but rather a flicker you can see!

Don’t be caught off guard when your LED flashlight starts flickering and read on to find out why it’s flickering. 

Why is my LED Flashlight Flickering?

The simplest solution or cause of flickering LED flashlights is low battery power. Try changing/recharging your batteries before anything else to see if that’s the cause of the flickering. Also, make sure the batteries are in the right way. 

If low batteries are not your issue, there are, however, other reasons as to why your LED flashlight might be flickering. A flickering flashlight is a common sign that something isn’t right. 

How to Fix a Flickering LED Flashlight

LED Flashlight Repair

Here’s a list of the common causes of flickering flashlights and how to fix them:

Tighten the head and the tail. 

If you’ve dropped your flashlight or had it rolling around in the car or a bag, the head or tail end might have come loose. Try to tighten the ends and see if that helps. 

Check for dirt.

A Light Emitting Diode (LED) is what we call a semiconductor that emits light when current passes through it. Electron particles and holes carried by the current through the semiconductor combine to create the light source. 

If dirt is inside the LED, it will prevent the current from carrying the particles through it continuously and this will allow for flickering. 

Avid camper or outdoor enthusiast? You may have some dirt hiding inside the flashlight somewhere. Carefully take it apart, check for dirt, dust, mud, bugs, anything that shouldn’t be there, and clean it out. Remember to put the flashlight pieces back together exactly as they were and tighten any loose ends securely. 

Loose wiring

If you’ve dropped your LED from a fair height recently, open it up and check that the wiring to the LED hasn’t been damaged or moved around. 

LEDs can drain the batteries even when switched off.

Some flashlights can drain the batteries even when they’re not switched on. I always recommend taking the batteries out if you’re not planning on using your torch for a little while. 

Otherwise, if you’re getting ready for a camping trip and haven’t bothered to check the flashlight’s working because you know 100% you put new batteries in, you may find yourself out walking in the dark. 

Leaking batteries

Batteries leak and cause irreparable damage. Your flashlight might be flickering because it’s trying its hardest to emit light for you but leaking batteries will always win this battle. If the leak has caused damage to the components of your LED flashlight, your only option is to replace it. 

Leaking batteries in LED flashlight lanternLeaking batteries occur when they’ve been left inside the flashlight for too long without being used, have a broken battery casing, and if they’re not stored somewhere cool. The gasses inside the battery are volatile. 


What Causes Low Voltage LED Lights to Flicker?

The first thing you want to do is check that you have proper voltage.

Voltage

Low voltage lights mostly use an operating voltage of 12V (Volts) whereas LEDs typically operate between 1.8V and 3.3V. So, if you’re planning on swapping your halogen light for an LED or have already done so, you may have yourself a flickering light. 

This means the LED light isn’t compatible with the halogen fitting. You may need to replace your power supply with one that is more compatible with LEDs. You might also need to upgrade your dimmer to one that recognizes the lower voltage output. 

Electrical overloads will cause LED flickering in your home because of voltage fluctuations.

“In electronics, an LED circuit or LED driver is an electrical circuit used to power a light-emitting diode (LED). The circuit must provide sufficient current to light the LED at the required brightness, but must limit the current to prevent damaging the LED” – LED Circuit Wikipedia



Halogen VS LED

We’re all grateful for the scientists, Thomas Edison, Allesandro Volta and Joseph Swan, to name a few, for having been the inventors and founders of electricity generation and of course, the light bulb. Incandescent light bulbs have been in use and used in experiments since 1835. 

Halogen

Halogen light was the next best light in line from its incandescent ancestor founded by the abovementioned scientists. As evolution usually goes, technology gets better as the years go by and scientists have more materials and components to work with. 

  • 1959 was the first year that halogen lights were sold commercially. Over 100 years had passed since incandescent lights were first in motion so there were a few beneficial changes.  
  • Halogen emits more light than incandescent light and lasts longer. They use 20-30% less energy than incandescent lights and are fully dimmable. 
  • Halogen lights meet the new energy efficiency standards required by federal law. 

But this is where the Halogen ‘pros’ end. 

LED

LED lights have become a common replacement in many households and workplaces. Gone are the days that your eyes struggle to see in the garage with traditional low light output. LEDs are brighter, longer-lasting, and overall much more efficient and here’s why:

  • LEDs use little energy, 90% less energy to be more accurate, than conventional lights. Although more expensive than older lights, the energy savings are noticeable on your electricity bills within months. You can find this information at www.energy.gov/
  • LEDs are longer lasting. Compared to traditional incandescent lights that last anywhere between 1000 – 2000 hours (Approximately 83 full days), LEDs can last up to 50,000 hours (2,083 full days). It’s a huge difference that makes a dramatic impact on your electricity bill as well as your fixture replacement allowance. 
  • LEDs don’t dim when you turn them on and off. They either have light, or they don’t. Flickering can be a sign of LEDs finally having used their lifespan. When switched on, incandescent lights are usually dim, slowly getting brighter. When they start to get to the end of their lifespan they again start to dim. 
  • LEDs don’t produce much heat which also assists in lengthening their lifespan. The more heat emitted means the bulb wears out sooner. 
  • LEDs work great in low temperatures.

Conclusion

LEDs are the most popular source of light and it’s easy to see why. They are durable, efficient, and great energy savers. If your LED flashlight is flickering, first and foremost check your batteries. If your LED household light is flickering, check the compatibility of your power supply with LEDs or have an electrician check it out asap. 

You can have a look at our range of LEDs lights here at https://stkrconcepts.com/ and read our other blogs for more information on LEDs and LED flashlights.

Definitely buy quality LED flashlights from reputable companies based in the USA.  Make sure they have a warranty and good customer service.  No name brands from China, often purchased on Amazon, may offer warranties but they will be worthless after the 30 day return period from Amazon is over.  


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