Why Are My Lights Buzzing?

Posted On: March 15, 2016

Hearing your lights buzzing whenever you turn them on can be extremely irritating, whether it’s a loud buzzing or a low hum. It can occur no matter what type of light bulbs you are using, whether you’ve got incandescent bulbs or LED bulbs. Buzzing can be caused by electrical shorts or loose fixtures. While you can fix loose fixtures yourself, electrical shorts should only be repaired by professionals.

However, the most common reason that your lights are buzzing is because of the voltage being applied to the bulb. This isn’t necessarily the fault of your bulb – it can be caused by other devices that are sharing the same electrical line. Fortunately, that buzzing sound isn’t too difficult to get rid of.

Incandescent Light Buzzing

For the most part, incandescent light bulbs are very quiet. The only time they typically make noise is when you have a dimmer installed on the fixture in question. The way that a dimmer works is that it removes some of the voltage from the line so that the amount of energy reaching the incandescent light bulb decreases, thereby dimming the light output.

The thing is, regular application and removal of voltage ends excites and cools the filament. When this happens, it results in the vibrations that are causing that buzzing sound.

The best way to ensure that the light doesn’t buzz is by using rough service bulbs. Rough service bulbs have a more supported filament that will end up reducing the vibration, thereby silencing the buzzing sound.

Fluorescent Light Buzzing

Fluorescent lights are known for two things when it comes to common problems – flickering and buzzing. A buzzing fluorescent light may just need to be replaced, but it could also be caused by an old ballast.

The ballast is the device that is used to regulate a fluorescent light’s voltage. Similar to the buzzing caused in incandescent bulbs, buzzing in fluorescent lights with older ballasts are occurring due to the constant re-striking that happens when the ballast is no longer able to regulate voltage properly.

If you’ve tried replacing the fluorescent bulb and it’s still buzzing, then replace the ballast. Avoid using a magnetic ballast as these use metal plates that vibrate in addition to an electromagnet field that generates its own hum. An electrical ballast or a ballast that boasts a class A rating will eliminate the sound.

LED Light Buzzing

Unlike incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, LED bulbs do not have filament or firing arcs, which means that they have no moving parts that can cause a buzzing sound.

However, they can still produce a buzzing sound due to improper dimming or electromagnetic interference from other devices.

Always make sure that the dimmer you are using is compatible with LEDs to ensure there’s no humming sound.

Call a Professional Electrician In Maryland

If you live in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, DC and have tried replacing your light bulbs, but they are still producing buzzing sounds or if you suspect that you have an electrical short, then schedule an inspection with Jaffe Electric today.

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