Forum Thread

noticed florescent and led lights flickering

ReverseHandedJO 10,459 1,770 October 8, 2015 at 03:35 PM
over the last week the power company has been working on our street. last year they upgraded the transformer that we share with the neighbors (one). last evening i noticed the florescent and led lights would flicker every couple of seconds, but not noticeable in the regular older light bulbs. so i plugged in a kill-a-watt meter and watched the voltage. every couple of seconds it would change from x.3 to x.5. i ruled out our a/c and the neighbors old a/c by watching while they were on and off. so, should i call the power company and let them know. will they be able to measure the voltage coming in to our meter.

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#2
Quote from ReverseHandedJO View Post :
every couple of seconds it would change from x.3 to x.5.
I think you're trying to abbreviate something here, but what you wrote doesn't really make sense. Is the voltage fluctuating from 123VAC to 125VAC, is is varying by +/-0.3-0.5VAC, or are you trying to describe something else...

Are you sure you were measuring voltage with the kill-a-watt? It can measure many other things like power factor, amperage, wattage. Some small fluctuations aren't uncommon, the accuracy of the measurement is also a factor but the kill-a-watt is usually pretty good.

What type of lights, plug in lamp or hard wired light fixtures?

Are the bulbs on dimmers? Are the bulbs dim-able? You could always try the simplest solution, a different/new led or cfl bulb.

There are a lot of possibilities, I would try the kill-a-watt in several different rooms so you try different electrical circuits and hopefully different phases.
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#3
i think kill-a-watt is showing an average number. not real time enough.

how about the frequency? here in Brooklyn normally 59.9Hz
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#4
Buddy had a house that the lights would flicker when the person living there would use the washer.
ended up being the transformer. The house 3 doors down caught on fire
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#5
Quote from ReverseHandedJO View Post :
should i call the power company and let them know. will they be able to measure the voltage coming in to our meter.
I would certainly hope the power company could measure the voltage.....

Like others said the killowatt is a good consumer device but it's updates are slow only a few a second and averages them out. If you had a better multimeter then this would be a better test tool.

I am assuming you have tried different bulbs in different circuits. I have a bad bulb that flickers from time to time, its ok for a corner of a rarely used room but not good enough for a main work area in a kitchen. It took a while to diagnose. LED and CFL bulbs both actually run on DC power and should have some smoothing capacitors in them so it should be a little harder to see a lower voltage situation. (Also most LED bulbs will also run with less than specified to a point).

Anyways yes call the power company, have them come out, play a bit dumb at first it's likely the problem will be hard to diagnose unless it's doing it all the time.
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#6
things got rough last night for a little while and the ups were clicking over, but this morning everything is back to normal. so, it was nothing wrong here on our side.
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#7
Call your POCO. They will roll a truck to your house and check the voltage at your meter pan. If they can't find anything, ask them to install a recorder. They have a device that they can install between the meter and pan and leave it for a week or so. They come back and remove it then take it back to the office and download its data. This lets them see exactly what is going on.

I went through this a few years ago when every UPS in my house would trigger on an overvoltage condition at around 5 AM every Sunday. At first they kept telling me that none of my neighbors were reporting a problem. Then I showed them a printout of the occurrences and explained to them that my neighbors were quite unlikely to notice something that only the UPS systems were seeing. They went through my entire breaker box, checking the tightness of every screw-down connection. Their process from there was rather ignorant, as they next installed a bigger transformer feeding the house and ran bigger wire from the transformer to the meter. They wouldn't listen to my explanation of how neither of those things would explain such a well-timed occurrence. :o

Of course, that didn't fix things... They finally installed the recorder for a week, then took it back to the office. About a week after that they called me to let me know that using the data from the recorder they were finally able to track down a defective voltage regulator at a substation that fed into my neighborhood. Never had another problem with the power after that. Smilie

Anyway, you pay a lot for electricity. Call them and let them do their thing. Wink
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#8
Quote from ReverseHandedJO View Post :
things got rough last night for a little while and the ups were clicking over, but this morning everything is back to normal. so, it was nothing wrong here on our side.
I would call the power company, but there things that could go wrong with the wiring in your house that could cause voltage disparities but these would generally be more significant.

Talk to your neighbors! If any of them have noticed anything tell them to call too, it will dramatically speed up response time.

Quote from LiquidRetro View Post :
Like others said the kill-a-watt is a good consumer device but it's updates are slow only a few a second and averages them out. If you had a better multimeter then this would be a better test tool.

I am assuming you have tried different bulbs in different circuits. I have a bad bulb that flickers from time to time, its ok for a corner of a rarely used room but not good enough for a main work area in a kitchen. It took a while to diagnose.

LED and CFL bulbs both actually run on DC power and should have some smoothing capacitors in them so it should be a little harder to see a lower voltage situation. (Also most LED bulbs will also run with less than specified to a point).
To accurately measure transients you actually need an oscilloscope.

CFL bulbs actually use AC voltage, but often significantly higher than 120VAC and higher frequency than 60Hz. LED bulbs typically use DC although it generally isn't constant, typically it's more of a square. There are ways of using AC too. You're right these bulbs do have capacitors that smooth out power fluctuations, which is why swapping to incandescent can be helpful when chasing problems like this.
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Last edited by jkee October 9, 2015 at 02:49 PM

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#9
turns out the problem was 2 houses down where they had been working. so i was right not to go all hog wild as some here wanted,
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