Tips for Troubleshooting a Buzzing Dimmer Switch
A fix for buzzing dimmer switches may be as simple as investing in new light bulbs. First figure out if the noise is from the switch or the bulbs. The voltage actually increases when you dim the light. A dimmer switch works by breaking up the AC current faster than our eyes can see, between the switch and the light. This creates an electromagnetic effect which can cause vibrations in the switch or the bulb. That effect is what you hear as a buzz or hum.
Dimmer switches are rated at the amount of wattage they can handle. The more expensive triac switches, or even fancier dimmers that use an autotransformer instead, have a built-in filter which evens out the current. Like any product, you get what you pay for, so a professional opinion is worth seeking.
A hum that comes from the switch itself means that it is old, or cheap, and cannot handle the increased voltage. If it is a noisy switch, try lower wattage bulbs that won’t overload it. You may also want to consider the combined wattage from multiple bulbs, in a lighting piece such as a chandelier. Remove a bulb or two and see if the hum reduces. Additionally, if you always want lower light in that area, choosing lower wattage bulbs may create the mood you are looking for without stressing the switch.
If the buzzing is from the light itself, switching to shop or standard grade bulbs may stop it. Light bulbs built for prolonged use have thicker, shorter filaments, allowing them to sustain longer periods of high-intensity lighting. Decorative bulbs are more likely to hum, because they have longer filaments. LED bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs, even the “dimmable” sort, won’t work with an old dimmer switch and will likely continue to buzz. A new, high quality dimmer switch is the only way to utilize the life and efficiency of modern bulbs.
If the noise continues after troubleshooting, then you have an old or broken switch that needs to be upgraded. Problems in the building’s wiring may also be overloading the switch. Changing light bulbs is easy, but changing out an old dimmer switch is more complicated and requires professional assistance.
Even for clever fix-it types, there is one sort of home repair we all should leave to the pros: complex electrical jobs. What sounds easy in an online home repair seminar can go wrong quickly. Call in the local experts at Prairie Electric. They can assess your home’s existing wiring, safely disconnect from the grid and guarantee proper installation. Prevent fatal injuries, or expensive damages like frying your computer and alarm systems, that happen with DIY electrical repair. No job is too small for their crew, and Prairie Electric sells and installs only top-quality parts. Contact them at 1-800-573-2750 or www.prairielectric.com for an honest professional opinion and the best service available.