A flashing or flickering smart bulb could be not only an annoying issue but can also affect your mood and your health. Likely, you are searching for a way to fix the issue because it is driving you crazy, and you cannot stand another second of its incessant flashing.
Despite the fact that flickering is less frequent in smart LEDs, it is still a possible issue. Flashing smart light bulbs are a common electrical problem that may occur in any household.
Fortunately, addressing this issue is a simple troubleshooting task, but your approach must be based on the exact reasons for the flickering.
Replacing your household lights with smart light bulbs is an easy task. Still, sometimes you may encounter problems. Keep reading to find out what are the possible causes of smart light bulb flashing, how to troubleshoot the issue, and what are the possible solutions to implement.
Also read: Are all smart bulbs LED?
What Types of Flashing Occur with Smart Bulbs?
With the smart LEDs. same as with the older lighting options, there are two types of flashing – invisible flashing and visible flashing.
1. Visible flashing
The visible flashing is obviously the one you can notice with your eyes. This happens when there are rapid changes in the light output from a source. The human eye can perceive frequencies below 100Hz. Visible flashing raises some health concerns.
There are health concerns with visible flickering. Exposure to frequencies in the range from 3Hz to 70Hz can lead to epileptic seizures even if it occurs in the short-term (source).
The highest risk of epileptic seizures occurrence is posed by exposure to a light flashing in the 15Hz to 20Hz range. According to statistics, 1 in 4000 people suffer from a form of photosensitive epilepsy.
2. Invisible flashing
Invisible light flashing could be even a more serious problem than visible flashing (source). Invisible flashing occurs when the flickering happens but our eyes cannot perceive it.
The flashing remains invisible to our eyes if it occurs at a frequency above 100Hz. Among the possible symptoms are included impaired thought, eyestrain, migraine, headaches, and dizziness.
What Are the Possible Causes of Smart Bulb Flickering?
There are many possible reasons why a smart bulb could be flashing. A variety of other common issues can lead to smart bulb flashing, and understanding the specific issue will help you find ways to solve it.
- In general, flickering lights are caused by a household voltage fluctuation or momentary drop that causes dimming of the lights.
- Someone might have manually turned down a dimmer switch controlling the strength of current powering smart bulbs. This interferes with the capacity of smart bulbs to follow the automatic setup or the commands received.
- You may also have a wrong matchup between an older model of the dimmer switch and your smart bulb.
- Further, you might have another household appliance occasionally drawing power from that circuit, such as a fan, hairdryer or microwave oven.
- It is possible that you may have radio signals interference to a smart bulb or networked switch. You could also have a bad wire, switch, fixture, or smart bulb.
There can also be issues with network traffic. Unexpected results can occur when adding new smart bulbs or changing the schedule of a switch, causing resetting of the inner timers in some dimmers.
How to Troubleshoot Flashing Smart Bulbs
When troubleshooting flickering smart bulbs, there are several steps to follow. First, you have to find out what the reason for the flashing is. Once you discover what’s causing light flashing, you can proceed to fix the issue.
The five most common causes of smart bulb flashing are:
- An issue with the smart light bulb
- An issue with the smart bulb app settings
- A faulty fixture or light switch
- A loose light plug
- A house appliance that is drawing (on startup) large amounts of current, causing a voltage fluctuation or drop
Aside from these common causes of smart bulb flashing you may deal with a more serious electrical issue:
- Voltage fluctuations of the power line
- A circuit’s sensory overload
- Outdated or loose wiring
- An issue with the power utility service itself
- An issue with an outdated dimmer switch
Fix an Issue with the Smart Light Bulb Itself
If the smart bulb flashes constantly, the cause could be a defective device. As the smart bulb ages, all kinds of issues might occur. If your flickering problem is caused by a faulty smart light bulb, you can solve the problem by replacing the lighting device. This is a relatively cheap and easy task.
In order to replace a smart bulb, you have to first turn off the light. Unscrew the bulb from its fixture after you ensure it’s cooled down. Check the wattage listed on the light bulb in order to find the proper replacement.
Dispose off the defective smart bulb and install the new one. Ensure that the replacement light bulb is well-tightened into the fixture. Turn on the light and check if the new bulb is working correctly and the flashing is no longer occurring.
Fix an Issue with the Smart Bulb App Settings
If something goes wrong with the smart bulb app setup, this can cause the light bulb flickering . You may try troubleshooting the app but in case this gets too complicated or time-consuming, you can try a manual reset of the smart bulb app to its default settings.
Here is how to do it for some of the most popular smart bulb models:
- Belkin WeMo LEDs. For this smart bulb model you have to start with the LED on, then turn the switch off and wait one second before turning it back on. Wait for three to four seconds, then repeat the process two more times. After the third cycle of off/on, the smart light bulb will start to flash. This shows a successful manual reset. Once the WeMo LED is reset you have four minutes to pair it with a compatible control device such as the WeMo Link or the SmartThings Hub.
- Osram Lightify LEDs. In order to perform a manual reset of the Osram Lightify LED, you need to turn it on for five seconds, then off for another five seconds. Repeat this cycle five times. The smart bulb will start to flash, showing a successful manual reset it to default settings.
- Connected by TCP LEDs. To perform a manual reset of this smart bulb model you have to start with the LED off. Turn the power on/off for three cycles. The smart bulb will start to flash, showing that it was restored to its default settings. You can now add it to your TCP gateway.
- Cree Connected LEDs. The Cree Connected LED has a very simple manual reset procedure. You have to turn the LED off for two seconds, then on for another two seconds. The smart bulb will flash after the fourth cycle, showing a successful manual reset.
- GE Link LEDs. In order to reset this smart bulb model, you’ll have to cycle the LED off/on five times. Each time you turn on and off the switch, pause for three seconds. The LED will flash, showing that it’s restored to its default settings.
- Philips Hue LEDs. The Philips Hue API comes with limitations that do not allow a bulb to be deleted individually from the app or to be manually reset. You have to force the Hue Bridge’s factory reset. This procedure will delete all scenes and lights. Flip the Bridge over and hold down for a few seconds the “Restore Factory Settings” button in order to reset the Hue Bridge device to its factory default settings.
Fix a Faulty Fixture or Light Switch for Your Smart Bulb
A faulty connection between the fixture on-off switch or light switch and the smart light bulb can lead to flashing. In order to troubleshoot the connection, you have to turn the switch on and off.
You might have a bad light switch in case your lights dim when you turn on/off the switch. You’ll have to replace the entire socket in case the light switch is installed in a lamp socket. This requires some simple wiring, but, aside from that, it is a quite simple task.
If the smart bulb and the light switch seem to work correctly, then you might have an issue with the fixture itself. Take the smart bulb out of its current fixture and install it in a different one.
If you need to repair the faulty fixture, you may take it to a lamp repair shop if it’s not connected directly to your home. If it’s being connected to your home and can’t be moved, you’ll need to call an electrician.
Fix a Loose Light Plug for Your Smart Bulb
If the flashing issue occurs only in one smart bulb installed in a lamp then it might be caused by a loose connection between the outlet and the plug. Ensure that the lamp’s plug is inserted firmly in the wall power socket. In case you find out that the connection is loose, unplug it, adjust the plug’s metal prongs, and then plug it back in.
Another loose electrical connection can occur with smart light bulbs that are attached incompletely to the light fixture or aren’t screwed in all the way, resulting in flickering.
You can usually resolve this problem easily just by tightening the bulb. Just ensure the light bulb is cooled down before attempting to touch it. Turn the bulb clockwise in order to tighten it in its socket, but don’t apply too much force on its glass.
Fix Voltage Fluctuation for Your Smart Bulb
Another possible cause of flickering lights is a fluctuating voltage issue in your home electric circuit. Among its signs are included:
- Smart bulbs constantly flicker or flash when you turn on a home appliance
- Flashing continues even after you turn off the appliance
- Unexpected, unpredictable light dimming
- Your smart light bulbs frequently burn out
It is normal to have slight voltage fluctuations, in a range between 115 and 125 volts. To check the voltage in your home, you can use a tool called a voltmeter.
In case that the readings are above 125 volts, this might be the underlying cause of the smart bulb flashing. You have to call an electrician to fix your voltage problem.
Fix an Overloaded Circuit for Your Smart Bulb
In case you have noticed that the smart bulb starts flashing, blinking, flickering or dimming when you turn on a major electrical appliance like your hairdryer, air conditioner, microwave oven or washing machine, you might have a problem with an overloaded circuit. This means that these home appliances are drawing more electrical power than your home electric circuit can handle.
If the flickering is minor, infrequent, happens only briefly when the appliance is turned on, you don’t need to worry. As they start functioning, it is normal that a large appliance draws more electric power. The resulting voltage drop causes the dimming or flashing lights.
If the flashing is severe, occurs consistently, or doesn’t stop right away, the problem is more serious. The appliance itself might cause the issue. You may have too much sensory overload on your home electric circuit. Or, a motor bearing failure struggling to start, for instance, might pull more electric power. You need to call an electrician to check for the source of the problem.
Fix Outdated or Loose Wiring Connections for Your Smart Bulb
Another cause of smart bulb flashing can be a cord plug with bad electrical connections. Ensure that the cord plug is not loose in the outlet and it is in good shape. If the cord or the plug end is damaged you will have to replace it.
Loose wiring is not only a cause of smart bulb flashing but it also dangerous. Outdated wiring and loose wiring can lead to house fires. If you think you have loose wiring issues contact an electrician. It’s never a good idea to ignore wiring problems.
Fix an Issue with the Power Service Utility Itself for Your Smart Bulb
It is likely that your home shares an electric transformer with surrounding homes in your neighborhood. This means that your electric supply is affected by their loads. Your smart bulb flickering issue can be caused by a neighbor’s heavy power usage.
You have to call a professional electrician to locate the problem if the issue persists. If your neighbors experience flashing light issues as well, the problem might be with the power utility service itself. You’ll have to contact your power supplier and report the issue for repair.
Fix an Issue with an Outdated Dimmer Switch for Your Smart Bulb
A common source of smart bulb flashing can be an outdated dimmer switch. Current and older dimmer switches were designed for incandescent light bulbs. They might not work well with smart LED bulbs. If this is the case, you have to replace your old dimmer switch with one specifically designed and optimized for LED bulbs.
What is a Smart Bulb?
A smart bulb is an LED bulb that is internet-capable (source), allowing customized lighting. It can be remotely controlled and scheduled. Smart bulbs are replacing outdated lighting solutions, as part of the growing trend of Internet of Things (IoT) and smart home automation products.
With the integration of proprietary connections, ZigBee, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, smart bulbs are controlled through a home automation hub or a mobile app. They can be set up to change lighting output in any specific manner.
The smart light bulb’s internet connectivity allows using computing for implementing additional features such as presence-sensing capability, built-in speakers, and built-in cameras. Many smart bulb models enable controlling RGB color and brightness.
What Do You Need for a Home Smart Lighting System?
Smart home lighting systems are generally based on mesh networking. In a mesh network, each smart bulb connects wirelessly to its nearest neighbor. A hub plugged into your router controls the network, enabling other devices such as your tablet or phone to communicate with your smart light bulbs.
Some systems come with an “away from home” feature that enables the owner to control the smart lights from anywhere. Not all smart home lighting systems require a hub. For instance, the LIFX platform directly connects to your Wi-Fi.
Smart light systems can also come with additional items such as motion detectors or dimmer switches. They can be set up in some cases to follow complex rules. Certain actions can have particular triggers. For instance, you may be notified of receiving an instant message by a flash of color.
What Apps Work with Smart Bulbs?
Smart lighting systems can be controlled with tablet and smartphone apps, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) personal assistant apps such as Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and more. For instance, the Philips Hue system works with Google Home, Amazon’s Echo, and Apple’s HomeKit. You can use voice on an Apple Watch app controllable via Siri.
Using an app with a smart bulb is just one of the many features included with this piece of technology which moves your home into the next century. Smart bulbs that can be controlled by an app provide the user with an ability to manage their device from home or away (depending on the type of bulb). This added control gives the user power over his or her home in a way that traditional bulbs simply cannot.
What Kinds of Smart Bulbs are Available?
There are three main types of smart bulbs available: standard bulbs, spotlights, and candle bulbs. Standard bulbs feature bayonet or E27 fittings. Spotlights usually come with GU10 fittings, while candle bulbs commonly feature SES fittings.
Smart LED bulbs require less power. Candle bulbs and spotlights need 5.5W. Standard smart bulbs need 9.5W. There is a choice between color-changing smart bulbs and white ones.
The color-changing bulbs are more expensive and more complex to manufacture. While they might seem to be more fun, color-changing smart bulbs are more suitable for the occasional party but rarely fit as an everyday lighting solution.
White light smart bulbs are the most commonly used in home lighting systems. Various white light shades, with their diverse color temperature, have a particular impact on human psychological mood. For instance, the best in the morning is a shade of cool white closer to blue, as this particular color temperature has an energizing effect.
In the evening, it is best to use a warm shade of white light for it’s relaxing effect. However, keep in mind that not all white light smart LEDs allow a tune-up of the color temperature. You’ll need to check out their specifications.
What Are the Smart Light Bulb Features and Protocols?
In the smart bulb industry, there are three control technologies that keep competing for leadership:
- 1. Zigbee. Zigbee is one of the most popular protocols for smart-home networking. In order to communicate with the Wi-Fi network in your home, smart light bulbs using this protocol need a bridge. The Philips Hue lineup uses this technology.
- 2. Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi smart bulbs can communicate directly to your home Wi-Fi router. They do not require a bridge or hub. TP-Link and LIFX are among the brands that offer Wi-Fi smart bulbs.
- 3. Bluetooth. Bluetooth smart bulbs do not need your Wi-Fi home network in order to communicate with your tablet or smartphone. They use Bluetooth technology in order to pair and communicate with your device. The downside of Bluetooth smart bulbs is that they can be controlled only at a short distance, usually within your home. Among the manufacturers that offer Bluetooth, smart light bulbs are counted at GE and several others. The Philips Hue smart bulbs line has recently added Bluetooth devices. By eliminating the requirement to connect through a Philips Hue Bridge, this reduces the overall cost. However, the Bluetooth smart bulbs come with some limitations.
There are pros and cons to each of these communication technologies. Before choosing one for your smart home lighting system, it is recommended to research which one will work best for your particular needs. For instance, if you plan to connect your smart light bulbs into a broader smart home system such as Nest or SmartThings, using Bluetooth smart bulbs may not be your best solution.
While you can control with your tablet or phone more than one smart bulb, you won’t be able to connect it to other systems such as sensors in your home. If you don’t want to pair a smart bulb to your phone, you may just use a Wi-Fi bulb. However, if you need more options and features, a Zigbee product may be your best choice.
Do Smart Light Bulbs Save Money?
Yes, while the average cost of an incandescent light bulb is roughly $1 and the smart bulb roughly $8, the user has a variety of ways in which he or she will save money. First, consider one of the main purposes of purchasing a smart bulb: reduced energy output. The smart bulb will require roughly 75% less energy than a traditional bulb. Therefore, the user saves money in energy output.
Next, consider the lifespan of a smart light bulb. This product is said to last up to 25 times longer than its traditional competitor. With that in mind, the user will need to purchase new bulbs significantly less frequently saving the user money in the long run as well. While the average cost of an incandescent light bulb is roughly $1 and the smart bulb roughly $8, the user has a variety of ways in which he or she will save money.
Should I make the Switch to Smart Light Bulbs?
In deciding to switch to the smart light bulb, there are several factors to consider. One of the main concerns is likely money. While replacing each bulb in your home to a smart bulb can be a bulky task, the overall financial output will be reduced greatly over time.
To make the initial cost less daunting, consider changing one room’s worth of bulbs per month rather than transferring bulbs in the entire house. This will spread the cost out over time and make the switch feel less financially daunting.
Another benefit of switching to smart light bulbs is the energy output. This not only saves the user money but is better for overall energy usage in the home and, thus, the environment. If the user is environmentally friendly, this switch is a must.
Finally, the technological benefits of using smart bulbs will likely be a feature which the user realizes is transformational after the installation. Being able to manage the smart light bulb without having to touch the switch can add so many benefits to one’s life.
Especially with smart light bulbs which can be controlled outside of the home, the user has the ability to manage the lighting in their home without having to actually be there, providing both convenience and safety to the user.