LED lights flicker when plugging phone in?

Thread Starter

Frankisconfused

Joined Jan 18, 2023
10
Hi All,

hoping I can get some guidance here. I called an electrician to come out tomorrow and take a look, but my curious mind can’t rest til I figure this out:

we had a bunch of new LED lights (including the fixture), new dimmer switches, new outlets with USB outputs to sort of modernize the house.

only issue: whenever I plug in my phone upstairs, almost all the lights upstairs flicker exactly one time then go back to normal. Specifically they’re the lights in the hallway and bedrooms. I don’t notice the fluorescent lights flicker, but I’m guessing the LEDs are extra sensitive.

we tried removing the dimmer switches and an electrician came by and replaced the breaker switches at the panel, but no cigar. He also tightened all the screws behind the panel as well as pretty much All outlets and switches.

what gives? The electricians are telling me that we could just rewire the house to put all the lights on their own circuit since they currently share load with the outlets upstairs, but I feel like this isn’t a proper fix since the lights can’t be more than 300W combined. I don’t feel like it’s an overloaded circuit issue.
Anyone have any ideas?
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
16,988
Welcome to AAC!
only issue: whenever I plug in my phone upstairs, almost all the lights upstairs flicker exactly one time then go back to normal.
Does plugging in the phone mean plugging the charger into an outlet? Or connecting the USB cable to the phone?

If it's when you're plugging in the charger, is that outlet on the same circuit as the lights that flicker? Are all of the lights that flicker on the same circuit?

What is the total (real wattage) of the LED bulbs?

Have you had flickering problems before installing the LED bulbs? Did you have a problem with incandescent bulbs burning out quickly?
we tried removing the dimmer switches
Are the LED bulbs compatible with dimming?
 

Thread Starter

Frankisconfused

Joined Jan 18, 2023
10
Welcome to AAC!
Does plugging in the phone mean plugging the charger into an outlet? Or connecting the USB cable to the phone?

If it's when you're plugging in the charger, is that outlet on the same circuit as the lights that flicker? Are all of the lights that flicker on the same circuit?

What is the total (real wattage) of the LED bulbs?

Have you had flickering problems before installing the LED bulbs? Did you have a problem with incandescent bulbs burning out quickly?
Are the LED bulbs compatible with dimming?
The phone is connected to the wire and it happens as soon as I plug in the charger to the outlet. Only happens when a new load is plugged in. Could be any load from a phone with a charger to a tiny 15w fan.

yes LED lights are compatible with dimming. And they are 12W. So 20 bulbs are no more than 300W total on a 20A branch circuit. The outlets upstairs are on the same circuit as the lights.

and I don’t know if there was flickering before since we noticed them only with LEDs. They seem more apparent with LEDs.
Really worried about a loose wire somewhere in the wall from the previous owners.
 

Thread Starter

Frankisconfused

Joined Jan 18, 2023
10
Welcome to AAC!
Does plugging in the phone mean plugging the charger into an outlet? Or connecting the USB cable to the phone?

If it's when you're plugging in the charger, is that outlet on the same circuit as the lights that flicker? Are all of the lights that flicker on the same circuit?

What is the total (real wattage) of the LED bulbs?

Have you had flickering problems before installing the LED bulbs? Did you have a problem with incandescent bulbs burning out quickly?
Are the LED bulbs compatible with dimming?
Thank you for welcoming me.
I wanted to add; we also added like 10 new outlets, but these outlets were different: you just pushed the copper wire into a hole in the back of the outlet rather than screwing it down in a curl. Could one of these be faulty and causing a loose connection? I’m thinking there’s something loose somewhere?
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
16,988
So 20 bulbs are no more than 300W total on a 20A branch circuit. The outlets upstairs are on the same circuit as the lights.
Do all of the LED bulbs blink? Does it happen with fewer bulbs on?
The outlets upstairs are on the same circuit as the lights.
Must be an old house. I have outlets and overhead lights for 2 rooms and 2 bathrooms on the same circuit.
Really worried about a loose wire somewhere in the wall from the previous owners.
You're right to be concerned. I had an outlet that sparked when I plugged anything into it. It took me too long to get around to replacing it and the outlet fell apart when I was pulling it out of the box. It was the type that you pushed in the wires. but it was more than 20 years old when I replaced it.
we also added like 10 new outlets, but these outlets were different: you just pushed the copper wire into a hole in the back of the outlet rather than screwing it down in a curl. Could one of these be faulty and causing a loose connection?
It would be unusual for new outlets to fail so quickly, but I guess it could happen.

I think 10 outlets on a single 20A circuit is too many. When I did a kitchen remodel, the electrician put the outlets over the counters on 3 circuits with no more than 4 outlets on each. My island has 2 outlets and it has a separate breaker.
I’m thinking there’s something loose somewhere?
Are all of the blinking LED bulbs downstream from the outlet where the phone is plugged in?
 

Thread Starter

Frankisconfused

Joined Jan 18, 2023
10
Do all of the LED bulbs blink? Does it happen with fewer bulbs on?
Must be an old house. I have outlets and overhead lights for 2 rooms and 2 bathrooms on the same circuit.
You're right to be concerned. I had an outlet that sparked when I plugged anything into it. It took me too long to get around to replacing it and the outlet fell apart when I was pulling it out of the box. It was the type that you pushed in the wires. but it was more than 20 years old when I replaced it.
It would be unusual for new outlets to fail so quickly, but I guess it could happen.

I think 10 outlets on a single 20A circuit is too many. When I did a kitchen remodel, the electrician put the outlets on the counters on 3 circuits with no more than 4 outlets on each. My island has 2 outlets and it has a separate breaker.
Are all of the blinking LED bulbs downstream from the outlet where the phone is plugged in?
hi, yes all the LEDs blink just initially. At least all the lights on the circuit from what I know. Had my dad look downstairs at the kitchen lights and he didn’t notice any blinks.
Not sure if they’re down stream of the outlet though. I would guess they’re upstream but can’t tell for sure.

i read about a loose neutral in other threads. Could this be the issue? Perhaps a loose neutral in one of the many outlets. If it is a loose neutral, would I be able to isolate the issue by switching off all the breaker switches and turning one on at a time til I find the issue?

I should add that although there are like 8-10 outlets on the circuit, none of them are in use. I get this initial flicker with nothing On except the lights and plugging in the phone.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
16,988
Not sure if they’re down stream of the outlet though. I would guess they’re upstream but can’t tell for sure.
You can determine topology by checking the wiring on the outlet that causes the problem. You can disconnect the downstream wires and see what goes out. If you guess wrong, the outlet won't work. Make sure you put wire nuts or tape on the exposed wires so you don't get shocked.
i read about a loose neutral in other threads. Could this be the issue? Perhaps a loose neutral in one of the many outlets. If it is a loose neutral,
An electrician should have been able to determine that the first time he was working on the panel and the outlets/lights.
I should add that although there are like 8-10 outlets on the circuit, none of them are in use. I get this initial flicker with nothing On except the lights and plugging in the phone.
Have you replaced the outlet that causes the problem?
 

Thread Starter

Frankisconfused

Joined Jan 18, 2023
10
You can determine topology by checking the wiring on the outlet that causes the problem. You can disconnect the downstream wires and see what goes out. If you guess wrong, the outlet won't work. Make sure you put wire nuts or tape on the exposed wires so you don't get shocked.
An electrician should have been able to determine that the first time he was working on the panel.
Have you replaced the outlet that causes the problem?
multiple outlets cause the problem. It isn’t limited to one. The new ones and the old ones do it. Very weird.

Good to know about the topologies.
 

DickCappels

Joined Aug 21, 2008
10,224
When the air conditioner
Compressors in my house come on the lights blink since the copper drop from the power pole to the house was replaced by aluminum.

It might be that your charger has very high inrush current and combined with a possible longer run to the outlets upstairs that might cause the.cause the voltage to dip just enough to make the LEDs blink when the charger is plugged in upstairs.

in other words, the wiring has been checked out by an electrician and sometimes lights blink. Probably nothing to worry about.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
30,920
Here is something to try.

Disconnect the lights from its current connection and run an extension cord to the lights. This way you can eliminate the 10 outlets and power the lights from a different circuit. This will allow you to isolate the problem.
 

Thread Starter

Frankisconfused

Joined Jan 18, 2023
10
When the air conditioner
Compressors in my house come on the lights blink since the copper drop from the power pole to the house was replaced by aluminum.

It might be that your charger has very high inrush current and combined with a possible longer run to the outlets upstairs that might cause the.cause the voltage to dip just enough to make the LEDs blink when the charger is plugged in upstairs.

in other words, the wiring has been checked out by an electrician and sometimes lights blink. Probably nothing to worry about.
Thank you for the reply. The in rush from an AC I understand. But the in rush from a 10W phone charger? I’m having doubts..
 

Thread Starter

Frankisconfused

Joined Jan 18, 2023
10
Here is something to try.

Disconnect the lights from its current connection and run an extension cord to the lights. This way you can eliminate the 10 outlets and power the lights from a different circuit. This will allow you to isolate the problem.
Hmm. Can you elaborate? I’m sure that will solve the blinking issue, but the fact is the lights and outlets are wired together. And I guess what I want to know is if there’s a bad outlet somewhere.
The outlets work fine. It’s just when I plug something in, and that initial arc of electricity going from the outlet to my phone charger causes the lights to blink.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
30,920
Hmm. Can you elaborate? I’m sure that will solve the blinking issue, but the fact is the lights and outlets are wired together. And I guess what I want to know is if there’s a bad outlet somewhere.
The outlets work fine. It’s just when I plug something in, and that initial arc of electricity going from the outlet to my phone charger causes the lights to blink.
Are the lights independent or are they part of the outlet?
How are the lights wired to the outlet?
Show a photo even if it means pulling the outlet away from the wall.
Can you post a picture of the lights and outlets so we understand the issue?
Post the make and model of the light and outlet.
 

BobaMosfet

Joined Jul 1, 2009
2,115
Hi All,

hoping I can get some guidance here. I called an electrician to come out tomorrow and take a look, but my curious mind can’t rest til I figure this out:

we had a bunch of new LED lights (including the fixture), new dimmer switches, new outlets with USB outputs to sort of modernize the house.

only issue: whenever I plug in my phone upstairs, almost all the lights upstairs flicker exactly one time then go back to normal. Specifically they’re the lights in the hallway and bedrooms. I don’t notice the fluorescent lights flicker, but I’m guessing the LEDs are extra sensitive.

we tried removing the dimmer switches and an electrician came by and replaced the breaker switches at the panel, but no cigar. He also tightened all the screws behind the panel as well as pretty much All outlets and switches.

what gives? The electricians are telling me that we could just rewire the house to put all the lights on their own circuit since they currently share load with the outlets upstairs, but I feel like this isn’t a proper fix since the lights can’t be more than 300W combined. I don’t feel like it’s an overloaded circuit issue.
Anyone have any ideas?
Has anybody bothered to monitor voltage and current- and save that waveform, to see exactly what happens to voltage and/or current when you plug the charger in? It's not your wiring, it's how the charger is impacting the overall circuit. You might need an inrush current limiter to make the problem go away.
 

Thread Starter

Frankisconfused

Joined Jan 18, 2023
10
Are the lights independent or are they part of the outlet?
How are the lights wired to the outlet?
Show a photo even if it means pulling the outlet away from the wall.
Can you post a picture of the lights and outlets so we understand the issue?
Post the make and model of the light and outlet.
Thanks. I’m I will take this picture today. Answer the rest: the outlets And lights are in the same circuit for the rooms. The electric load is extremely minimal when this happens. Only 50W from lights. Then plug phone in and it blinks just at that initial arc when the plug hits the outlet. It’s got my mind boggled. Any ideas?
I’ll have to get you the exact name and model of the stuff. But we got the lights from Lowe’s and the switches and outlets from Home Depot.
 

Thread Starter

Frankisconfused

Joined Jan 18, 2023
10
Has anybody bothered to monitor voltage and current- and save that waveform, to see exactly what happens to voltage and/or current when you plug the charger in? It's not your wiring, it's how the charger is impacting the overall circuit. You might need an inrush current limiter to make the problem go away.
My electrician has a meter and stuck it in the wall. I saw 119V and didn’t see it dip at all when the phone plugged in. Is there something I can use at a high frequency to see this voltage dip recorded?

edit: so you don’t think it could be a loose wire Somewgere on the circuit causing it? That was my primary concern but the electrician said he checked it all… maybe there’s something he missed
 
Last edited:

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
30,920
My suspicion is that there is nothing wrong with the outlets.
Do you have a power bar with built-in noise suppression that is often used with computers?
Try plugging the phone charger into the power bar instead of directly into the outlet.
Experiment with plugging the phone charger vs using the power switch on the power bar.
 

Thread Starter

Frankisconfused

Joined Jan 18, 2023
10
My suspicion is that there is nothing wrong with the outlets.
Do you have a power bar with built-in noise suppression that is often used with computers?
Try plugging the phone charger into the power bar instead of directly into the outlet.
Experiment with plugging the phone charger vs using the power switch on the power bar.
We found the problem out. Turned out to be just a very sensitive LED fixtures. All 30 of ‘em do it. Switched brands and the problem is gone.
 
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