Why do fluorescent lamps hum

LED lamp hums, buzzes, whistles or whistles? What can it be?

The newly acquired LED lamp lights up, but does it attract attention with a humming, buzzing, whistling or whistling sound? Such noises are quite annoying and can get on your nerves. In this article you will find the causes of the annoying "sound" and how you can take remedial action.

Table of Contents

LED lamp hums, buzzes, whistles or whistles?

Some LED lamps not only generate light when they are in operation, they also make noise. The "sound" can be different and is often described by different people as follows:

  • Hum
  • to hum
  • Whirring
  • Pipes
  • Beeping

Such noises when you have just bought an LED lamp often cause astonishment and annoyance. High-frequency whistling in particular is often perceived as tinnitus, especially by younger people. Humming noises normally occur with a frequency of 100 Hz, i.e. twice the mains frequency. However, even a faint hum, for example in the living room lighting or above the dining table, can be very annoying.

Is the humming lamp broken?

The noises such as whistling or humming are indicative in most cases Not on a defect. The effect can have various causes or be favored by certain conditions. That is also the reason why one and the same LED lamp does not necessarily make noises to every buyer.

Which lamps are affected?

In my experience, noise can occur with all LED lamps. It does not matter whether it is cheap non-name lamps or branded goods. Nevertheless, the noname products tend to have such side effects, which is certainly due to the cost savings in production.

Can damage occur?

Even if the humming and whistling noises seem strange at first, in most cases they have no effect on the operation of the lamps. As a result, a shorter service life is not to be expected.

Causes and remedies

The main cause of the noises is usually the ballast of the LED lamp. The electronic ballast is integrated in LED lamps; in LED ceiling lights, for example, the ballast is usually located in the base. This electronics consists of several components. These include:

  • Switching power supply
  • Coils / chokes
  • LED driver

The switched-mode power supply generates the operating voltage for the LEDs from the 230 volt mains voltage. This part of the electronics contains, among other things, a small transformer for transforming (converting) the voltage. There are also some coils or chokes for temporarily storing energy and avoiding EMC interference. The LED driver usually contains capacitors to smooth the voltage.

If you can now hear a humming or hum, this usually occurs at a frequency of 100 Hertz. This corresponds to twice the network frequency. Current peaks occur 100 times per second. The components can thereby be excited to oscillate or vibrate.

High-frequency noises can be generated by the switched-mode power supply. Such power supplies work with a switching frequency in the kilohertz range, which means that the components can also be excited to vibrate. Sometimes the switching frequency is still in the audible frequency spectrum.

The manufacturers try to prevent the components from vibrating, for example by soaking them in resin. Depending on the structure of the electronics and the selection of the components used, the vibrations generated can also be audible outside the lamp. The occurrence and the intensity depend on certain circumstances. The most common problem cases and causes of the noises are described below.

Light source makes noise

If the LED light source emits annoying noises, the only solution is to replace it with a lamp of the same design but from a different type or manufacturer. Exchanging it for a completely identical model of the same type and manufacturer only provides a remedy in the rarest of cases.

The lamp on the dimmer is buzzing

When operating LED lamps on a dimmer, a number of difficulties can arise. The occurrence of a low frequency hum is a common problem. You should first check whether the prerequisites for trouble-free operation are met:

If you use both a dimmable LED lamp and a suitable LED dimmer, some dimmer / lamp combinations can still generate a hum. The noise occurs either only in the dimmed state or partially also with full brightness. The first thing to do is determine if the dimmer or lamp is causing the hum.

You can simply screw / plug an LED lamp into another lamp without a dimmer for testing. If the lamp makes noises here too, you should exchange it for another model.

In the case of permanently installed luminaires, the test is not so easy without a dimmer. For example, the luminaire can be connected to another connection without a dimmer. Danger: Work on the electrical installation may only be carried out by qualified persons. If the LED light makes noises even without a dimmer, the only solution is to replace it with another model.

Dimmer causes hum

If you can no longer hear a hum from the lamp or the lamp when operating without a dimmer, the cause is at first glance with the dimmer used. From a technical point of view, however, dimming LED lamps is quite complex.

Replacing the dimmer with another model such as the Busch-J├Ąger 6523 U-102 can help. However, it could just as well be that a different type of lamp no longer makes any noise when operating on your dimmer. The only thing that helps here is to try out different lamp / dimmer combinations.

LED ceiling light is buzzing

With some LED ceiling lights with integrated light sources, a humming noise can be heard during operation. As previously described, the cause is the ballast. This is built into the base of most ceiling lights. Even if the ballast itself barely hums audibly, the base of the luminaire serves as a resonance body in some constructions. This amplifies the hum and can be heard throughout the room.

You should first check that the ceiling lamp is correctly installed and that all screws are tightened. Otherwise, the base could resonate well, especially with metal constructions, and serves as a sound body. If there is no improvement, only an exchange will help.

Exchange whistling lamp?

If the LED lamp buzzes or whines too loudly, only an exchange will help. In my experience, the noises with several lamps of the same type are sometimes differently pronounced. However, it is hardly to be expected that no noises will be heard at all when exchanging for the same type of LED from the replacement unit.

Exchange for another model

Only an exchange for a different lamp model from the same manufacturer or at best even from a different manufacturer makes sense and promises improvement.

The problem with an exchange or return, however, is that the noises are not necessarily regarded as a defect. Some manufacturers try to avoid responsibility. Some local dealers are also stubborn. In addition, not everyone can hear the noises during a test in the store. The problem is practically passed on to the customer. After all, the lamp shines perfectly.

Online purchase as an alternative

Online trading is the best way to easily return a humming or whistling LED lamp. Thanks to the 14-day right of withdrawal, annoying lamps and bulbs can be returned to all reputable online shops without any problems.

Conclusion - humming and whistling is annoying

The buzzing or whining with LED lamps is not an isolated case. It is not a problem for the operation of the LED lamps, but can be very annoying in quiet surroundings. In order to have peace of mind, in most cases the only thing that helps is swapping the light source or luminaire for a silent model.