Why Does My Lighting Fixture Buzz?
Clear light bulb image by simbolocoma from Fotolia.com
Electric lights are vital to our lives, keeping us happy, healthy and productive. But sometimes, they can also annoy us by buzzing loudly. Buzzing lights aren't generally a serious problem, but they can be incredibly annoying. Here's why they buzz, and what you can do about it.
Fluorescent lights are famous for the faint buzzing sound they make. This is because each light needs a way to control the electricity flowing through the fluorescent tube, called a "ballast." The ballast creates a magnetic field that alternates the current in the wire, ensuring the light doesn't accept too much electricity. You generally find this problem on older fluorescent fixtures, which use an inductor for a ballast. Newer fixtures use a quieter electronic version.
- Fluorescent lights are famous for the faint buzzing sound they make.
- You generally find this problem on older fluorescent fixtures, which use an inductor for a ballast.
If an incandescent bulb is buzzing, there can be several reasons. A common one is that the bulb is simply not getting enough voltage. If a bulb with a higher voltage is screwed into a lower-voltage socket, the resistance will make the filament vibrate as the current fights to get through the wire. The solution in this case is to simply switch in a lower-wattage bulb, which will have less resistance.
- If an incandescent bulb is buzzing, there can be several reasons.
- A common one is that the bulb is simply not getting enough voltage.
If a bulb is buzzing and swapping it out doesn't work, check to see if it's on a dimmer switch. Dimmers essentially shut the light on and off very rapidly, and this can put a strain on some bulbs, causing the filament to vibrate. Bulbs designed for outdoor use should be able to handle being on a dimmer switch, or you can simply turn the dimmer up, which will also solve the problem.
If you've changed the bulb and put the dimmer up on full and there's still a buzz, it may not be the light bulb at all. It may be an electrical short, which is very common. Shorts can be caused by animals gnawing on wires, outdated wiring and many other factors. If the buzzing comes not from the bulb or the switch but somewhere in the ceiling or wall, you likely have an electrical short.
- If you've changed the bulb and put the dimmer up on full and there's still a buzz, it may not be the light bulb at all.
- If the buzzing comes not from the bulb or the switch but somewhere in the ceiling or wall, you likely have an electrical short.
Only qualified electricians should change out light fixtures or look for electrical shorts. Electric safety should always be practised even when dealing with a light bulb, as there are real risks. If you're not comfortable doing something or not sure what you're doing, don't do it.
How to wire headlights and parking lights to a toggle switch→
How to Repair LED Light Circuits→
How to replace the transformer on a low voltage recessed can light→
How to make a simple circuit for kids using a battery and wire→
How to fix buzzing from fluorescent lighting→
How to install an in-line light switch→
Dan Seitz has been writing professionally since 2008. He has been published on Cracked.com, Spike.com, AMOG.com, OverthinkingIt.com, Zug.com, TheDeadbeat.com and Gunaxin.com. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in theater and is currently earning his Master of Arts in film at Emerson College.