Silence the Hum Noise From Dimming Switch Lights

Silence the Hum Noise From Dimming Switch Lights

Taryn Williford
Feb 14, 2011

If you think your dimming media room light is trying to communicate with you in some alien language, well, you might just be right. That, or the filament in your light bulb is vibrating and causing an audible hum sound. We can't help you with the alien thing (maybe this thing can help), but the humming light is a cinch to solve. Check it out.

When you "dim" the lights in a room, you're not actually lowering the luminosity of your bulb. Your dimmer switch is just telling your light to flash on and off really quickly—up to 120 times per second. The bulb sheds the same amount of light, just for short bursts, giving the illusion that the lights have gotten dim.

Well that on-again-off-again relationship you have with your media room lights can cause some—but not all—light bulb filaments to vibrate and give off a humming or buzzing sound.

So how do you fix it? We thought you'd never ask:

  • Switch to "rough service bulbs." They're the ones designed for use in refrigerators and garages and can be found in most any hardware store. Rough service bulbs have sturdier filaments that won't vibrate as much as the ones in your humming light fixture.
  • Avoid overlamping. Remember when we covered the basics of overlamping last week? Well dimmer switches are also rated for wattage. Stay well below the recommended wattage for your dimmer switch to make sure it isn't struggling to cover the load.
  • Grab a better dimmer. You get what you pay for. If you bought an inexpensive dimmer switch, you might have more of a buzzing problem than the Joneses down the block. Keep up and get yourself a high-end dimmer switch—one that includes internal components that absorb some of the jolts produced by the on-and-off light cycles.

(Images: Flickr member Brian E. Ford licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member maniacmartin licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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