Why CFL Lamps Flicker in Motion Lights

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How to Prevent Security and Motions Lights from Flickering

How to Prevent Security Lights from Flickering

Electrical Question: Why do my CFL lights flicker when controlled by a motion sensor switch when it is in the “auto” mode? I changed the lights back to incandescent and everything seems to work properly.

This electrical question came from: Bob, a Homeowner from Chatham, Ontario, Canada.
See more about Home Wiring for Canada

Additional Comments: Great website

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Bob.

Prevent Your  Security and Motions Light Fixtures  from Flickering

Problems With CFL Lamps in Motion Sensor Fixtures

  • CFL Lamps and Motion Sensors
  • Bob, some CFL lamps will not work with motion sensor light fixtures, and because of the high number of times the light fixture may turn on and off it will shorten the life of a fluorescent lamps anyway.
  • It is best to use incandescent lamps with motion sensor light fixtures.


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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

4 Responses to “Why CFL Lamps Flicker in Motion Lights”
  1. I didn’t know this, thanks!
    Is there a way to tell which CFL lamps will work and which won’t?

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Great Question about CFL Lamps and Motion Lights,
      With all the advances in lighting that is taking place, I am seeing great options with various LED lights, and many of these can be dimmed down to about 20 % which should be fine for most applications. LED lights start instantly and do not seem to be affected by cold temperatures like some fluorescent type lamps.
      It is exciting to see the advances in energy alternatives and the electrical devices that we commonly use, such as lighting. Perhaps one day we will see fluorescent and many other types of lights that will be phased out only to be replaced by LED lighting.
      I look forward to the day when we will all have a self-sustaining electric home and vehicles, and I believe that time is fast approaching!

  2. don moser says:

    My security light also flickers, and I have replaced both bulbs with the exact bulbs I have used in it for the last 1-2 years. Even with the brand new bulbs the red light blinks on when it detects motion but both lights flicker. What else can I do?

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Don,
      Sometimes a component inside the motion light may go bad, especially if the motion module gets unusually wet. However before replacing the light fixture I would double check the lamps to be sure they are either incandescent, LED, or halogen type that are equivalent or less in watt output as the original lamps. When changing out the lamps make sure there are no obstructions or corrosion inside the lamp holder base which could interfere with the contact with the lamps.
      Let us know what you discover,


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