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Electrical Wire and Cable

Why CFL Light Bulbs Flicker

Remote Control Units May Cause CFL Bulb Flicker: CFL lamps must be compatible with the light fixture and controlling device or switch where the CFL light bulb will be installed – Double check your wiring connections just to make sure, however I have a light fixture that is controlled by a motion sensor and the lamps are CFL too, and the light flickers when it is supposed to be off as well.

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Flickering Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb

Electrical Question: We have a ceiling fan that has a Harbor Breeze Remote Control and a CFL Lamp.

Any help would be appreciated.

This electrical wiring question came from: Dirk, a Homeowner from Madera, California.

Additional Comments: Really cool if it works!

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Dirk.

Remote Control Units May Cause CFL Bulb Flicker

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, a non-aluminum ladder.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work on a ladder and access to the light fixture(s).
Precaution: Identify the light control and turn the fixture OFF and wait for the bulb to cool before exchanging light bulbs.
Notice: Changing or modifying the original fixture design may void the UL approval and affect the warranty of the light fixture. Changes in light bulb type must not produce more heat which could damage light fixture components or the area of the light fixture installation.

CFL lamps must be compatible with the light fixture and controlling device or switch where the CFL light bulb will be installed

  1. Double check your wiring connections just to make sure, however I have a light fixture that is controlled by a motion sensor and the lamps are CFL too, and the light flickers when it is supposed to be off as well.
  2. I believe it is because the lamps are CFL and the control module is getting the neutral through the electronic circuitry of the CFL lamps.
  3. This method works fine if the bulb were a standard incandescent light bulb, but not as well with the CFL lamps.

Why CFL Bulbs Burn Out Early

This electrical wiring question came from: Nicole, from Sacramento, California.

I can’t speak for your wiring methods, however there are several qualities of CFL Bulbs available, which will affect the life of the bulb as well. Be sure to select a dependable brand for best performance.

More about CFL Bulbs and Electrical Wiring

How to Install Ceiling Fans and Wiring

Step-by-step pictures – Easy wiring diagrams and installation guide – Light and fan switch variations.

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Lighting Electrical Codes

For more information about Ceiling Fan Wiring
Ceiling Fan Wiring
Ceiling Fan Wiring
How to Install Ceiling Fans and Wiring
Take the mystery out of ceiling fan wiring. Ceiling Fans are a great way to lower your energy bill and brighten up one of your favorite rooms.

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Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handy Women, and Electricians
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120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
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The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.

The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!

The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.

Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!

The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..

The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

5 Responses to “Why CFL Light Bulbs Flicker”
  1. Bob says:

    I have a ceiling fan that is remote controlled. It has 4 lights. I replaced them with CFL bulbs. They flicker every few minutes while turned on. I have read about the flicker problem when turned OFF….but these flicker for about 5 seconds every few minutes while ON. No flicker while OFF at all. There are 2 light switches to control this fixture and both have remote controls. Any ideas?


  2. rakesh Sharma says:

    Hello, I want to know about the wiring of silent diesel generator in which D.G. Panel is there with digital display that shows every fault in terms of code.

  3. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Rakesh Sharma

    It would be helpful to know the make and model of the diesel generator, however the monitoring system for the generator is typically pre-wired by at the factory unless you are referring to installing the monitoring display in a remote location, which is just a matter of installing low voltage cable from the generator to the location of the monitor display, and making the necessary connections.
    The diesel generator company will provide all the details about the required cable and the connections.


  4. Blayne says:

    I just had the same problem when I installed 2 new harbor breeze fans and put cfl bulbs in them. They flickered and it drove me nutz!!

    The only way to fix the issue without mixing bulbs it to remove the limiter. Our wonderful government now requires all ceiling fan manufactures to install limiters in new ceiling fans. It basically cuts of power when too much wattage is drawn through the fixture. Because some idiot decided to put 100 watt bulbs in there ceiling fan and burned his house down.

    It’s okay to remove the limiter if you’re using cfl’s because they only pull 13-14 watts each. If you have 4 that’s only 52-56 watts. Most limiters are capped at 190 watts. So the usage is well under the limiter rated capacity. If you aren’t using CFL’s and your fan flickers, it’s not caused by the limiter. It only affects cfl’s, Not incandescent bulbs or leds.

    So cut out the limiter and reconnect the wires. I’m not going into detail because if you don’t know how to, you should prob should hire and electrician. But whatever you do, DON’T remove the capacitor. That will burn the fan up. Do some research online to distinguish the 2. Good luck.

  5. Bennie Walton says:

    I work at a hotel and conference center, and we had a big problem with fluorescent lights flickering from one conference room to another. We started to correct the problem by rewiring all of the lamp socket holders for the T8 fluorescent tubes, and we replaced all of the T8 fluorescent tubes so they are the same.

    We got rid of the flickering lights except for one conference room that will be tackled soon.

    These fluorescent tubes were ballasted and controlled by dimmer modules, so it was important to redo all of the wiring to the ballasts and to the lamp holders.

    My initial thought behind the flickering was that it was a harmonics problem so I rented equipment that would help me see the harmonic content at the loads, and found that although there were harmonics, they really weren’t all that bad in energy content, so again, the fix proved to be the wiring. Make sure your wiring is solid. If you use wire nuts, make sure the wire nuts are tight on the wire connections. I have seen too many that were loose (improperly twisted).

    By the way, I am the electrician at this hotel and conference center. How we solved our problem with fluorescent lamps will most likely work in most cases.