Your newly purchased LED light glows, but it attracts attention with a buzzing, humming, whistling or beeping? Such noises are quite annoying and can get on your nerves. In this guide you will find the reasons for the annoying “sound” and how you can fix it.

LED light buzzing or humming?

Some LED lamps do not only produce light during operation but also generate noises. The noise can be different and is often described as follows by different people:

  • Buzzing
  • Humming
  • Whistling
  • Whirring
  • Beeping

Such noises with the recently purchased LED lamp often causes astonishment and annoyance. Especially high-frequency buzzing is often perceived as a tinnitus, especially by younger people. Humming sounds normally occur at a frequency of 120 Hz, i.e. twice the mains frequency. However, even a low hum can be very annoying, for example in the living room lighting or above the dining table.

Is the humming lamp defective?

In most cases, the noises such as buzzing or humming do not indicate a defect. The effect can have different causes and is evoked by certain conditions. This is also the reason why the same LED lamp does not necessarily make a sound to every buyer.

Which lamps are affected?

In my experience, the noise can occur with all LED lamps. It doesn’t matter whether they are cheap no-name lamps or branded ones. Nevertheless, the no-name products tend to have such side effects more often, which is certainly due to the cost savings during production.

Can damage occur?

Even if the humming and whistling noises seem strange at first, in most cases they have no influence on the operation of the lamps. This also means that a shorter lifespan must not be expected.

Causes and corrective actions

The main cause of noise can usually be found in the LED driver of the lamp. With LED lamps, driver electronics are integrated; for example with LED ceiling lights, the driver is usually located in the base. This electronics consists of several components. These include:

  • Switching power supply
  • Coils/chokes
  • LED driver

The switching power supply generates the operating voltage for the LED’s from the 110V mains voltage. This part of the electronics contains, among other things, a small transformer for transforming the voltage. Furthermore there are some coils or chokes for the intermediate storage of energy as well as for the avoidance of EMC disturbances. The LED driver usually contains capacitors for smoothing the voltage.

Humming or buzzing

When humming or buzzing is heard, this usually occurs with a frequency of 120 Hertz. This corresponds to twice the mains frequency. This results in current peaks of 120 times per second. This can cause the components to vibrate or oscillate.

Whistling or beeping

High-frequency noises can be generated by the switching power supply. Such power supplies work with a switching frequency in the kilohertz range, whereby the components can also be excited to vibrate. Sometimes the switching frequency still lies in the audible frequency spectrum.

The manufacturers try to prevent the components from vibrating by impregnating them with resin, for example. Depending on the design of the electronics and the choice of components used, the vibrations generated may also be audible outside the lamp. The occurrence and the intensity depend on certain conditions. In the following the most frequent problem cases and causes of the noises are described.

Illuminate makes noises

If the LED illuminate emits annoying noises, the only solution is to replace it with a lamp of the same type but of a different type or manufacturer. The switch to a completely identical model of the same type and manufacturer will only help in rare cases.

Lamp on dimmer hums

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

  • Using a dimmable LED lamp
  • Dimmer is specified for LED operation

If you use both a dimmable LED lamp and a matching LED dimmer, some dimmer/lamp combinations may still produce a humming sound. The noise will occur either only when dimmed or partially at full brightness. First of all you should find out if the dimmer or the lamp causes the hum.

LED illuminant hums

You can simply screw/plug an LED illuminant into another lamp without a dimmer for testing purposes. If the bulb makes noise here, you should replace it with another model.

LED luminaire hums

With permanently installed luminaires, testing without a dimmer is not so easy. For example, the luminaire can be connected to another line without a dimmer. Attention: Working on the electrical installation must only be carried out by qualified personnel. If the LED luminaire emits noises even without a dimmer, the only solution is to replace it with another model.

Dimmer causes humming

If there is no more humming from the illuminate or the luminaire during operation without a dimmer, the cause can be found at first glance in the used dimmer model. From a technical point of view, however, dimming LED lamps is quite complex.

Replacing the dimmer with another model can help here. However, it may be the case as well that a different type of LED no longer makes any noise with your dimmer. The only thing that helps here is to try out different lamp/dimmer combinations.

LED ceiling light buzzing

Some LED ceiling lights with integrated LED’s emit a buzzing sound during operation. This is caused by the LED driver as described above. This is installed in the base of most ceiling luminaires. Even if the driver circuit itself barely hums audibly, the base of the luminaire serves as a resonance body in some constructions. This amplifies the buzzing and is audible throughout the room.

Check mounting

You should first check that the ceiling lamp is correctly mounted and that all screws are tightened. Otherwise, the base could resonate well, especially with metal constructions, and serves as a resonating body. If no improvement can be achieved, only an exchange of the light will help.

Exchange buzzing lamps?

If the LED lamp hums or beeps too loudly, only an exchange will help. In my experience, the sounds of several lamps of the same type are sometimes different in intensity. However, it is hardly to be expected that when exchanging for the same LED type no more noises will be heard.

Exchange for another model

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

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

Online purchase as an alternative

The best way to return a humming or buzzing LED lamp without any problems is through buying online. Due to the right of withdrawal, annoying luminaires and illuminants can be returned to all reputable online shops without any problems.

Conclusion – humming and buzzing is annoying

The humming or chirping of LED lamps is not an isolated case. It is not a problem for the operation of LED lights, but can be very annoying in quiet surroundings. In order to have peace, in most cases only the exchange of illuminant or luminaire against a silent model will help.