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Community and Q&A

Buzzing Sound from LED Strip Lights

tvrgeek | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

So, try to be efficient.  Put 8 4-foot LED strip lights up in my shop and got 4 cheap Horrible Fright hanging shop lights.   Lots of light. Very efficient, but they BUZZ.   The HF lights also wipe out my FM radio with RF pollution. The rest are just annoying.

Who makes decent strip lights and hanging lights that don’t coast an arm and a leg and don’t buzz?   I am almost thinking I should just run a bunch of old school A base fixtures and screw in bulbs but it would take quite a few.

I am an old guy and need lots of light.

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  1. Expert Member
    Akos | | #1

    Stick to brand names. Can't go wrong with Phillips Sylvania, Liteline. Simplest is to go for T8 or T4 bases.

    I've had pretty mixed luck with any of the tube lights from local box stores. Some work well, some have similar issues you mention.

  2. JimmyCoro | | #2

    I have a garage, shop, and two basement mechanical rooms full of Metalux LED strips. Couldn't be happier.

  3. Expert Member
    Zephyr7 | | #3

    I have had good luck with the Feit Electric lights that Costco had, but the older ones -- not the new ones with the motion sensor (I don't have any of the new ones). I have around 25-30 of the older ones, some of which are over 4 years old, with no problems.

    Aside from the ones I have from Costco, I would second Akos' recommendation to stick with traditional brand names. I have used MANY MANY MANY Lithonia light fixtures in my commercial projects at work, with zero problems. I have used Visioneering lights too, although I'm not sure they make anything like what you're looking for.

    BTW, If HF won't take back those lights that wipe out your radio, tell them you'd like to take them back BECAUSE they are causing all this RF interference. If they give you trouble, tell them you're thinking of reporting it to the FCC. Chances are the FCC won't actually do anything -- they are terribly understaffed -- but that might get HF to refund you for the problematic light fixtures.


  4. tvrgeek | | #4

    Thanks. I see Home Despot carries ( gets) the Metalux ( Cooper) for not a terrible price. They have the 8 footers as well. I'll look for Lithonia as well.

    FCC is useless. Back in MD had a power transformer that wiped out radio for two blocks. Neither the FCC, nor the power company cared. Of course, it eventually blew up. Now when IBM complained our unit was a couple dB over spec, they came down on us like a train.

    Just going to put the noisy junk in the crawl space, garage and places it does not matter. The buzz destroys the zen when you are on the workbench cutting a few dovetails or bringing some stock to shape with a plane. I like to have "The Classical Station" on in the background.

  5. tvrgeek | | #5

    Well, went and bought a Cooper from HD. $45. Better than the $12 from HF? NO, even worse. Taking it back.

    1. woodguyatl | | #7

      Are these lights on a dimmer by any chance? I suspect not since it is a workshop but LED's are sensitive to faulty/incompatible dimmers.

  6. Expert Member
    Zephyr7 | | #6

    Maybe see if you can get some of the Feit Electric fixtures. Mine are completely silent.


  7. Mickey Souza | | #8

    Is it controlled with a switch? Older light switches (including dimmers) are not compatible with the lower amperages of LED lights. Aside from looking at brands, look at the light switch.

    1. Expert Member
      Zephyr7 | | #9

      Old SWITCHES are fine regardless of load. Old switches were just mechanical contacts.

      Dimmers have issues because they work by chopping up the sinewave, so you need one that can keep that consistent even with the nonlinear load presented by LED light fixtures. It's not really the amperage that is the issue, it's the way they draw power over the sinewave, similar to, but not exactly the same as, power factor.


  8. tvrgeek | | #10

    Switch. No dimmers.
    Neither the HF nor the Cooper buzz audibly; they wipe out the radio. My overheads are what buzz so audibly, but they don't seem to effect the radio.

    1. Expert Member
      Peter Engle | | #11

      So use internet radio. FM is a dinosaur anyhow...

    2. DCContrarian | | #18

      I would try running the lights on a different circuit just as a check. LED lights are usually pretty trouble free, if you're getting buzzing with lights from two different manufacturers I would rule out an issue with the circuit before trying a third brand.

  9. tvrgeek | | #12

    No. Not only no, heck now. I don't do streaming crap. I like my FM "The Classical Station" and NPR.

    I make phone calls on my phone. I watch TV on my TV and compute on my computer.

    And, the RF interference is in direct violation of the FCC rules. Why should I be inconvenienced because a company does not respect the law?

    1. Expert Member
      Zephyr7 | | #13

      See if you can localize the RFI source on the fixture. If it's from the fixture itself, it can be difficult to do anything. If the RFI is radiated by the power cord, you MIGHT be able to reduce the interference by wrapping the power cord around a ferrite toroid or clamp-on core. An example would be one of these:

      You would probably want the type 31 material for your application, and you need a big enough core to be able to loop the power cord through a few times. you want the core up close to the fixture too.

      Yes, you're not supposed to have to deal with things like this, but RFI has become a big problem. The FCC doesn't usually do much, if anything, and most people don't notice so it becomes a "not a problem problem" for a lot of companies. Things have gotten so bad that some cheap computer power supplies are missing the RFI suppression components on the internal PC boards -- you can open them up, see the spots on the board for the suppression parts, and see jumpers installed instead.


    2. Expert Member
      Peter Engle | | #15

      I'm in a mountain shadow, so I have to listen to NPR and the classical station on the internet. Works like a charm. And go figure, but there's LOTS of stations on the internet to listen to. You should try it some time. Them newfangled things aren't all bad, y'know.

      1. tvrgeek | | #16

        I tried some of the streaming stuff on my house media server. Unreliable, pain in the butt.
        With a radio, you turn it on. No computer, no 50 clicks, no passwords.
        I loaded my 500 or so CD's on the server. Thought I would just have shortcuts to various stations. Does not work that easy.

        Computers are a tool. If they don't do what you want, they are not a good tool. BTW, I am a retired computer scientist. I know how they COULD work. Bad interfaces.

  10. tvrgeek | | #14

    Tried the ferrite clamp on.

  11. Expert Member
    Akos | | #17

    There are two different issues here.

    Buzzing is typically from low quality magnetics in the the supply section. Very annoying to fix, I've dealt with issue with early generation LED bulbs used as a reading light. Worst part is the cost difference between the right part and the one they used was pennies but it took a couple of hours to disassemble, replace and re-assemble everything.

    Some level of radio interference is generated by any switching power supply. Almost all LEDs have switching supplies. Even the ones that are certified will have non-zero EMI. Typically managing EMI costs you either extra in filtering components or losses in efficiency, most designs only aim to be marginally bellow the FCC limits. Now you take a dozen or two of these switching supplies put them in a metal building, chances are it will effect radio reception. There is really no way around this. About the only thing you can do is go for LEDs with external drivers that you can mount in a metal enclosure and all wiring inside metal conduit. Not cheap or simple.

    The reason your overhead lights don't effect the radio is they have magnetic ballasts. These don't have any switching components so they don't generate any EMI.

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