LED Flicker and How to Measure It

While LED lighting offers numerous benefits, it’s not—unfortunately—flawless.

Certain lights have flicker, causing the light to exhibit a subtle pulsating or strobing issue. LEDs aren’t an exception. Typically, it is barely noticeable by the human eye. But just because it’s not noticeable by humans, doesn’t mean it’s not causing problems for humans. Health-related issues such as migraines, fatigue, reduced visual task performance, distraction, visual impairment and even epilepsy attacks are being said to have been triggered by flicker. Because of this, an increasing amount of organizations are paying more attention to the issue.

What causes flicker, anyway? The source of the problem originates from a conflict in the power current, particularly between the outlet and the power supply of the light. Dimmers can also increase flicker. Though fluorescents are infamous for high flicker (at least before recent advances), LEDs are exhibiting the same symptoms. LEDs can further complicate the issue with changing power needs. This problem can be mitigated by an LED driver that is placed between the power supply of the light and the light itself. The driver will regulate a constant voltage to the LED to decrease flicker.

Still, if flicker is not detectable by the human eye, how do we know the LED driver is working? Companies are now releasing products that can measure flicker, such as the MK350D meter from UPRTek. The meter can accurately measure flicker percentage from 1 to 100%, with 0% being pure uninterrupted continuum of light (no flicker.) It’s difficult to eliminate flicker entirely, but a meter can help lessen the flicker and subsequently, the health-related issues.

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