Why Do LED Lights Make a Clicking Sound?

If you found this article, congratulations! You have figured out that the weird clicking sounds you’ve been hearing every second day in your living room are most likely coming from a light fixture or bulb!

It’s hard to pinpoint an irregular noise around the house, but now that you’ve finally pinned it down, you can solve the problem.

LED bulbs make a clicking sound due to a number of reasons that could be housed in the light fixture, in the dimmer system, or in the very LED bulb itself.

Why Does LED Make Popping Noise When Turned On?

You’d be surprised your LED can even make a clicking or popping sound. But it might be doing that when you turn it on, or a few minutes after you switch it off, or during the entire time the bulb is on, or completely randomly.

Before you go about fixing it, it’s a good idea to make a little log if you can and note down exactly when you hear it, what it sounds like and where you think it is coming from.

Causes Of The Clicking Noise

You will need to put on your thinking hat and bust out your magnifying glass because Sherlock, you need to investigate!

The exact circumstance you hear a clicking sound in is a hint as to what could be going wrong with your lighting set up. And the second hint is the type of noise you hear.

Whether it is at regular intervals or irregular, or loud or barely audible, and if it sounds more ‘mechanical’ or ‘electrical.’

The problem usually seems to start when people change their existing bulbs and put in new bulbs or move into a new home.

Here I explore three distinct and common reasons why you may hear various types of sounds from your light.

Fixtureincandescent fixture

A lot of people with recessed can lighting experience a clicking sound when they are switched off and also briefly when they are turned on.

Surprisingly this has nothing to do with the bulb or wiring but is because of the recessed fixture itself.

More specifically, when the can lighting fixture is not made with a good thermally insulating material, then the body of the fixture heats up and cools down unevenly, and the metal’s expanding and contracting with the plastic make noises.

It is usually the trim that might be the culprit as it’s made from aesthetic material and not necessarily tested for heat dissipation.

The kind of sound it makes is irregularly spaced loud tinkling, much like the oven walls make when they are heating up.

The canned lights could also possibly be expanding and contracting against the drywall, the metal studs, or the legs that hold the fixture in place, so any number of mechanical things could be at play.

So keep an ear out for the kind of noise and when it occurs.

Dimmer Switch

If you hear the clicking sound as soon as you turn on a light fixture, it could be inadequate wattage of the dimmer switch at play.

You will definitely need to consider the wattage of your dimmer, and how many LEDs are on the circuit.

For example, if your dimmer wattage is 150 W, and you have fifteen 9 W bulbs, you will think you’re in the clear.

However, when LEDs turn on, there is ‘in-rush’ current, which is a large surge of current that goes through the circuit to power on the LEDs initially.

So not only do you need to consider whether the LED bulb and dimmer are compatible with each other correctly. Also, whether you have provided enough headspace for the start-up current surge.

Also, an old dimmer system hooked up to a new LED bulb may allow some ‘leaking’ of current to take place, as some dimmers do not switch off completely when turned off.

That is covered in more detail in the section below.

Also read: Is Dimmer Switch Buzzing Dangerous?

Bulb

Let’s suppose you can hear clicking after you have turned off your dimmer switch, and a few minutes later, you hear the noise. Why is that?

LED bulbs have circuits at the base of the bulb. Within this circuit is the voltage regulator, which drops the AC main current to DC current, for example, to 12 V that the LED needs.

Sometimes this circuitry can make a ticking noise because some voltage is still applied.

This is because, in cheap LED bulbs, the voltage may not be completely turned off even when the dimmer is dialed down to zero.

So physically, the dimmer is still on, providing ever little voltage but not enough, and this results in a clicking noise.

Essentially, the dimmer is charging up a little capacity in the switching power supply. When it builds up enough, it is discharged with a ‘click,’ audible to humans every few hours or minutes.

Conversely, you may hear sound when you turn on an LED.

This is an in-rush sound that is actually very hard to hear and is more like a hum or a high-pitched whistle, and can only be audibly heard if the driver inside the LED is cheaply made.

There is yet another reason that the bulb could be to blame. If the base of the LED bulb is made of ceramic or aluminum, it can cause random popping noises time and again.

Most of the latest LED bulbs can get very hot, and that noise is usually the base heating up.

In addition to the ceramic or aluminum, the bulb consists of materials such as metal, glass, and plastic.

Due to differing coefficients of thermal expansion, the parts heat up at different rates. They might touch and scrape past each other as they expand, making irregular mechanical sounding clicking noises.

How To Get Rid Of Clicking Noise?

There is a way to check a dimmer and LED combination that does not physically turn off.

If you unplug your lamp or fixture completely from the wall, you will see that the clicking will stop. This confirms it is a residual voltage in the cheap LED driver.

The obvious solutions, in this case, would be either to change the bulb or disconnect the circuit completely every time you want to switch off the light, to avoid the clicking noise.

Considering you’ve figured out that it is your fixture, and specifically the recessed can lighting making noises, the issue is quickly resolved by replacing the trim or can.

Make sure that your fixture fittings and wires are tightly secured, without much room for loosening up.

To fix the high-pitched click or hum, the only solution is to exchange the bulb, and hopefully, you can get one that is good quality.

Don’t forget one of the most straightforward solutions to any electrical problem. Did you try and restart it? Or, in this case, did you try and unscrew then re-screw the bulb?

That seems to tighten the connections and do away with noises for a lot of people!

Final Words

There are a few possible reasons why your LED might be making a popping sound.

The key thing to remember is to always buy quality products that are backed by universal safety ratings.

Did you come across any clicking sound from your LED bulb or fixture?

At what moment do you hear it, and can you make out if it’s a mechanical or an electrical sound?

18 thoughts on “Why Do LED Lights Make a Clicking Sound?”

  1. Just installed about 20 led recessed lights in basement. Mixture of new cans and Some old cans that were previously in another room. All new bulbs. The kind that have the bulb screw in adapter tHat attaches to the led. When I turn them on there are clicking noises all over the place kind of randomly. They only doit when turning on. I have installed a loT of these over the years and this is the first time i experienced this. They are different bulbs so that has to be it.

    Reply
    • Hey Jim,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. Sometimes this click is just what happens in the bulb regardless of what you do. There is so many things that can cuase it, starting from the massive surge of voltage, through basement of the bulb heating up and making that popping noise.

      Let us know here if you figure out the cause. I am sure it will help plenty of readers 🙂

      Eugen

      Reply
  2. Great site. Hi! New build. I have LED disc lights. I hear clicking or popping noise about 5-30mins after I turn off the lights. I left the lights on all day. They are Leviton dimmers. The noise doesn’t bother me. They aren’t random. Only when I turn off the set of lights after use for a few hours. All I would like to know if it’s safe to continue to live w the click/popping noise.

    I’m assuming perhaps the noise is from cheap LED disc recessed lighting from my builder? Should I change the LED lights or can I be perfectly fine w the ones I have? Thank you in advance. I’m scared of an electrical fire.

    Reply
    • Hi Tam,

      The click is likely to be safe, unless you can smell anything or the fixture is extremely overheating. It is likely to be the base of the recessed can that get hots and clicks from time to time but it is really hard to judge without looking into it directly.

      Eugen

      Reply
      • Hello, j recently had my porch light split and it’s in the xmsame circuit as my liv in v room. I’ve been assured that all the connections are good but my living room recessed led’s blink now energy 40-55 seconds or so. I upgraded insulation as well near the fixtures. I have switched out the dimmer but stilL same issue.

        Reply
        • Sorry it’s all jumbled up. In short my porch light was one now I have two. Still not connected even just ready for sconces. Since that has been connected about two days later my lights started to blink inside.
          There was an exposed arch that housed the original porch light Romex that was covered with only siding
          We have closed the arch and packed the porch light wires behind stucco. I still have access over my door from inside though.
          Long story short my led recessed lights which are 4 of them at 10w a lice have had really terrible flicker every 45 seconds or so. There are times where it goes away even for. A full day but it seems to come back

          Reply
          • Hi Nicholas,

            So it seems to me that the circuit is the culprit. Is it possible that porch lights are connected to the same circuit with more appliances that draw a lot of power? You are saying that sometimes you can go for a day without flickering, but then it starts again. So, what I am thinking is.. Is it possible that there are some appliances or maybe even other light bulbs that are working constantly and draw a lot of power, which makes your LEDs to flicker? Try to investigate and see if you can simulate the situation where it works fine, by turning other appliances off.

            Eugen

  3. I recently installed 4 LED smart lights in my room. I had to get a GU10 to E26 adapter to be able to install them, and I’m not sure if the dimmer switch was there when we bought the house or if it we installed it when my brother moved into this room a few years ago. there’s a clicking or a hum coming from the bulbs and the dimmer, but the loudness and intensity of the hum from the bulbs varies depending on what color and brightness setting I have it on. Is this dangerous to me or the electrical outlet, or is it safe to leave?

    Reply
    • Also, if it is something that needs to be fixed or replaced because it’s damaging over time or something, what is the best way to go about fixing it or the cheapest way to replace the things needed?

      Reply
      • Hi Stephen,

        In most cases, clicking is not dangerous but rather an annoying nuisance. You would need to see first what causes it, say you try another bulb with the same switch does it resolve the problem or not? Also, you can open the box and see what exactly does that sound within the switch.

        Eugen

        Reply
  4. Eugene, we will see if this is still active. Thanks for sharing the above information!

    I replaced old flourescent tubes with direct-wire, dimmable LED tubes (Toggled brand). I took out the balast and wired the line and neutral to opposite contacts on the same end (per Toggled’s instructions). They work fine at my house, however, at my neighbors she occasionally turns on the light switch and hears a loud pop. I heard this after the tubes were on for an hour or so. She hears this at times only when flipping the switch.

    The bulbs stay on. There is no smell nor smoke. I am not sure if it is one bulb or both, and I haven’t tried to replace them to determine if it was the particular bulb… Any thoughts?

    Reply
    • Hi Mike,

      It is hard to give advice without seeing a setup. I know usually fluorescent tubes can pop when the switch is flipped. These tubes were installed in the kitchen by the previous owner. Not sure if it is a ballast or the light. Even though you bypass the ballast it can still click as if trying to turn on probably? Do you have a chance to take it out completely?

      Eugen

      Reply
  5. Strange crackling sound and flickering on off with Walmart brand Chinese LED lights. Changed to Sylvania and problem resolved so far,

    Reply
  6. I have a ceiling fan with an LED light fixture. I hear a clicking sound randomly when the light is turned off. I wonder if this might be because of a shared neutral?

    Reply
    • I am wondering if the light in the ceiling fan is enclosed that can cause the temperature to go up and cause that clicking sound? Couldn’t think the reason why would neutral cause it.

      Eugen

      Reply
  7. We switched our older regular ceiling fixture for a new LED fixture with the LED lights built in.
    We also put in a dimmer switch.
    We now have clicking when it light is on. It starts after a couple minutes and clicks at random times while the light is on. If we we have it on dim it seems to get power surges once in awhile.
    Can you give me an idea on where to start on this.
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Gary,

      Unfortunately there are plenty of LED bulbs that click and it is really hard to pinpoint the issue. If you did not have it with regular bulb, then I would say the click is caused by the heat generated at the base of the bulb. Also I would try a different brand of LEDs to see it you see the same issue and if it is not just a faulty bulb.

      Eugen

      Reply

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