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.

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?

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