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How to Fix Radio Interference from LED Lights

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Are you wondering how to fix radio interference from LED lights? LED lights are widely used nowadays in houses, convenience stores, buildings, and even in cars. The main reason behind this is the efficiency of LED lights when it comes to performing their job and their minimal use of energy. 

However, problems are also inevitable with these amazing lights. One of which is radio interference. First things first, let us have a deeper understanding of radio interference and why LED lights can cause it. 

What Is Radio Interference?

Radio signals travel through the air from one station to the next or to your device. Sometimes, if you are listening to a radio in your car, or you are watching a TV show at home, you may experience a buzzing or humming sound. Your TV screen might even lose its signal and picture for a moment. 

That is what you call radio interference. This disturbance happens when there is two or more electronic equipment that uses the same frequency range. Radio signals use a radio frequency transmission between 100kHz (kilohertz) to 300GHz (gigahertz). Let’s picture it this way:

  • You are listening to an AM radio, while someone is talking to a friend over the phone.
  • Your radio and the other person’s phone use the same range of radio frequency.
  • Either of you may experience a signal interruption. (Most likely, it will be you)
  • Most often than not, you will hear a buzzing sound or it will just be inaudible.
  • The signal will return immediately once the problem is gone. 

That scenario above happens with LED lights as well. LED lights can also cause radio interference.

You may ask why and how. Before we finally get to the solution, let us identify what causes the problem at once.

LED Panel of small orange lights

Why Do LED Lights Cause Radio Interference?

LED lights are known for their energy-saving ability, the reason why they are booming. It may not usually be suspected to be the cause of any trouble.

However, LEDs are not all angels and they may sometimes cause radio interference. Let’s know how and why.

LED lights are reported to be emitting noise between 30MHz to 300MHz (megahertz). Though this noise is not detectable, which means you cannot hear anything even if you are so close to it, it can affect other systems around it.

LEDs can affect even wireless signals. Yes, your wi-fi included.

However, LED lights are not the only cause of radio interference. It can be a combination of other equipment around you.

Another fact, it’s not just the LED light itself that causes the interruption, but the device that powers it. Interference can also be caused by a low-quality transformer or recessed lighting.

What Powers LED Lights?

The LED lights power supply is called LED Driver or ballast. The power of an LED light is given by the LED driver or ballast in the form of a vibration or thudding. The series of controlled power bursts called Pulse Width Modulation or PWM, make the LEDs work, and in some way could power solar panels.

These bursts of power from the LED driver tell the number of LED flashes per second. The Hertz (Hz) ratio released during the flicker control is then converted into an electrical signal. These signals will be received by other electronic devices near the LED lights.

During these transmissions, you may hear a sound from your radio speaker or may see other devices flickering.

How to Fix Radio Interference From LED Lights

Now that we have identified the causes, let us talk about the possible solutions that we can have. Since radio interference from LED lights can be caused by different factors, we are also offering several kinds of solutions.

Three LED lights on display

Use Quality LED Lights

There are standards when it comes to LED lights. It is for your safety and to ensure that you can achieve what LEDs are promising.

You have to make sure that the ones you buy are compliant with these standards. Usually, cheap and unbranded LED lights do not pass some of the needed qualifications.

Quality LED lights, though they cost more, will function really well. They also have longer lives and durability compared to low-quality lights. Poor quality LED lights are the most common reason for radio interference.

Change the Transformer

Similar to the LED lights, transformers should be at their optimum quality as well. Low-quality transformers can cause the occurrence of radio frequency interference. If the transformer is not performing its function well, you may have to change it and look for something with better Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) suppression.

An EMI suppression filter, also called ferrite chokes or beads, at the input and output of the transformer will reduce the electromagnetic noise produced and transmitted within the connection. Through this suppression, the radio interference caused by the transformer will even be undetectable and the signal improved. Hence, the radio interference overall is fixed.

Use Short and Shielded Cable

Another possible reason for radio interference is the cable used in the LED lights. The longer the cables are, the longer the path that the signal has to travel, and the more interference it will encounter and give off along the way. The solution is to shorten the length of the cable. 

A shortened cable may reduce any unwanted signals from interrupting the radio frequency. Another possible solution is to use a cable that is shielded. Note how an LED is being measured.

A ceiling full of LED Bulbs

A covered cable is usually composed of braided copper strands or other metals, such as aluminum. This covered cable acts as an enclosure to minimize the hissing or broadcasting noise that causes radio frequency interference.

Quick Tip

Avoid using the radio and recessed lighting or an LED light at the same time. This combination can cause radio interference.

Conclusion

LED lights can cause radio interference through their power supply called LED driver/ballast, a low-quality transformer, or recessed lighting. However, this signal disturbance can be fixed and shouldn’t be a reason why you shouldn’t switch to LED Lights.

Knowing the cause of the disturbance will help you solve the problem in a proper way. You can either change the bulb, which is the easiest, the transformer, shorten the cable, or use an EMI filter. Make sure they are of quality!