Dirty Power

Perth, 25-26th July 2012

Yes, I am fine…it was just a hectic day yesterday, then travelling to Perth…by the time I got here I just wasn’t energetic enough to write my blog. Its’ cold (5 degrees on my arrival) but as nearly always here nice blue skies…

Today I had an interesting discussion that may show some further light on the issue of dimming instability (flickering) of LED, specifically retro-fit LED’s. Note that I am just thinking out loud and sharing my thoughts and that what I write is not necessarily the “truth and nothing but the truth”, but it seems to me that we should certainly spare some thought to the possibility that dirty power (electricity), some call it electrical pollution or electromagnetic noise, may be one of the factors that causes unexplainable variations and flickering in dimmable LED systems and with that I aim specifically at the LED retro-fit, which is one of my consuming issues at the moment. Electrical power is supposed to have one clean frequency wave, generally 50Hz, but most of the time there is a second or even a third wave (2nd and 3rd harmonics), of 100Hz  or 150Hz. This somehow superimposes itself on wires and electrical housings and travels through space just like your wireless phone signals.

Dirty electricity is not something you can see or sense, or actually you can, figuratively speaking, as it is known to cause unhealthy side effects to humans such as headaches, ringing in the ears, trouble focussing and other symptoms, and is kind of difficult to explain let alone understand its’ origin. My focus however is more on the potential sensitivity of the LED electronics to the “rogue” frequency waves that are produced through the dirty electricity, directly or indirectly.

Dirty electricity can be measured and the amount seems to be directly related to the amount of and relationship between frequency and voltage (the higher the more “dirt”). Electromagnetic frequency waves can be measured on a power wire but also away from the wire or a light source. So if not properly controlled and filtered electrical pollution can be quite substantial.

I was related a story of a project where the team was examining the cause of dimmed LED flickering, similar as to what I am experiencing. When they came to site to test everything seemed normal, until somebody pushed the elevator button nearby and the LED started to flicker…coincidence? I am not an electrical specialist, but it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that dirty power may well be one of the key factors causing problems to LED (dimming)!

Love to hear any feedback on this subject…

Light Watch 3-112: You can Google dirty electricity and find it explained on various websites. I also found a video on the subject.
PS: Dirty power is not dust on the wires! 🙂


26. July 2012 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: Light & Learn, light and health, light watch, lighting applications | 1 comment

One Comment

  1. First thanks for being here for us Martin. My issue on this thing is: Do not dim = better take different modules in lower and higher lighting levels and switch them 100% on and off :: thats i!


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