LED lights are an incredible modern lighting alternative. These lights utilize up to 90% less energy than other lighting solutions (fluorescent and incandescent) and provide superior brightness and longevity. However, several customers have recently reported experiencing issues due to LEDs. One of these issues is radio or television interference.
Initially, one may think it is due to the signal strength in the region, but as you get further, the static continues, which can now make you feel uncomfortable. According to several customers, after upgrading their vehicle’s LEDs, they experienced interference with the car’s AM / FM radio signal, which tainted the experience considerably. This occurs once the lights are turned on, but it is inconvenient, particularly to individuals who prefer AM radio.
It appears that this can also occur with primary supply voltage LED lighting, though there haven’t been claims on this. Fortunately, this article has compiled the ideal options for eliminating LED light interference. If you have experienced this issue, read along! You will understand precisely why this problem happens and how to resolve it, allowing you to enjoy the car’s radio undisturbed.
Radio Interference; Definition and Causes
Radio signals flow across the air from one station to another or your gadget. Occasionally, when listening to the radio in your car or probably watching a television program in your room, you may hear a humming or buzzing noise. For a short while, your television’s signal and picture may even go off. This is what we refer to as radio interference.
This interference occurs when two or more electrical devices operate within the same frequency spectrum. Radio signals are transmitted at a radio frequency of between 100 kHz (kilohertz) and 300GHz (gigahertz). Consider the following scenario:
- Both the radio and your other friend’s phone operate at the same radio frequency range.
- You or the other party may encounter a signal disruption. (In all likelihood, it will be you.)
- Typically, you will experience a buzzing noise, or the radio could be completely inaudible.
- The signal will be restored shortly upon resolution of the issue.
- This condition also occurs with LED lights. Additionally, LED lights might create radio interference.
Are LED Lights Radio Frequency Emitters?
Certain LED lights produce electric signals that are absorbed by televisions and radios. However, this is not applicable for all lights of this type, but mainly for lower-quality lights. In truth, there are numerous low-quality devices on the market today. Since these items disregard governmental standards and restrictions, consumers need to be cautious while purchasing such lighting equipment.
LED lights are gaining popularity, and for a good reason. They consume considerably less energy than incandescent bulbs; however, the problem of interference should not be overlooked. Remember that this applies to vehicle headlights and any LED light in the vicinity, even those inside the vehicle.
Why do LEDs generate radio frequency interference?
Typically, the culprits of the interference in the car are the LEDs. Other lights in the vicinity may also contribute to the interference. Recent models of automobiles feature numerous LEDs in various locations, including the front headlights, door lights, and overhead lights, as well as illuminated bars and spotlights.
The LEDs in your household can also disrupt your wireless signal, resulting in radio interference. The issue is not entirely due to LED lighting. The source of the interference is the unit that feeds the LED. Frequently, the term “LED Driver” refers to the power source for the LED (or sometimes, a Ballast).
LEDs operate via a sequence of controllable bursts of energy known as Pulse Width Modulation, or PWM, regulated through the duty cycle. A ballast or LED Driver delivers power to an LED in a series of bursts, the rate of which determines the number of times the LED flickers per second.
The Hertz ratio is translated to an electric signal throughout this flicker control process, then picked up by the radio in the car or any other radio device. Once this occurs, a sound will emanate from the radio speakers. Another common cause of this disruption is the use of electronics of low quality in the electrical supply, specifically the transformer.
Another source of disruption is the recessed lights. This issue arises when one uses the radio and recessed lighting together.
How to fix radio interference from LED lights
With a greater understanding of how LED lights operate, it should be easier to resolve interference concerns and avoid them completely.
The possible fixing tips to the issue are discussed below. Check this brief table;
Tips how to fix radio interference from LED lights
1. Identifying the culprit using an AM radio
The simplest method of determining the cause of the disturbance is to use an AM radio. It does not have to be brand new, but it must have fresh batteries, and the volume is adjustable.
Additionally, the setup is straightforward. All you have to do is select a station at the dial’s lower end. Ascertain that the radio produces no sound, not even static. If done correctly, your AM radio will act as a sensing device, receiving all frequencies from the surroundings.
Also, ensure that the level is set appropriately. Once the setup is complete, it’s time to introduce the AM radio up close to each car’s LED light, whether on the outside or interior. Keep an eye out for headlights, traffic signals, brake lights, and door lights, among others. Bear in mind that there may be multiple sources of interference.
2. Ferrite cores
Ferrite cores, commonly known as ferrite chokes, or EMI filters, are inexpensive components purchased online. Simply wrap a ferrite core around the light wires. The unfortunate thing is that you need one per LED light.
The interference will steadily reduce when each ferrite core is appropriately applied and eventually disappear. Ferrites restrict or reduce high-frequency electricity.
LED lights should do this automatically, but cheaper or rather low-quality LED lights require a ferrite core. Of course, incandescent wires don’t need ferrite cores as they cannot cause any interference. I would advise that you seek help installing these ferrite cores if you’re not knowledgeable about the process.
3. Replacing the LED lights
In some instances, it is preferable to update the LED lights. This is particularly the case for interior lighting, as using a ferrite core is challenging, if not impractical. I strongly advise you to invest in high-quality LED lighting. While they may be slightly more expensive, the less costly options will result in the very difficulties you’re attempting to avoid.
Typically, LED lights sold by reputable companies comply with EMI suppression regulations, which is precisely what you want. I recommend numerous reputable manufacturers available on Amazon, including Philips, Osram, Cougar Motor, and BEAMTECH. Avoid no-name brands unless you are positive that purchasing the item will not cause interference.
4. Replacing the transformer on an LED light
As explained previously, the issue may not be with the LED bulb itself but rather with the internal components that supply the bulb. Hence, one might replace the transformer in an LED bulb with a more EMI-resistant transformer. This way, you can avoid using a ferrite core entirely.
However, it is worth noting that this method is only applicable to reduced voltage LED lights. It is preferable to use the other options elaborated in this article when using LED lights with a voltage greater than 12V. Remember that some LED lighting systems contain inside transformers, necessitating a complete replacement.
Replace any external transformers in the lighting system. Transformers, like bulbs, must be of high quality to reduce interference. An adequately installed radio should function on any station.
5. Using shorter/insulated cables
Although this solution does not solve the problems created by LED lights, it has been determined that longer connections produce more interference. As a result, we recommend using shorter wires to reduce interference. If that’s not possible, insulated cables will do.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Can LEDs affect your television?
Yes, they certainly can. However, the remedy is quite simple. Once you’ve identified the source of the problem, in this case, the signal cables, you can equip them with ferrite core filters. These filters will cover your television cables, considerably reducing interference.
To summarize, whether you’re at home enjoying a ride in your car, LEDs can drastically degrade your listening experience. It can produce an unappealing buzzing/humming noise. However, the most prevalent cause is poor-quality components that can be replaced at any time.
Troubleshooting is the most challenging aspect. However, utilizing an Ammeter, you can easily handle this. Then you can fiddle with the configurations, track out the real culprit, and work toward a fix.