How infuriating is it when your dimmer switches start buzzing? Electricity should be neither seen nor heard, so that irritating buzz is a strong indicator that something isn’t right. But while the noise is annoying, chances are it’s not a very serious problem.

In most situations, there’s no cause for alarm, it may just be a case of an overload of wattage on a supply, or that the dimmer switch is nearing its end of life.

How do dimmer switches work?

The modern dimmer switch has been around for nearly sixty years. Invented in 1961 by American Joel Spira, the qualified physicist realised it had the potential to save on both light bulbs and energy.

Dimmer switches work by altering the AC current between the switch and the light. Surprisingly a dimmer switch does not lower the power flow, it creates the current to enable it to flicker meaning the power goes on and off multiple times per second. To the naked eye, it just looks as though there is less light.

Turning on or off the ambience

The beauty of dimmers is they allow you to achieve exactly the amount of light you desire, so you can alter the light depending on your mood or, of course, any visitors you’re trying to impress.

If the children have been running you ragged, dim the lights in their bedroom in the evening to help them settle into sleep. If you’re after a relaxing soak, turn the lights down low in the bathroom to ease you into your tub.

Overcapacity and overloaded

A buzzing noise coming from a dimmer switch, could be a sign that you’ve overloaded the switch’s capacity and maximum wattage. If the bulbs in your light fixture have a high wattage and you hear that humming noise, then the switch is over capacity. Common wattage ratings for dimmers are 150 watts for a single blub, 300, 600 and 1000 watts for a high level of lighting.

It’s easy to check if that could be the cause of your problem, change the bulbs to a lower wattage or remove several bulbs and see if the buzzing disappears.

Wear and tear

Another common reason why it might be making that infuriating buzzing noise is because it’s getting old and needs changing. You pay for what you get, so avoid buying cheap ones.

You should expect a good dimmer to last anything between five and ten years but be warned the higher the load you put through the switch, the quicker it will burn out.

Dimmer switches are perfect if you want to do your bit for the environment and make savings in your wallet. If you’ve followed this advice, but are still having problems with your dimmer switches, give the team at PWA Electrical Services a call. Our electricians provide quality workmanship to both domestic and commercial customers throughout Perth and are available 24/7 for emergencies. So, whether you need a tricky high-ceiling lightbulb replaced, to a complete rewire of your home, get in touch with us for affordable and efficient service.