Why Are My Lights Flickering When My AC Turns On?

image of kitchen and lights depicting flickering lights when ac turns on

Your lights flickering or dimming when you switch your air conditioner on isn’t a phenomenon that only occurs in your home. This common issue is caused by several reasons. This article discusses some of these reasons, which include air conditioner wiring problems, electrical issues, and an outdated unit. It also includes a few tips on the best ways to handle and resolve the issue, including when to call for professional assistance. Read on to learn more about the lights flickering when AC turns on.

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Is It Normal for Lights to Flicker When the AC Turns On?

As mentioned above, it is relatively common for lights to flicker when the air conditioner turns on. This happens because air conditioners need a considerable amount of electricity when they start up. The sudden surge in power usage can cause the voltage to drop momentarily, resulting in flickering lights. 

Turning on the air conditioner compressor needs a large amount of power to start and cool the air. The sudden electricity draw can result in the voltage dropping temporarily and affect the other equipment connected to the same circuit, such as the lights. The voltage should go back to normal as the air conditioner stabilizes, so the lights should stop flickering.

If there is severe or persistent flickering, there could be a more serious problem, like faulty wiring or an overloaded circuit. Talk to a qualified electrician if you find yourself in such a situation. They can assess the problem and conduct the necessary repairs or upgrades to the electrical system.

These may be anticipated unless you own a geothermal unit:

  • The lights flicker or dim briefly.
  • The lights dim from 3 to 5%, or even more. 

Traditional outdoor air conditioner units consume a larger electrical load than geothermal models. Geothermal air conditioners get their energy from deep in the earth, and the air conditioner control unit is usually installed next to the furnace. An expert is needed if the geothermal unit is putting a significant burden on your electrical system.

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Indication of A Bigger Air Conditioner Problem

image of hvac contractor repairing air conditioner electrical issues

If the air conditioner turns on and the lights flicker, the electrical system may have a bigger problem. Several of the likely reasons for severe or persistent flickering are:

  1. Overloaded circuit: The lights may flicker when the air conditioner turns on if the circuit that the lights and air conditioner are on is overloaded. This can be a safety hazard and cause damage to the electrical system as time passes.
  2. Faulty wiring: Malfunctioning wiring can result in voltage drop and other electrical issues. Persistent flickering may point to faulty wiring that should be repaired or replaced.
  3. Low voltage: If your home has a low voltage supply, the lights may flicker when the air conditioner turns on. Problems with the power grid or transformer providing power to your home may cause these problems.
  4. The AC capacitor may be damaged or weakened: If the air conditioner capacitor is weak or broken, it can result in the electrical power plummeting. This can cause a significant reduction in light output. The lights typically dim around 30-50%. If you notice this issue, consult professional assistance, as they can evaluate the air conditioner capacitor.

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How to Stop Lights from Flickering When You Turn On Your Air Conditioner

Some of the measures you can take to stop lights from flickering when you switch on your air conditioner are:

  • Check the electrical system: Have a qualified electrician check your home’s electrical system. They will inspect if there are problems, such as faulty wirings and overloaded circuits that may be causing the voltage to drop and the lights to flicker.
  • Upgrade the electrical system: If you have an outdated or lacking electrical system, you may require an upgrade so that it can handle the load of your air conditioner and other home appliances. This may include changing the electrical panel, installing more circuits, and upgrading the wiring.
  • Use a hard start kit: Installing a hard start kit can help lessen the burden on the compressor of your air conditioner when it starts. This can reduce the voltage drop so the lights won’t flicker. This is quite a simple and cheap solution that a professional can install.
  • Use a dedicated circuit: Consider installing a dedicated circuit for your air conditioner if your lights and air conditioner are on the same circuit. This will ensure the air conditioner receives the necessary power without impacting other appliances linked to the same circuit.
  • Install voltage stabilizers: A voltage stabilizer can help your home’s voltage regulation so fluctuations causing flickering lights are prevented. This is a costlier solution but can give you long-term benefits and protect your electrical system from damage. 

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Don’t Conduct DIY Air Conditioner Electrical Repairs

homeowner getting electric shock due to diy air conditioner repair

It is crucial that you don’t perform do-it-yourself repairs on any electrical issues linked to your air conditioner or lights for safety reasons. Electricity can be hazardous, resulting in severe injury or even death if mishandled. Air conditioners and lighting systems run at high voltages, posing a significant risk to untrained individuals. 

Aside from the risk of physical harm, trying to fix electrical problems without the proper training and knowledge can cause more damage to the system and potentially expensive repairs. Electrical systems are complicated, and even seemingly simple problems can have underlying causes that need a trained professional to diagnose and repair.

Hiring a qualified and licensed electrician to resolve any electrical problems is always recommended. They have the required training, tools, and knowledge to conduct the work safely and effectively. This way, you can be sure that your home or business stays safe and functional.

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Pay attention to flickering lights when you turn on the air conditioner. This is essential to ensure you are safe and comfortable in your home. Lights flickering can point to electrical issues that require immediate attention from qualified professionals. Ignoring these signs may cause more significant electrical issues. It is essential to be vigilant in determining and addressing these issues as soon as possible. Doing so guarantees a safe and comfortable home. You’ll also be assured knowing you have an electrical system operating correctly.

Related Article: Top Reasons Your Air Conditioner Is Not Removing Humidity

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