Question about Leviton Decora Light Dimmer Switch

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New Leviton 'lighted, decorative' switch flickers when off

In the process of replacing light switches throughout my house, I ended up with a flickering problem with 2 of them.  they are single pole, decorative, lighted switches made by Leviton.  also noted, in both cases I have a 'low energy' light bulbs (the ones which look like a mini-florescent).  Does anyone know why these switches now flicker when turned off, or is the switch simply bad.
Thanks, Vince

Posted by vinceinaz on

  • Samuel Charles Spriggs May 11, 2010

    I would check the connections to make sure all are tight -- it sounds like you may have some arcing caused by loose connections. (Wire nuts, plug in wires on switches, screw terminals...)

  • Ken Phillips
    Ken Phillips Apr 20, 2019

    I have had a similar issue with the neon light in the lighted switch flickering. Just to be certain, we are discussing the tiny light in the switch handle flickering and not the bulb the switch controls (be it incandesent, fluorescent, CFL, or LED). One was an exiting 15 year lighted switch and the other was a new Leviton lighted switch. In the old case I replaced an incandescent lamp with an LED and the neon light in switch handle no longer illuminated regardless of the switch being either ON or OFF.

    In the case of the new Leviton switch I installed it in a location where there was already a LED lamp. That switch's little light flickers with the appearance of a little campfire.

    These switches do not flicker and illuminate properly when there is at least on incandescent lamp being controlled. I am building a lab bench experiment to verify what I think is happening and try to develop an aftermarket work-around for me. Since any modification or adaption I develop would not have UL approval or meet NEC (code) I cannot recommend them.

    The little neon lamp is normally lit only when the switch is in the off position. It needs greater than 65 vac and an ma. or 2 to light. It is connected across the switch contacts. Its voltage is available between to hot (usually black) supply wire to the switch and the circuits neutral through the filament of the controled lamp(s). A resister in series with the neon lamp limits the current to only a couple of milliamps; enough to fire the neon lamp, but not illuminate the controlled light bulb. The incadescent light bulb has a very low resistance so the affect is that the neon lamp and its current limiting resistor are connected between hot and neutral. When the switch is closed its contacts effectively remove the neon lamp from the circuit by connecting both side of the neon lamp - series resistor together.

    When the lamp being controlled by the switch is a CFL or LED it is no longer a low resistance to allow the neon lamp's current. As mentioned the by someone else with a CFL or LED the lamp's circuitry may appear as a capacitor or an active component and not have a low enough fixed resistance to allow the neon lamp to fire and glow properly. There is nothing wrong with either the lighted switch or is wiring.



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Personally, I've had no practical problem using the standard lighted switches with CFL bulbs but I am willing to put up with the flicker as the switches are in an unimportant area. The reason why they flicker is each CFL bulb has an electronic circuit in the ceramic base so you don't have to install a balast circuit in every lamp and fixture in your home. This is also why they cost more. You are basically throwing away a complete flouresent light fixture when you change these bulbs. Anyway, the reason the switches flicker is that there is a capasitor in the circuit that keeps charging and discharging through the little neon bulb in the switch. I had a CFL bug light on my back porch and when I was outside looking at the stars at night, I kept seeing something out of the corner of my eye. I stared at the bug light for a while and it was flashing every few minutes as the high voltage circuit in the bulb would charge to it's ignition threshold then fire the bulb and start the cycle all over again.
Good luck.

Posted on Feb 09, 2011



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You cannot use standard electronic dimmer switches with CFL bulbs, only incandesant bulbs! That is why you are getting the flickering.

With CFL's bulbs installed in a light fixture that has a non-flouresant rated dimmer switch on that circuit, you will cause the standard dimmer to fail.

You have to look at the dimmer package (sometimes printed on the back of the dimmer itself too) to see if it can be used with CFL bulbs,as many are not rated for use with anything other than standard incandesant bulbs.

Hope you found this very helpful and best regards!

Posted on Aug 07, 2009



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I had the same issue the Switch was blinking not the CFL lights and I can say that it is because of the CFL bulbs. When I replaced the bulbs with regular bulbs it stopped flickering. I can live with the slight flickering just wanted to make sure I did not connect some wire wrongly..

Posted on Sep 13, 2013

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I had this problem and this site helped (I just changed the bulb to "old style" )

Posted on Feb 15, 2017


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I would say the switches are bad.
I have replaced several switches that have gone into the flicker mode. Problem being the neon gas escaped from the bulb over time because of a bad seal around the electrodes. Some are "bad" from the factory.

Test this by using a regular type incandescent bulb. If the switch flickers, then it's bad. Try the CFL, compact florescent bulb in another area where you have a switch like that installed and it was working properly.
It may be the electronics of the CFL do not pass enough power to the neon lamp in the switch.

Posted on Aug 05, 2009

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