Transformer Hum with GE Smart Switch

Has anyone noticed a loud buzzing/humming sound coming from transformers when dimming lights (particularly LED lights) with GE (or similar) smart switches? Just installed two LED pendants with a transformer in the base and getting a nasty buzzing sound from the base, but only when dimming. This gets worse when it’s just slightly dimmed, then gradually decreases as the light is dimmed more. Both lights are doing this which tells me it’s unlikely to be just a bad transformer.

Is this a bad switch? Are GE switches not rated for transformers and/or LEDs? Is this just something people live with?

What’s the model number of the switch? Different GE models are rated for different types of fixtures.

That said, yes, it’s probably the transformer.

  1. The newest z-wave plus smart dimmer from GE.

Do you mean it’s just a normal transformer and that’s what they do, or just poorly designed/made ones, or malfunctioning ones?

It’s a mismatch between the switch and the transformer. The GE zwave brand is a budget brand. It doesn’t dim as low as many of the other Z wave switches and it doesn’t work with transformers very well.

You probably need a switch rated for either magnetic low-voltage or electronic low-voltage depending on the type of transformer that it is. Or a “universal“ dimmer.

Do you have any recommendations for dimmers that may work well in this capacity?

Leviton and Eaton both have universal zwave dimmer switches, i’m not sure who else.

And the Fibaro dimmer 2 micro.

I should say also that there’s still no guarantee… A hum is the result of the combination of the bulb, the fixture, the switch, and the wiring. Sometimes it just takes trying several different combinations before you find one that’s acceptable.

What’s the brand and model of the bulbs that you are using?

It also works best if your LED bulbs are dimmable, Non dimmable bulbs will make it hum and flicker. Had the same problem till I changed the bulbs out, No problems now.

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Thanks @JDRoberts - I’ll look those up, and I certainly don’t mind experimenting. Can always return what doesn’t work.

@Albert_Santiago fortunately my LED fixtures (integrated) are dimmable, at least according to the seller.

Also interesting comment about how low the GE switches can dim. They’re working really well with my 6" recessed LED lights (fully dimmable, no noise, low latency) but this particular pair of lights is…tough

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Update - tried multiple dimmers, including non-smart lutron & leviton, as well as the leviton z-wave smart dimmer. The buzzing continues to happen with all switches, leading me to think it’s not a switch, of course.

Obviously, the next best idea is that the transformers used in the lights are just loud on their on, right? Is it possible its something else? Is there anyway my electrician (who just rewired and installed the wiring to these lights during my remodel) could have mixed something up or put something too close? Anything else to try before giving up?

Thanks so much everyone

Have you tried a regular non dimming switch?

I haven’t but they don’t buzz when fully on, and buzz very little when very dim, so it’s definitely a function of the dimming

I know you all ready answered this in a previous post, But I have 8 bulbs in my master bathroom on one dimmer and they hummed loudly, I went through the same thing your doing changing the switch with a different brand used GE Leviton and a ZOOZ they all had the same hum, went and bought 8 new Dimmable bulbs and it stopped, I even tested the other switches and no humming. you will find if you use the switch some where else in the house with a dimmable bulb or bulbs they won’t hum. It might be just your lights.

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Definitely try swapping the bulbs for a different brand, and make sure they are marked as dimmable. There could be a big difference between one brand and another.

In my experience, these three brands will often have different results: FEIT, Phillips, and GE. It’s not that one is always best, it’s just that they are engineered a bit differently.

If that doesn’t do it, you might get in touch with the electrician, this is a very common problem even with dumb switches.

Thanks - so, they’re actually integrated units with LED panels built into them. The transformer is in one part of the light (base, screwed into the ceiling), with integrated LED panels in the pendants. So, no bulbs to replace. Given that I’ve replaced switches, I’m out of things to replace other than the wiring, which may be tough.

Is there anything in particular that I might ask the electrician to look into?

Really appreciate it all

Thanks Albert - that’s definitely the leading thought. But given the lights are integrated and I happen to like the look/function of them (really, everything but the hum), I’m wanting to be sure it’s that before swapping out. If it were just bulbs I wouldn’t hesitate to replace.

Is your fixture rated for dimming? Having a builtin transformer means LEDs are low voltage. Transformer should be replaced with what’s called LED driver and both this and the LEDs should be rated for dimming. Check all labels/part numbers on transformer and pendants.
Wiring replacement will not give you dimming capabilities.

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Some fixture/bulbs are just noisy. They more than likely, will not buzz with a fancy dumb dimmer.

I have ALOT of LED bulbs/fixtures and Smart Switches and have ran across your issues on several occasions. The “buzzers” are all on “full on” fixtures.

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Thanks - yeah, the transformer is built into the fixture, and it’s rating for dimming, so I’m sure they match. I’m not sure they’re of quality, though, or functioning properly.

That’s what I’m afraid of - that’s it’s just “how they are.”

Unfortunately they really only work in my house in this specific spot, and they’re past return period (doing a remodel and hadn’t gotten around to installing them yet).

And even with the more expensive Lutron and Leviton dumb switches they made the same noise.