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Fixing Flicker and the Headaches that Follow

July 2015

Flickering lights can be a huge distraction. Consumers don't want to trade efficiency for such lighting downfalls, especially when it has a potential impact on their health. A new Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standard strives to address these concerns by educating lighting manufacturers on managing flicker.

The standard, PAR1789, is titled "Recommending Practices for Modulating Current in High-Brightness LEDs for Mitigating Health Risks to Viewers." It recommends modulated frequency practices to aid the performance of LEDs, currently the most energy efficient lighting product on the market. Properly managing flicker is crucial to the success and adoption of energy efficient technology.

From PNNL's Advanced Lighting Team, Michael Poplawksi served as the Vice Chair and Noami Miller as a member of the IEEE P1789 Working Group. The group uncovered that flicker had both short and long term health effects, including epileptic seizures and headaches. Visible flicker was found responsible for seizures, while invisible flicker can be a cause of headaches, malaise, and impaired visual performance. Mitigating these health issues with approved recommended practices would be a big win for the lighting industry – and the IEEE P1789 Working Group did just that.

The recommended practices, approved in early June 2015, will be used to inform the lighting industry and standards groups, such as ANSI/NEMA, IEC, and EnergyStar, about the emerging concern of flicker in LED lighting and methods for mitigating the biological effects caused by LEDs. To learn more about the ways to mitigate flicker, read the IEEE conference publication.

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Energy and Environment

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