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Old 02-12-2013, 12:16 AM   #1
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"Locator Light" flickering on light switch


For the only 2 light switches that control the lights up the stairs to the second floor in my home, both switches have a "locator light" feature -- if you're not familiar, or the feature may go by different names, this is just a feature where an LED light illuminates around the light switch when it's off. It's probably for safety since it's for the stairs in the dark, etc.

The problem: Recently I noticed that the LED on the switch at the bottom of the stairs has been flashing when the lights are off (the LED light is supposed to stay on solid orange, instead it flickers randomly). I thought it might be the power on the whole switch, however, the other switch at the top of the stairs that controls the same lights is just fine. No flickers, just a solid LED border around the light switch when in the OFF position -- just like I would expect.

So my question is, what would be the prudent steps to troubleshoot this? Should I just try to replace the light switch? Are these "locator light" LEDs known to go out?

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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Old 02-12-2013, 12:36 AM   #2
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"Locator Light" flickering on light switch


What type of lamps (bulbs) do you have on the fixture that these switches control. Lighted switches like you have often do not play well with CFL or LED lamps.

BTW, the light source in those switches is usually a neon lamp not LED.

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Old 02-12-2013, 01:02 AM   #3
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"Locator Light" flickering on light switch


Yes, those bulbs do flicker, especially once they get old, or as stated above, if you are using a CFL or LED bulb in the fixture. If you want a night light, and you do not have a "Switch leg", use one of these http://www.cableorganizer.com/levito...ght-light.html Kind of pricey, but you do not have to worry about someone leaving the light on, when leaving the stairway area.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:26 PM   #4
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"Locator Light" flickering on light switch


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Originally Posted by rjniles View Post
What type of lamps (bulbs) do you have on the fixture that these switches control. Lighted switches like you have often do not play well with CFL or LED lamps.

BTW, the light source in those switches is usually a neon lamp not LED.

Thanks for the response. The strange thing is that the bulbs are just regular 60W bulbs, nothing fancy like LED lamps. This is just a plain-jane light fixture that these two switches control with old-school bulbs in it. The switch at the top of the stairs does not flicker, but the one at the bottom does.

Thanks for the clarification on the light source in the switch. I assumed LED but wasn't sure. Thanks.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:28 PM   #5
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"Locator Light" flickering on light switch


Some actually are going to LED, due to they do not give off heat, and use less voltage when the lights are off, but the switch is lit.
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Ren: Now listen, Cadet. I've got a job for you. See this button? Ren: Don't touch it! It's the History Eraser button, you fool! Stimpy: So what'll happen? Ren: That's just it. We don't know. Maybe something bad, maybe something good. I guess we'll never know, 'cause you're going to guard it. You won't touch it, will you?
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:31 PM   #6
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"Locator Light" flickering on light switch


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Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post
Yes, those bulbs do flicker, especially once they get old, or as stated above, if you are using a CFL or LED bulb in the fixture. If you want a night light, and you do not have a "Switch leg", use one of these http://www.cableorganizer.com/levito...ght-light.html Kind of pricey, but you do not have to worry about someone leaving the light on, when leaving the stairway area.

Thank you for the response as well. I think you are saying the same thing but just to be clear this is the "bulb" in/around the light switch that I'm referring to -- I'm NOT talking about a flickering coming from the lights/bulbs that these switches control.

This is not really used as a night-light so much as the fact that when it's pitch dark you can see where the switch for the light is.

The weird thing is that the light switch is not that old. Maybe 3 years old. Since the one at the top of the stairs doesn't flash though, and they must be on the same circuit since they control the same light, I guess my next step is to buy a new one this weekend and see if it fixed the problem when I use it as a replacement.

Thanks very much for the responses. Much apprecaited.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:34 PM   #7
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"Locator Light" flickering on light switch


Again, regardless of the age of the switch, they go bad. I have seen electrical devices bad out of the box, and bad within a couple of months. Stuff is not made like it used to be, when made here in the U.S., where standards were higher, than those in Mexico & China, where the majority of stuff is manufactured these days.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:36 PM   #8
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"Locator Light" flickering on light switch


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Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post
Again, regardless of the age of the switch, they go bad. I have seen electrical devices bad out of the box, and bad within a couple of months. Stuff is not made like it used to be, when made here in the U.S., where standards were higher, than those in Mexico & China, where the majority of stuff is manufactured these days.

Ok, I understand and agree with you. Replacing the switch should be cake. Now the difficult talk will be trying to find the same one so it matches the rest of them in my house. When I get the switch off, is the manufacturer and part # usually there and visible? Just trying to think ahead on what the best way to match this will be. I didn't do the initial installation a few years back, the people that we bought the house from did and are long gone (so I can't ask them). Thanks again.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:52 PM   #9
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"Locator Light" flickering on light switch


Take the old one with you. You could also check online through Amazon.com to see if they have something close to it, if you can not find at your local Lowe's, Home Depot, Ace Hardware.

With Leviton & Pass & Seymour being the two main brands, you are usually stuck with only certain styles, and most stores will either carry the Decora in either residential or Commercial, and same for the standard lever switch.
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Ren: Now listen, Cadet. I've got a job for you. See this button? Ren: Don't touch it! It's the History Eraser button, you fool! Stimpy: So what'll happen? Ren: That's just it. We don't know. Maybe something bad, maybe something good. I guess we'll never know, 'cause you're going to guard it. You won't touch it, will you?
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:42 PM   #10
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"Locator Light" flickering on light switch


Quote:
Originally Posted by ferrugia View Post
Now the difficult talk will be trying to find the same one so it matches the rest of them in my house. When I get the switch off, is the manufacturer and part # usually there and visible? Just trying to think ahead on what the best way to match this will be.
I don't think you REALLY want to buy the same brand, especially if this one isn't very old- once burned twice shy as they say!
I have one of those switches and in a few months or less it's little light started flickering, they are junk. Get a regular switch and a plug-in nightlight which is real easy to replace the little bulb for.
Every time you replace a wall switch or outlet you have to pull all the wires out of the cramped little box with it, do that a few times and you weaken the wires from bending them back and forth, you already don't know how MANY times that switch had been previously replaced.
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Old 02-12-2013, 11:38 PM   #11
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"Locator Light" flickering on light switch


It is normal for neon indicator lamps to flicker a little,
They usually use very low currents, usually 500 micro amps.
So any leakage in the circuit will induce a small voltage
that will cause the neon to flicker.
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Old 02-13-2013, 12:21 AM   #12
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"Locator Light" flickering on light switch


Good news, I got it working tonight with a new 3-way lighted switch that I picked up at Home Depot.

I was fortunate in that Home Depot had the same one (or very similar) made by Leviton so it matches the existing ones I already have in my house that are working -- I didn't want to replace them all or have mismatches. Ya, I can see that it's assembled in Mexico and I would rather have German, but it was $7 and the problem is solved so I'm happy. If these keep breaking I will switch to something else next time. Glad not to have that annoying flickering in the dark anymore.

Re-wiring the 3-way switch was easy, there are Youtube videos that make it so simple. It look less than 5 minutes. Very easy DIY.

Thanks to everyone who contributed input. I hope this can help someone else in the future.

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