(Topic ID: 262576)

House Lights Flicker/Dim when Flippers are Pressed

By CDogster

2 years ago


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  • 44 posts
  • 20 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by sk8ersublime
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    #1 2 years ago

    My house lights dim slightly whenever I press a flipper button on my pinball machine. I've tried running a super long extension cord to other outlets in the house to rule out the circuit that the pinball machine is on but it seems all other circuits are also affecting the over head lights in the room my pinball machine is in. I think the electricity draw is too much for my circuit breaker.

    How can I fix this?

    Do I need ConEd to install a higher power line to my house? What would I ask for from them or from an electrician?

    Is there some battery backup or capacitor that I could purchase and place under the pinball machine to account for this electricity load?

    #2 2 years ago

    How many amps service is coming in? 60, 100, 200?

    #3 2 years ago

    Is it just the flippers or any coil in the game? I’d of thought boiling the kettle or other various items would also draw more current. Does anything else effect your lighting? Or just the pinball machine? Maybe some weird grounding issue rather then current draw?

    #4 2 years ago
    Quoted from russdx:

    Maybe some weird grounding issue rather then current draw?

    That’s the easiest thing to verify so that’s where I would start. http://thecircuitdetective.com/outlet_tester_readings.php

    #5 2 years ago

    If it is determined that nothing serious is wrong with your pinball machine, I suggest that you have an electrician take a look at the wiring in your house. If you have an electrical problem of some type in your house wiring, it could cause more trouble than just flickering lights. That is, assuming you are not electrically inclined and able to investigate the problem yourself.

    #6 2 years ago

    I have the same issue. I've been playing pins this way for the past 10 years with no ill effect. I wouldn't worry about it. A solenoid is essentially a short circuit when current is first applied to it. A momentary surge in current in the home wiring which has a small resistance, lowering the voltage, resulting in a slight dimming in the room lights.

    When I turn on my stereo amp, the same issue occurs as well...Inrush current to the large caps. Similarly, when my AC unit first starts, the lights slightly dim.

    #7 2 years ago

    You could get a cheap UPS for about $50-$60 from Staples and try that. It's worth taking a look at some of your outlets to make sure the wires are secure, as flickering lights can be a symptom of loose connections, which can be a serious issue (builders install THE cheapest outlets they can, and usually they use the backstabber friction fits, I really thing the NEC should be amended to disallow this type of connection. Everything under a secure screw terminal for me, thanks).

    #8 2 years ago

    Dimming lights means your close to over loading the breaker and in doing so overloading the wires on that circuit. I personally would not keep doing this and identify what capacity you have before continuing. And adding a super long extension cord is the Last thing you want to do!

    #9 2 years ago

    LED house lights are much more likely to show flickering. I have some 120v LED lights in the bathroom on a different circuit than the pins that flicker slightly when people are flipping. I have other LED lights of a different make/brand that do not flicker at all from the flippers. Incandescent and compact fluorescent lamps never flickered.

    LED lamps built down to a cost and the cheapest ones probably skimp on capacitor that would stop the flickering.

    #10 2 years ago
    Quoted from Yelobird:

    Dimming lights means your close to over loading the breaker

    I haven’t heard this claim before. Can you provide some evidence to support it please?

    #11 2 years ago

    It is current draw, not an overload condition. Not uncommon when things such as a furnace start the inrush current, similar to what a flipper coil, demand more power on the circuit and therefore a dim is seen on simple things like lights that have no protection. Capacitors help mask this in many devices by absorbing this inrush current, but lights do not have this.

    #12 2 years ago
    Quoted from YeOldPinPlayer:

    I haven’t heard this claim before. Can you provide some evidence to support it please?

    I’m sure you could Google thousands of documents to support the concern. Not saying this is the issue but you would be foolish to not investigate your circuit load.

    Overloaded Circuit

    If your lights dim when you are running an appliance, such as a dryer, air conditioner, or microwave like in my case, check to see if the lights are on the same circuit as the appliance. You might be simply dealing with an overloaded circuit – meaning your circuit is outdated or wired to run more appliances than it can handle. This is typically the case if you are living in an older abode. Although annoying, overloaded circuits due to appliance usage are common and not typically a danger. However, if you find that your lights are dimming beyond the use of the appliance, or if the appliance is tripping your circuit breaker, another reason could be behind the dimming. It’s time to call an electrician.

    #13 2 years ago

    I think it could be a number of things that might cause the light to flicker. It is probably a loose connection somewhere. Over time, a loose connection will be build up carbon in the area where the wire is loose, which will get hot. The process will continue and can start a fire if it is left to get worse over time. Could also be an overloaded circuit or a voltage drop problem because of a long circuit on a wire that is too small for the load. Any one of these problems should be corrected before it becomes a major issue. Just my 2 cents...

    #14 2 years ago
    Quoted from Yelobird:

    I’m sure you could Google thousands of documents to support the concern.

    The onus is on you to support your claim. When someone makes a claim without sufficient evidence to support it you should dismiss it until they provide the evidence.

    #15 2 years ago
    Quoted from YeOldPinPlayer:

    The onus is on you to support your claim. When someone makes a claim without sufficient evidence to support it you should dismiss it until they provide the evidence.

    And as he is having issues with his House wiring the last place you should be getting facts is a pinball forum. Wasn’t looking to sign on as his electrician or assume the liability of such. A simple Google “house lights are dimming” would provide endless support suggestions.

    #16 2 years ago
    Quoted from Yelobird:

    And as he is having issues with his House wiring the last place you should be getting facts is a pinball forum.

    You are right.

    Game problem, plenty of help here.

    House problem - call in a pro.

    LTG : )

    #17 2 years ago

    First thing I would ask is the age of the house. This should not be happening in a newer home that was professionally wired.

    #18 2 years ago
    Quoted from Bryan_Kelly:

    First thing I would ask is the age of the house. This should not be happening in a newer home that was professionally wired.

    Professionally wired...LOL I remember whennI was an apprentice and I would here journeymen say, "Hey, if it lights up, that's good enough for me". So be aware there are bad contractors. But Bryan is correct, professionally it should be correct and up to code.

    #19 2 years ago

    My house will also dim when things like my audio amplifier are turned on, just like kevmad experiences. It's not just limited to the pinball machine but is much more noticeable because of the constant flipper usage.

    The house was built in 1958. Not old but not new.

    On my circuit breaker, the sticker on the panel door lists 150 amps. Is that too low? If I add up all of the individual circuit breakers the number is well over 150 amps so maybe I need a bigger line to the house and maybe I need a new circuit breaker?

    I only used a super long extension cord to test playing the pinball machine from a different circuit thinking the circuit that my pinball machine is on is overloaded. Thank you all for your thoughts and time.

    2020-02-26 20.27.02 (resized).jpg
    #20 2 years ago

    Looks like quite a bit has been added to the box. Adding up the breakers against the service amps isn’t that relevant. In general, you never want to have more than 80% of your power being used, whether for an individual circuit or the entire box. 150a is fine for many houses. But When you start adding a second AC unit, well pump or you add a pool, that’s when you need more amps. 200a service is the standard today. Looks like you’ve go 2 ac units, electric dryer, electric stove and cooktop, that’s quite a lot of power to pull on 150 amps. I’d be considering upgrading, but I don’t think that’s your issue.

    What else is running on the circuit your game is running on? It’s possible you have a bad connection somewhere along the line, either the outlet or the lights, or even at the box. One pin should not cause dimming lights on a 15a or 20a circuit, but it depends on what else is running.

    #21 2 years ago
    Quoted from CDogster:

    the sticker on the panel door lists 150 amps. Is that too low? If I add up all of the individual circuit breakers the number is well over 150 amps so maybe I need a bigger line to the house and maybe I need a new circuit breaker?

    No. Because each circuit isn’t being loaded to the max rating it’s protected for and all circuits are not being loaded to their max simultaneously. Also, a lot of electronics will draw more amps on initial power up and then settle down to lower levels. So a 15amp circuit (common size for receptacles and lighting) will usually only be using a portion of what it’s rated for unless the house wasn’t split up circuit wise correctly OR there is just way way too much on that circuit. Also, correct wire gauge that corresponds with the amp rating is very important. 15a circuits require 14g wire. 20a needs 12g and so on. That being said, people will replace a 15a circuit breaker to a 20a because they blow it all the time, not realizing that the wire can’t handle the excess power that it’s allowing to flow before blowing the breaker. This could cause dimming issues like you’re stating. It can also cause wire to overheat and cause a fire. I’m not saying any of this is your problem. But I am saying that your electrical service coming into house is just fine.

    #22 2 years ago

    I just noticed you have a lot of those cheater breakers. Those suck unless absolutely needed. I would upgrade your panel to a larger one with more spaces. You don’t necessarily have to up the service coming into the house but I would get rid of those twin breakers. Just my two cents.

    #24 2 years ago
    Quoted from bssbllr:

    Just to verify if he upgrades the panel
    Box with more spots it would be a 200amp which would require an upgrade to the service coming into the house I believe.

    Not always. Usually if it’s over 30 spaces, then it’s a 200amp panel. His panel has 24 spaces which is usually a 100a service so I’m not sure if he actually has a 150a service panel. Bottom line, he needs an electrician over there to make sure everything is safe before it’s too late. He looks to be overloaded with all those cheater breakers.

    #25 2 years ago

    I doubt seriously that there is a problem with the load capacity of your breaker panel. The real issue is much more likely a loose wire or an overloaded circuit. Most pinball machines will not pull enough current to effect any one 15 or 20 amp circuit breaker. However, if there are many other loads on one circuit, that the pinball machine is also connected to, that could be an issue. If you can do a megger test on the circuit that the pinball machine is on, a loose connection or other problem could be located. If you can't do that test or don't know what that is, that is what licensed electricians are for. One test that you could do, would be to turn off the breaker that runs your pinball machine and see what other major loads are turned off. If there are major loads on that circuit, you might try moving the machine to an outlet on a different circuit that is lightly loaded. Major loads would be things like an electric heater, HVAC, refrigerator, stove, electric water heater, etc, etc... If you do move it, make sure you use an extension cord of sufficient capacity, so that you don't make the problem worse. That is, of course, if there is not some other problem in the pinball machine that is causing your issue...

    #26 2 years ago

    Before you spend any money on an electrician, contact your electric utility. Explain that you are experiencing power quality problems, bright and dim lights, etc. and that you would like the utility to perform an investigation and monitor the incoming power. Most states require that utilities respond within in a week or so and perform an investigation free of charge. Most states require the utility to maintain residential voltages within +/-5% of 120 volts (114-126 volts); ask the utility to provide you with a graph of the recording to show that the incoming voltages are within tolerance. There could be a number of utility-related problems that could be causing your issues, such as an undersized transformer, bad neutral connection, undersized service wires, too long of service length, etc.

    Once any utility-caused issues are ruled out, pursue contacting a licensed electrician.

    #27 2 years ago
    Quoted from Eric_S:

    Before you spend any money on an electrician, contact your electric utility. Explain that you are experiencing power quality problems, bright and dim lights, etc. and that you would like the utility to perform an investigation and monitor the incoming power. Most states require that utilities respond within in a week or so and perform an investigation free of charge. Most states require the utility to maintain residential voltages within +/-5% of 120 volts (114-126 volts); ask the utility to provide you with a graph of the recording to show that the incoming voltages are within tolerance. There could be a number of utility-related problems that could be causing your issues, such as an undersized transformer, bad neutral connection, undersized service wires, too long of service length, etc.
    Once any utility-caused issues are ruled out, pursue contacting a licensed electrician.

    This is a very good point as well. I’ve seen problems with power loss at the meter socket on the outside of the house before. This is where the power meets the panel. Over time the spade receivers that the meter socket snaps into can stretch open and lose a solid connection causing micro arcs, in turn not supplying full power to the panel. I know this from personal experience on a past house. I kept having phantom power issues at random times. I always thought it was the panel or bad breakers. Turns out it was a bad meter socket.

    #28 2 years ago

    Thank you all. It seems like my next step is to contact ConEd, followed by an electrician.

    Does anyone here run their pinball machine with an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) underneath? If things get expensive, this may be an affordable way to go.

    #29 2 years ago
    Quoted from CDogster:

    Thank you all. It seems like my next step is to contact ConEd, followed by an electrician.
    Does anyone here run their pinball machine with an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) underneath? If things get expensive, this may be an affordable way to go.

    A UPS will Not fix your home wiring issues it will simply waste the money you need to pay an electrician to fix the Actual problem in the house.

    #30 2 years ago
    Quoted from CDogster:

    Does anyone here run their pinball machine with an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) underneath? If things get expensive, this may be an affordable way to go.

    I don’t think a UPS would help with your issue. A power conditioner might. That's a question you should ask your electrician.
    amazon.com link »

    1 week later
    #31 2 years ago

    Any updates on your dimming lights issue?

    #32 2 years ago
    Quoted from Eric_S:

    Any updates on your dimming lights issue?

    Not yet, no progress.

    #33 2 years ago

    How far are you from the utility service point? Overhead or ug strike? I had problems similar- with stove starting up or furnace.. some 1959s wiring and done later 80s additions. We had a total rewire and new panel installed. Turns out we had a ton of stuff on 1 circuit, probably a fire hazard. I’d check out exactly what’s on that same circuit just in case.. but generally (as a service engineer for a utility) If you’re in a residential neighborhood and within a span of your transformer or closer I highly doubt you’re getting voltage drop at your termination point over 3%. You can check it easily get one of those plug in deals to see what voltage you’re getting at outlets

    #34 2 years ago
    Quoted from CDogster:

    Thank you all. It seems like my next step is to contact ConEd, followed by an electrician.
    Does anyone here run their pinball machine with an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) underneath? If things get expensive, this may be an affordable way to go.

    UPS does nothing for your problem..if your whole house dims, as LTG said, time for licensed electrician out there....loose neutral, worn or broken insulaters in panel, etc. burn houses down.

    4 months later
    #35 1 year ago

    old thread, but relevant. I have the same issue in my town house built in 2017. Electric was inspected/Tested during our build process.

    CFL bulbs were in the can lights in my basement and i dont recall them dimming unless my laser printer kicked on.

    I switched to LED bulbs, specifically cheap daylight bulbs from Walmart (Great Value), which very well might be the issue, but the definitely flicker when hitting a flipper. Ill have to see if it does it when a pop, sling or vuk coil go, ive never really paid attention, but it seems related to the LED bulbs as i didnt notice it with the CFLs.

    EDIT: Also, ive never flipped a breaker while playing. I have 2 pins (South Park and TSPP) and a Pac-Man and TMNT cabinet, though rarely are they all on at the same time. I have had everything on at once for a pretty much an entire evening with friends over playing, and never flipped the breaker.

    #36 1 year ago
    Quoted from sk8ersublime:

    old thread, but relevant. I have the same issue in my town house built in 2017. Electric was inspected/Tested during our build process.
    CFL bulbs were in the can lights in my basement and i dont recall them dimming unless my laser printer kicked on.
    I switched to LED bulbs, specifically cheap daylight bulbs from Walmart (Great Value), which very well might be the issue, but the definitely flicker when hitting a flipper. Ill have to see if it does it when a pop, sling or vuk coil go, ive never really paid attention, but it seems related to the LED bulbs as i didnt notice it with the CFLs.
    EDIT: Also, ive never flipped a breaker while playing. I have 2 pins (South Park and TSPP) and a Pac-Man and TMNT cabinet, though rarely are they all on at the same time. I have had everything on at once for a pretty much an entire evening with friends over playing, and never flipped the breaker.

    Most home LED bulbs unless defined Specifically for dimming will flicker if there is Any voltage drop as they assume they are being dimmed. Buy better Dimmable LED bulbs and I suspect your issue will be fine.

    #37 1 year ago
    Quoted from Yelobird:

    Most home LED bulbs unless defined Specifically for dimming will flicker if there is Any voltage drop as they assume they are being dimmed. Buy better Dimmable LED bulbs and I suspect your issue will be fine.

    They actually are Dimmable LEDs and I have a dimmer, maybe its the crappy dimmer i installed....

    #38 1 year ago
    Quoted from sk8ersublime:

    They actually are Dimmable LEDs and I have a dimmer, maybe its the crappy dimmer i installed....

    Very possible. Theres a reason some dimmers are 3$ and some 25$. Think they note for LED lighting not positive.

    #39 1 year ago
    Quoted from sk8ersublime:

    They actually are Dimmable LEDs and I have a dimmer, maybe its the crappy dimmer i installed....

    You need special dimmers for LED bulbs.

    3 weeks later
    #40 1 year ago
    Quoted from Bryan_Kelly:

    You need special dimmers for LED bulbs.

    The dimmer I have is for CFLs or LEDs, there is a mode switch on it you have to toggle. I checked it this past weekend as I also noticed the flippers make the CRT monitor on my TMNT and Pac-man cabinets bounce slightly.

    #41 1 year ago

    In my experience, LED bulbs on a dimmer will dim/flicker quite a bit when a load (other lights, fans, ac) comes on line. Incandescent bulbs did not flicker. 110 year old house with 100A panel and drop, updated panel in the1990s, no central ac.

    Don C

    #42 1 year ago

    It is the probably cheap LED lamps. The LED lamps in my bathroom and some bedrooms flicker when people flip in the living room and that never happened before with CFL or incandescent. I have noticed the LED lamps that are not dimmable have this effect. The ones that are dimmable do not seem to have the flicker on flip effect. Small sample size. I think I have some feit, walmart brand, and kroger brand lamps.

    #43 1 year ago
    Quoted from Bryan_Kelly:

    You need special dimmers for LED bulbs.

    I should also mention, your LED's have to be dimmable along with the dimmer being for LED's.

    #44 1 year ago
    Quoted from Bryan_Kelly:

    I should also mention, your LED's have to be dimmable along with the dimmer being for LED's.

    Yea i made sure of that lol. The lights were a little annoying, but im more concerned about the CRTs in my Pac-man and TMNT slighting bouncing when i press a flipper button

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