Lights Flicker When the Well Pump Kicks On

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  #1  
Old 07-29-14, 08:01 AM
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Lights Flicker When the Well Pump Kicks On

I had to have my well pump replaced recently. I had a 3-wire, 240V, 1/2 HP submersible deep well pump previously. It has now been switched out to a 2-wire, 240V, 1/2 HP Grundfass 3" submersible deep well pump. They placed a reducer on the pump because of my low GPM flow. The wiring is as follows:

*15 AMP double-pull breaker.
*14-2 to a 4-way [light] switch which shuts things down.
*14-2 to the pressure switch.
*14-2 to the buried well wire [12-3].
*12-3/2 wire too the pump.

Since the new pump was installed the lights in the house 'flicker' very quickly & very fast. This did not happen with the old pump. I have had a lot of suggestions thrown at me, but am looking for additional advice so I am not pulling at straws randomly.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.
 

Last edited by snowolson; 07-29-14 at 10:22 AM.
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  #2  
Old 07-29-14, 08:16 AM
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You specifically say that your pump has NOT been switched to??? Is that a typo or do you have a different type of pump?

I assume you have a deep well submersible pump and the pump is down in the well. You said you went from a 3 wire to "not" a 2 wire. Do you now have a 2 wire or a 3 wire pump? If you now have a two wire pump what was done with the previous pump's control box?

What is the "4 way switch"?
 
  #3  
Old 07-29-14, 09:57 AM
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Clarification:

I apologize. There was a typo in my original post. Thank you for catching it.

The pump was switched out from a three wire deep well submersible style pump to a TWO wire deep well submersible style [Brand: Grundfos] pump.

The pump is down in the well. It was sitting at 40' deep. The pump is now sitting at 85' deep. The well itself is 120' deep.

The relay control box is no longer in use for its original purpose. The box itself is now being used as a junction box for wire connections to the two wire pump.

A standard 4-way 20 AMP [light] switch is in line between the breaker box and the pressure switch to shut off the pump. The incoming 110/110 is connected on one side and the outgoing 110/110 going to the pressure switch is connected on the other side.

I hope that clarifies things.

Keep the questions and answers coming.

Thanks.
 
  #4  
Old 07-29-14, 10:35 AM
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A standard 4-way 20 AMP [light] switch is in line between the breaker box
Wrong type of switch unless this is being consoled from three or more location. Are yo confusing a two pole single throw switch (DPST) with a 4-way switch or are you using the wrong switch?
The incoming 110/110
Incorrect. Both legs are 240. If you used the wrong type of switch change it out and see if lights still flicker.

Tech notes: Nominal voltages are 120 and 240, no 110. A 4-way switch is a special type of double pole which does not turn off electricity. It simply changes the AA/BB connections to AB/AB.
 
  #5  
Old 07-29-14, 10:51 AM
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Hi snow-

Ray is an electrical expert (not me for sure, lol), but if it’s not the switch I wonder if one or both of the new connections in the control box are loose? I think that can cause flicker?
 
  #6  
Old 07-29-14, 11:15 AM
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Wrong type of switch unless this is being consoled from three or more location. Are yo confusing a two pole single throw switch (DPST) with a 4-way switch or are you using the wrong switch?
Note: it was installed before we owned the house.

I am not confusing a 2-pole throw switch with a 4-pole switch -there are 4 screws, not two. According to the markings on the switch it looks like a standard 4-pole throw switch.

I think it is the wrong type of switch for this application regardless if it is a standard 4-pole switch isn't it? However, it did work just fine with the old pump. So I am stumped. When I throw the switch it seems to shut off the new pump as well. So why would it be causing problems now and not before?

Ray - Looking for your advice and insight!
 

Last edited by snowolson; 07-29-14 at 11:32 AM.
  #7  
Old 07-29-14, 11:21 AM
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Incorrect. Both legs are 240. If you used the wrong type of switch change it out and see if lights still flicker.
Please correct me if I am wrong. On my 15 AMP double pull breaker, each wire is carrying 120 volts. Both legs are not 240 volts. Each leg is 120 volts feeding into the 4-way switch, correct?
 
  #8  
Old 07-29-14, 11:24 AM
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Hi snow-

Ray is an electrical expert (not me for sure, lol), but if it’s not the switch I wonder if one or both of the new connections in the control box are loose? I think that can cause flicker?
That is one of the first things I checked. GTG. Thanks!
 
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Old 07-29-14, 11:46 AM
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On my 15 AMP double pull breaker, each wire is carrying 120 volts. Both legs are not 240 volts.
Your house is supplied with 240 volts from a center tapped (neutral connection) transformer. The 120 is derived from one 240 volt leg and the center tap (AKA neutral).On you pump you have just the 240 volt legs.

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I am not confusing a 2-pole throw switch with a 4-pole switch -there are 4 screws
Not what I wrote both are two pole switches and both have four screws and look very similar. (No mention was made of a four pole switch.) As I wrote previously:
A 4-way switch is a special type of double pole which does not turn off electricity. It simply changes the AA/BB connections to AB/AB.
 
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Old 07-29-14, 11:57 AM
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Your post has been move to the electrical forum because it is more of an electrical problem than a pump problem.
 
  #11  
Old 07-29-14, 12:30 PM
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Help me understand if the original switch installed is correct please & if something needs to be done with the switch or if I communicated things wrong.

The two hot wires coming from the 15 AMP double-pull breaker feed into the bottom two screws of the throw switch [one on each side]. The top two screws then feed from the throw switch to the pressure switch. When I flip the switch off the pump does go off.

1. How do I know if this is the correct switch - like I said, it is original so I can only go by the little that is scribed on the switch?

2. If you think it is the wrong switch, why is it acting up now - because of the 2-wire pump instead of 3?

3. If it is the wrong switch, is it going to do any harm to the pump?

4. If the switch is no longer a concern, now what?

A sincere thank you.
 
  #12  
Old 07-29-14, 12:45 PM
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If it turns off the pump it is correct. You just threw me when you called it a 4-way. A 4-way will not turn off the pump.

How long do the the lights flicker. Is it all the lights in the house. Is the new pump's amperage higher?
 
  #13  
Old 07-29-14, 12:47 PM
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The switch you have, just to be clear, is a double pole, single throw disconnect switch. Light switchs (single pole) normally only open one line...yours opens both connected lines. Pretty common as a cutoff for 240V powered equipment like motors and pumps. "Pole" does not mean how many screws are on it, pole means how many paths are disconnected.

It's not the switch.

The Pro's may be able to help with the real issue, but you'll probably need to do some voltage and current checks.
 
  #14  
Old 07-29-14, 12:49 PM
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Is there any particular time when the lights flicker? All the time? Just when the well pump is turning on? Or all the time when the well pump is running?
 
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Old 07-29-14, 01:57 PM
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How long do the the lights flicker. Is it all the lights in the house. Is the new pump's amperage higher?
Ray.

I apologize for the confusion with terminology.

They flicker very briefly just when the pressure switch kicks in and the pump starts. They 'flicker'. They do not dim. It appears to happen to any of the lights in the house.

Note: We use CFL light bulbs.

The new pump [as I was told by the installer] is a slow start pump and draws less than 5 AMPS at full running capacity [4.9 to be exact]. Again this is what the installer told me. This should make the amperage close to the old pump; however, I am guessing based on similar pumps as I never had a reason to measure the AMPS before on the old pump.
 
  #16  
Old 07-29-14, 02:04 PM
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Is there any particular time when the lights flicker? All the time? Just when the well pump is turning on? Or all the time when the well pump is running?
The lights only flicker when the pressure switch closes and the well pump kicks on - every time. They flicker very slightly & very quickly and then return to normal.
 
  #17  
Old 07-29-14, 02:27 PM
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Try screwing in some old fashioned incandescent bulbs and see if they dim when the pump comes on. I'm wondering if the CFL's flicker because they are basically on or off and can't dim like a regular light bulb.

What kind of electrical service do you have to the house? Is it old and maybe only 60 or 100 amp for the house? Do you have fuses or circuit breakers?
 
  #18  
Old 07-29-14, 03:18 PM
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Try screwing in some old fashioned incandescent bulbs and see if they dim when the pump comes on. I'm wondering if the CFL's flicker because they are basically on or off and can't dim like a regular light bulb.
I was thinking the same thing. I'll have to go buy some because I got rid of them all.

What kind of electrical service do you have to the house? Is it old and maybe only 60 or 100 amp for the house? Do you have fuses or circuit breakers?
The house was built in 1976. I have a 200 AMP Service box with circuit breakers.

Connexus Energy [electrical company] is the first step I took. They replaced my transformer [new 15 KVA], checked the ground, disconnected, cleaned, & reconnected all the overhead line connections, and put a voltage recorder on my meter [at my request]. They checked the incoming voltage and it is 123/123/246. The transformer is not shared. They also went down the line & found one loose neutral.

Still hasn't improved things.
 
  #19  
Old 07-29-14, 03:45 PM
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Surely it will be impossible for you to get the advice you need here.... you'll need an electrician to troublshoot and assure your connections are sound.

However, I wouldn't be surprised if your just seeing the normal effects of voltage drop. Some small flicker/dimming should be expected with motors. Some people are more sensitive to light output than others.
 
  #20  
Old 07-29-14, 07:50 PM
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oK- it looks like the switch issue has been resolved. The old pump was 3

wire and the new one is 2 wire. You also mentioned a relay that is no

longer in use. This is what I think. I believe the 3 wires from the old

motor represented the Common, Start, and Run connections in the old motor.

So the old relay was probably a POTENTIAL TYPE MOTOR STARTING RELAY. The

motor wires would have been connected there. There may have also been a

MOTOR START CAPACITOR. Those items assist the motor in starting. Do you

still have those old components? The newmotor with only 2 wies is probably

a split phase or shaded pole motor which would account for the high

amperage at startup and the flickering lites. Can you post the model # of

the new pump?
 
  #21  
Old 07-30-14, 07:28 AM
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Do you

still have those old components? The newmotor with only 2 wies is probably

a split phase or shaded pole motor which would account for the high

amperage at startup and the flickering lites. Can you post the model # of

the new pump?
You are correct. With an old 3-wire system, you have a capacitor & relay used on startup. I have the old components because they just turned the relay box into a junction box. I will try and find out the model of the new pump. All I know right now is that it is a 2-wire, 0.5 HP, 3", Gundfos, slow start pump. I wouldn't say it is pulling high AMPS though - it pulls 4.9 AMPS at full run speed. Is that high for a well pump?
 
  #22  
Old 07-30-14, 08:15 AM
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It's the start up amps that can pull the circuit down. Typically three times or more than run amps so you are looking at 15 amps are more. It would be interesting to put an Amprobe on it to see how many amps it pulls at start up. How far is the pump from the breaker box. What size wire from the breaker box to the pump house? What size is your main breaker?
 
  #23  
Old 07-30-14, 08:44 AM
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It's the start up amps that can pull the circuit down. Typically three times or more than run amps so you are looking at 15 amps are more. It would be interesting to put an Amprobe on it to see how many amps it pulls at start up. How far is the pump from the breaker box. What size wire from the breaker box to the pump house? What size is your main breaker?
When the well pump guy measured the startup amp draw, he said it was less than 5 amps as it is a slow start pump. Not sure that is correct but he said his meter read 4.9 amps at startup. The information on my wiring & pump distance is as follows:

*15 AMP double-pull breaker.
*14-2 to a switch which shuts things down [35' feet max run - very liberal number].
*14-2 to the pressure switch.
*14-2 to the buried well wire [12-3].
*12-3 wire to the well.
*12-2 will down the well to the pump.

The well is about 10' max from our house. The pump is down at 85'.

Ironically, I just talked to the well guys and he is going to come out and confirm the startup amp draw and pump model.
 
  #24  
Old 07-30-14, 08:46 AM
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Lights Flicker When the Well Pump Kicks On
Is this condition just as the pump motor starts or does it continue the entire time the pump motor is running?
 
  #25  
Old 07-30-14, 08:56 AM
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Is this condition just as the pump motor starts or does it continue the entire time the pump motor is running?
The lights only flicker when the pressure switch closes and the well pump kicks on - every time. They flicker very slightly & very quickly and then return to normal.
 
  #26  
Old 07-30-14, 09:08 AM
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Is this condition just as the pump motor starts or does it continue the entire time the pump motor is running?
The lights only flicker when the pressure switch closes and the well pump kicks on - every time. They flicker very slightly & very quickly and then return to normal.
That doesn't sound much different than a quick normal slight dimming of the lights when an a-c condensing unit starts. You could blame it on your service or even the utility transformer and drop, but I think what you are seeing is pretty normal for most residential applications.
 
  #27  
Old 07-30-14, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by snowolson
I had a 3-wire, 240V, 1/2 HP submersible deep well pump previously.
It has now been switched out to a 2-wire, 240V, 1/2 HP Grundfass 3" submersible deep well pump.
Double check the installation paperwork - it sounds like the slow-start isn't working.
Could be a mistake, installed a normal pump?

Originally Posted by snowolson
They placed a reducer on the pump because of my low GPM flow.
Why? I wonder whether the additional restricton is making the pump work harder?

Why use a reducer? If you have a 120' deep well, and the prior pump worked at 40' then you should have a static water level above 40 feet.
If your pump is at 85' now, you should have at least 50' of water in the well bore, which
ought to be plenty of water for normal use.
 
  #28  
Old 07-30-14, 09:20 AM
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Double check the installation paperwork - it sounds like the slow-start isn't working.
Could be a mistake, installed a normal pump?
No paperwork, but the well guy is coming back out to verify things. I will get the paperwork at that time.

Why? I wonder whether the additional restricton is making the pump work harder?
The well guy said it shouldn't affect the function of the pump.

Why use a reducer? If you have a 120' deep well, and the prior pump worked at 40' then you should have a static water level above 40 feet.
If your pump is at 85' now, you should have at least 50' of water in the well bore, which
ought to be plenty of water for normal use.
The well is only producing 5.5 GPM. They put the reducer on the pump to protect the pump and restrict it to 5 GPM. They also dropped it down further for additional protection as my static water level is TBD. We have had a LOT of rain in our area. They believe the normal static level is at about 20-30'. I have one neighbor where it is at 15'. The guy on the other side of me has a static water level at 38'.
 
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Old 07-30-14, 09:23 AM
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That doesn't sound much different than a quick normal slight dimming of the lights when an a-c condensing unit starts. You could blame it on your service or even the utility transformer and drop, but I think what you are seeing is pretty normal for most residential applications.
True, but it did not happen with the old well pump so I wanted to be extra cautious and make sure nothing is wrong. Note: It does not happen when my AC kicks on.

Doubtful it is the incoming power as I talked to them & they replaced my transformer [new 15 KVA], checked the ground, disconnected, cleaned, & reconnected all the overhead line connections, and put a voltage recorder on my meter [at my request]. They checked the incoming voltage and it is 123/123/246. The transformer is not shared. They also went down the line & found one loose neutral.
 
  #30  
Old 07-30-14, 10:28 AM
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Please let us know what the well pump guy says.
 
  #31  
Old 07-30-14, 12:10 PM
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I just quickly looked at the Grundfos website and don't see where they offer a 3" submersible pump with a soft start.
 
  #32  
Old 07-30-14, 12:45 PM
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Originally Posted by snowolson
Originally Posted by Hal_S
Why use a reducer? If you have a 120' deep well, and the prior pump worked at 40' then you should have a static water level above 40 feet.
If your pump is at 85' now, you should have at least 50' of water in the well bore, which
ought to be plenty of water for normal use.
The well is only producing 5.5 GPM. They put the reducer on the pump to protect the pump and restrict it to 5 GPM.
Eh, the slow-start pump should already have run-dry protection built in. I'm starting to wonder about what you paid, versus what you got.


Better question - did you ever run out of water when the pump was set at 40' deep?


Follow up question- Is the well bore 6" or 8"?
I ask because, quick googling gives about 1.5 gallon per foot at 6" and 2.5 gallons per foot at 8".
I'm in an area where there are homes on granite hills, I know people with under 1 gallon per minute,
and 600' deep wells, basically they rely on the slow filling up of the well bore to provide water.

So, guessing you are at 35' static, the pump at 85' gies a fifty foot column of water.
That's 75 to 125 gallons available to the pump each time it runs.
Average shower is 17 gallons, that's about 4 to 7 showers worth of water in the bore at each pumping.
 
  #33  
Old 07-30-14, 12:45 PM
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I just quickly looked at the Grundfos website and don't see where they offer a 3" submersible pump with a soft start.
I will try to get more detailed information from the well company to verify. I am not seeing one either.
 
  #34  
Old 07-30-14, 01:04 PM
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Eh, the slow-start pump should already have run-dry protection built in. I'm starting to wonder about what you paid, versus what you got.

Better question - did you ever run out of water when the pump was set at 40' deep?
I was there and something happened and the pump shut off. The well company said it had gone into overload protection mode and run out of water. This is another part of why they said they dropped it another 40'.

Follow up question- Is the well bore 6" or 8"?
Must be a 6" bore because the largest pump that will fit is a 4" diameter pump.


I ask because, quick googling gives about 1.5 gallon per foot at 6" and 2.5 gallons per foot at 8".
I'm in an area where there are homes on granite hills, I know people with under 1 gallon per minute,
and 600' deep wells, basically they rely on the slow filling up of the well bore to provide water.

So, guessing you are at 35' static, the pump at 85' gies a fifty foot column of water.
That's 75 to 125 gallons available to the pump each time it runs.
Average shower is 17 gallons, that's about 4 to 7 showers worth of water in the bore at each pumping.
Now, I'm kinda suspicious about the restrictor on the pipe.
I questioned it also, but they indicated that was my static now [today] and the well is only producing 5.5 GPM. They said if the static level changes [because it has been unusually wet], the well starts producing less, I run a garden hose full bore for a long time, I could be pushing the limit.

A lot of variables would have to stack up though. I do know that without the restrictor, most well pumps run 12 GPM which could very likely run me dry if I ran a lot of water.

Side Note: In the research I did I came up with 1 gallon per foot for a steel case drilled well that accepts 4" pumps.

Correct me if I am wrong please! I am looking for all the help I can get.

Keep the conversation going!
 
  #35  
Old 07-30-14, 01:25 PM
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The “slow start pump” may not draw higher amps at start up..............i do not know

some of the new air handler blowers start VERY SLOW and take 3 or 4 minutes to get up to speed.
And they do not spike amps...........they start at zero and SLOWLY rise to what ever speed it is going to.

Sounds like it is fixing to take off.

If the a/c does not do it..........and the old pump did not do it...............than it is likely the new pump.....

or the pump circuit...................

when the pump man returns

with everything else he does..............have him

ck and record the starting amp of the pump

ck and record the running amp of the pump

ck and record the voltage at the pressure switch with the pump off......this should be the same as the panel

ck and record how low the voltage goes at the start up of pump.....drop should be under 10 or 15%.......a larger circuit wire size would help here.

ck and record the voltage at the pressure switch with the pump running........this drop should be low................ 2 or 3% max.................if higher …......circuit wire to small........or........loose joint or connection somewhere between the breaker and the pump motor..............or


write all the numbers down ….....put it in the disconnect ….....when you have the pump worked on in 5 years it will help a lot/
 
  #36  
Old 07-30-14, 03:03 PM
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Update! Pump information results!

JohnSC
HAL-S
PILOT DANE
RAY2047
AND ALL OTHERS!


The well company just stopped by and took a look at things and here is what I found out from him over the phone. Hopefully I captured everything correctly.

1. The pump is a 1/2 HP Grundfos slow start pump.

2. Pump model number is: 10SQ05-160. He left the information at my house. I can provide more if needed.

3. The pressure switch engages & the pump kicks in and draws 0 amps at initial start & then slowly ramps up to 4.5 AMPS. My old pump drew about 5.8 AMPS with capacitor/relay start.

4. The AMP draw varied by 0.1 AMPS after several starts.

5. The pump drew 242 volts at startup with no problems and settled at 240 volts consistently. I believe he checked this at the pressure switch - easiest spot to monitor.

6. He checked the wire connections in the house & no problems were found.

7. He has talked to the manufacturer & the electricians they use and doesn't know what else he can do.

8. He & his crew [there was more than one guy that came with, but I do not know how many] could not see the flicker after several attempts.

9. I had my wife watch the lights closely [gave her specific instructions], and she indicated it is difficult to see, but she still sees the flicker.

Maybe I just have Superman vision and am making a volcano out of an ant hill.

Give me your feedback guys!
 
  #37  
Old 07-30-14, 07:10 PM
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I think what you are seeing is pretty normal for most residential applications.

.......................................
 
  #38  
Old 07-30-14, 08:28 PM
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Could be noise on the power lines feeding back to the panel bus, do you have a panel surge protector? That would cut down a bit of the noise.

Do you see the flicker/dim if you use incandescent light bulbs? They are more likely to react to voltage sags but less likely to react to noise as they tend to average out high frequencies.

Noise would also affect a radio signal, if you listen to a cheap radio while the pump cycles on and off do you hear any static?

Grasping at straws here with those ideas, but there is clearly a cause and effect going on. It would be nice to capture the flickering with an oscilloscope to see the actual power quality at the time of the event
 
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