Once upon a time, fluorescent lighting was the most cost effective and energy efficient lighting solution around. But today, LED lighting outperforms fluorescent lighting in a number of ways that would you make you wonder, why haven’t I made the switch?
There are two ways to go about making the switch to efficient and long-lasting LED lights from your old fluorescent lights: the long way or the short way.
You can redo the whole lighting by replacing your existing fluorescent fixture with a full new LED fixture or you can convert your existing fixtures to work with LED.
Today we will give you simple explanations to both ways in an attempt to make it easier for you to understand how to convert flourescent tubes to LED tubes.
But first, you’ll need to have a solid understanding of how LED light bulbs differ from the previous technologies, especially compared to traditional fluorescent tubes.
So what is the difference you ask? Simple, ballast is the key difference!
What is the ballast? And why do LED tubes not need one?
The ballast is a wired-in component inside a fluorescent fixture that regulates the electrical current to provide a steady flow of energy for fluorescent lights.
In short, a ballast keeps your house current from acting up (and down) to avoid causing accidents from your energy use.
Fortunately, LED technology does not require a ballast to regulate energy flow as they are much more stable in comparison. In fact, the most energy-efficient LEDs will bypass the ballast by removing it entirely from the fixture.
A ballast bypass is a common procedure and method that removes the ballast from the existing fixture. The bypass method is often required for most retrofit installations that are not using plug-and-play LED tubes. It is an easy process that reduces energy draw and prevents any potential functionality problems. More importantly, the ballasts uses energy to do its job so by not bypassing it, the ballast will add around 10% of the light fixture’s energy use.
Our installation guides include instructions on how you can remove a fluorescent tube’s ballast yourself.
Three ways you can convert your existing fluorescent tubes to LED tubes
1. Retrofit the fluorescent tube
You can easily retrofit a fluorescent tube using plug and play or hybrid LED tubes. They are known as ‘universal ballast compatible’, and remove the need for any complex wiring. The installation process is as simple as following the instructions to slide in and connect your new LED tube.
Plug and play tubes do come with some disadvantages, though, such as:
- Potential Ballast failure (plug-and-play tubes utilize the existing tube’s ballast)
- Higher energy usage (when compared to other LED tubes)
- Potential ballast incompatibility.
Note the difference in energy use when using a plug and play option. Read more about the future of plug and play tubes here.
2. Retrofit the tube and ballast
Direct-wire tubes can be used to retrofit the tube and bypass the ballast. This can be achieved by disconnecting wires to the ballast and tying it off with wire nuts. The fixture is then rewired using the provided wiring diagram before the installation of any LED tubes.
Only problem is, this is more difficult than retrofitting the tube alone and, as is the case with other electrical installations, requires the fixture’s power to be disconnected at source. However, it is worth your effort — retrofitting the tube and the ballast will eliminate problems emanating from ballast failure and incompatibility. Plus, it’s more cost-efficient than other methods in the long run.
3. Replace the whole fixture
Of course, you can always replace your entire fluorescent fixture with an LED one. The easiest way to do this is to use magnetic mount kits or an LED panel or troffer. Replacing entire fixtures can be more expensive than simply retrofitting old tubes however, and does require rewiring as well as possible ceiling remodeling where the old fixtures once were.
The benefits are often worth it though, culminating in lighting fixtures that are modern, slimmer, longer-lasting and more versatile in how and where they can be installed than ever before.
Replacing fixtures is by all accounts a future-proof and long-lasting option.
There it is. Now you should know how to convert your flourescent lights to LED.
If you are still unsure of how to make the switch - simply call our customer representatives and let them find the best possible solution for you.