Dual-ended vs Single-ended LED Tubes

What's the Difference?


If you have ever searched for an LED tube to buy, you have surely noticed the sea of options between the different lengths, power, types within the LED tube category. Unlike other types of lights, even the most basic LED tube lights require a little knowledge from you, the shopper, to make the best and most suitable choice.

Worry not, the pros at Hyperikon is here to break it down for you.

What's the actual difference?

When you come across the decision between dual-ended or single-ended tubes, think installation.

The fact is: each tube has two ends and four pins (two pins on each end) to hold it in place regardless of installation, type, or length.

When an LED tube is single-ended, it means the tube light is powered from one end only - and consistently so when you install multiple tubes together for a larger or denser lighting area (via Daisy-chain or multi-chain installation).

When electricity is wired to power your LED tube from both ends, you would call the tube dual- or double-ended.

Simple enough, right?

How does Dual ended Tube Light Bulbs work?

As you can see in the dual-ended tube diagram below, electricity flows though both side of this double-end-powered tube. This means that dual-ended tubes are not polarized and whichever side with two pins you pick can be your “live”or “neutral” end.

dual ended tube light bulb installation

When wiring these dual-ended tubes for your fixture, you get to pick a side for your live end. As you connect the live wire from power source to the live end of the tube, you will also do the same and connect the neutral wire to the other side of the tube (which is now the neutral end) to qualify the job as UL-approved safe LED light tube installation.

Never let the live wire and neutral wire touch each other by any means. Be sure to double check your fixture’s existing tombstones for any debris to wipe clean with dry cloths.

multiple daisy chain dual ended tube light bulb installation

Electricians often tell us that they can't get enough of our popular dual-ended LED tubes for its low-maintenance installation, it is literally the more the merrier!

For multiple (2+) dual-end tubes installation that is powered by one power source such as multi-chain and daisy-chain installation), utilize the second pin on each end to connect to the next tube following the same pattern of live versus neutral you have established in the first DE tube.

When you daisy-chain your dual-ended tubes, because you are connecting the live end to the next tube’s live end, neutral end to next tube’s neutral end, you’ll want to make sure you have enough wiring material for your desired installation pattern all the way through before starting the job.

How does Single ended Tube Light Bulbs work?

While there is usually no cost difference between tubes of the two types of powering methods, single-ended tubes are often the easier choice for electricians because they are live on only one end with a more straight-forward installation. (see below)

single ended tube light bulb installation

Similar to an AA or AAA alkaline battery we all know and love-- single-ended tubes are polarized. The live end of the single-ended tube has two pins for you to use as live or neutral, one pin for live and the other as neutral. Most premium single-ended tubes will come with clear markers like “AC Input” to indicate the live end of the light tube for your convenience.

multiple daisy chain single ended tube light bulb installation

When you install multiple single-ended LED tubes, wire the live pin to the next tube’s live pin, and then neutral pin connects to the neutral pin on the next tube.

Though a lot is going on in the small area around the pins, be sure to never let the live pin and wire touch the neutral pin and wire. You can consider the other side of the tube as the “dead” end of the tube, which will serve no other purpose than to securely hold the tube in place with the help from the non-shunted tombstones in your fixture.

pro tip protection man installing

Still not sure which LED tube fits your job? Call our dedicated support team and have your questions answered by an Hyperikon LED expert free of charge.

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