No matter if you are replacing or installing new LED tube lights, you need to know the specifics of the products you are buying.
With this 3-minute guide about LED tubes, we clarify the most important concepts so that you can be confident about your decision.
LED Tube Size
Let’s get into it, the first thing you need to consider is the size. More specifically, the length and the diameter.
The most simple question you need to ask yourself before buying tubes is, how long do they need to be?
4ft T5 LED Tubes are actually slightly shorter than four feet, measuring precisely 45.8 inches.
The next difference in size is the circumference of the tube, which is measured by the diameter.
Put simply, the diameter of a tube can be recognized by the first digit in the tube name. Tubes come in three sizes: T12, T8 and T5, where T stands for Tubular and the digit stands for the diameter in eights of an inch (1/8”).
Today the difference between in circumference between T8 and T12 is less important since they often use the same pin base – meaning that they can often be installed interchangeably.
LED Tube Installation
When it comes to making sure your tube will be suitable for installation there are three factors to consider: The type, the base-pin and the wiring of the tube.
The first thing you need to decide on is which type of tube your current setup requires. This can be confusing for someone with limited electrical experience as the difference in each tube generally isn’t visually noticeable.
Tubes generally come in four types: Type A (Plug & Play), Type B (Ballast Bypass or Direct Wire), Type C (Remote Driver) and Type A+B (Hybrid)
The different types of tubes vary in how they are built and in which electrical manner they operate.
- The Type A led tube requires an electronic ballast and are suitable for when you want to replace a fluorescent tube but keep the existing ballast that you already have installed. Since the Type A tube allows you to just switch the tubes out, it is also known as a plug and play tube.
- The Type B tube provides the opposite capability compared to the Type A tube since it has to bypass the ballast and be installed directly to the wires. This requires a bit more work but will in the long-run be more efficient and durable.
- The Type C tube differentiates itself from the previous two types of tubes by not having an integrated driver within the tube. Instead, the tube comes with an external driver that allows for a more flexible installation.
- Finally, the Type A+B Tube is exactly what the name represents. It is a tube that works both with an existing ballast and without one. Because of this, it is often called a hybrid tube.
|Tube Type||Type A (Plug & Play)||Type B (Direct Wire)||Type C (Remote Driver)||Type A+B (Hybrid)|
|Advantages||Easy & Quick Installation||Most Efficient & Future-proof||Flexibility in installation||Compability & Flexibility (works with ballast and without)|
|Disadvantages||Possibility of ballast failure, ballast compability & slight increase in energy use||Requires some time & knowledge to install. (see how to)||Requires some time & knowledge to install||Same as Type A (when installed with ballast)|
|We carry a tube which is designed to work in both dual and single-ended installations.|
The second option to double-check is the type of pin that the tube uses as its end cap.
For tubes, there are three types of pins: G5, G13 and Fa8.
The G pins both have two respective pins on each end-cap. The number following the G represents the distance between the pins. Meaning the G5 pins are closer together than the G13 pins. Generally speaking, G13 pin bases are used for T8 and T12 tubes while G5 is specifically tailored for T5s.
In contrast, the Fa8 pin only has a single pin and is most commonly used for longer 8ft tubes.
The last installation factor involves how the electrical current flows within the tube and therefore which side of the tube is live.
Since there are only two ends on a tube, there are two options: dual-ended (DEP) and single-ended (SEP)
A single-ended tube is only live on one side while the other side is just there to hold the tube in the socket. Therefore, a single-ended tube needs to be wired by connecting both live and neutral wires to the same side.
A dual-ended tube on the other hand is live on both sides, meaning the neutral wires should be wired to one side and the live wires to the other.
Read more about the difference between single-ended and dual-ended tubes in our blog.
LED Tube Style
Now that you know the specifics of how to get your tube to work, it’s time to choose the style of your preference.
There are three different things to consider when choosing the right style for your LED tubes: Color Temperature (CCT), CRI, and the lens cover material.
The first two, CRI or CCT are variables explaining the type of light that the tubes emit – these are comprehensively demonstrated in our blog and apply to all led lights.
The third one is about the cover that the actual tube is made of and consists of two options: clear or frosted tubes.
The difference between a frosted and clear tube, is simply how the light will be distributed in its setting. While clear tubes let through the transparent glare that might be needed for the extra brightness, frosted tubes create a more diffused and even light.
LED Tubes FAQ
Can you replace fluorescent tubes with LED?
Yes! Replacing fluorescent tubes with LED is the way to go. LEDs provide better quality lighting, last longer and are more energy-efficient.
How to bypass ballast for LED tube?
Bypassing a ballast essentially means taking the ballast out in order to rewire the tube directly to the line voltage. Although it is a somewhat easy procedure to bypass a ballast with an LED tube, it is recommended that a licensed electrician is consulted.
What color temperature is best for LED tubes?
The best color temperature depends on where the tube will be installed. Generally speaking, 4000K is good for offices and work-spaces while 6000K suits garages, warehouses and high-security areas. Read more about choosing the right color temperature for LED tubes on our blog.
What’s the difference between T5 and T8 tubes?
T5s have a smaller diameter (5/8”) compared to T8s (1”). Also T5s often use a B5 base-pin which is different from the B13 that T8s usually are built with. Read more about the difference in size and pin-bases here.
What’s the difference between type A, B and C tubes?
Different tube types operate in different ways and therefore require different types of installations. For example, type A tubes are made to work with ballasts while Type B types are made to bypass the ballast and be wired directly into the line voltage. Read more about the different LED tube types here.
How long does an LED tube last?
The lifetime of an LED is generally 10,000 to 50,000 hours depending on its build and quality. At Hyperikon we guarantee a lifetime of 45,000 hours on all of our products, although we estimate lifetimes for up to 70,000 hours on most of our products.
What is the difference between dual and single-ended tubes?
The difference between dual and single-ended tubes is how the current flows within the tubes and therefore they require different installation steps.