Ways to Upgrade Fluorescent Lights to LED

Ways to Upgrade Fluorescent Lights to LED

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Fluorescent lighting is a common choice for lighting in commercial buildings. LED lightbulbs are becoming more popular as the superior light choice. LED lighting holds numerous advantages for business owners such as lower energy consumption, longer life spans, and money-saving properties. While changing fluorescent lightbulbs to LED lighting is as simple as screwing in a new bulb, switching fluorescent fixtures to accommodate commercial LED tube lighting can be much more difficult. It is possible to replace these fixtures altogether with LED-specific fixtures, although it can be costly. Because of all these factors, you should follow these ways to upgrade fluorescent lights to LED by converting current fixtures.

Instant Fit  

Instant fit conversions are the easiest way to convert your fluorescent lighting to LED. Converting your current fluorescent light fixtures to accept LED bulbs can save you hundreds of dollars that you would be spending on a complete replacement of each of your fluorescent fixtures. LED tubes, known as UL Type A tubes, are also commonly referred to as “instant fit” or “plug-and-play” tubes. These tubes are designed to be installed directly into fluorescent fixtures without any modifications. While modifications aren’t required, if the ballast is more than five years old, it is recommended that you replace the ballast before installing new LED bulbs.   

Ballast Bypass Conversion  

Another way to upgrade fluorescent lights to LED is with LED tubes known as UL Type B tubes. These tubes can be used in the ballast bypass conversion method which requires rewiring to completely bypass the ballast. UL Type B tubes are commonly referred to as ballast bypass or direct wire bulbs. Ballast bypass tubes hold an advantage over using instant fit LED lights as they do not require replacing the ballast. By bypassing the ballast completely, there is no need for new ballasts in your light fixtures. This factor can save you anywhere from $20 to $75 per light fixture, unlike the instant fit conversion method.

Tips for Conversion  

When planning to use a ballast bypass, label the fixture to make it clear it has been rewired to use only UL Type B tubes. You should also make sure the tubes you are planning to use come with an installation guide or wiring schematic as rewiring can vary based on if the tube is one-sided, one-ended, two-sided, or tow-ended. Talking to the supplier can be extremely helpful in the conversion process. Professionals can assess your current fixture’s operating performance and provide recommendations on how to make the conversion go smoothly. Lastly, reach out to your local electrical suppliers as some may offer discounts for businesses making the switch to LED bulbs, saving your business even more money.   

Different Types of Sockets  

The type of socket that is being used on existing fluorescent light fixtures can present difficulties for converting to LED tubes. LED tubes require non-shunted sockets, whereas fluorescent tubes can use a shunted or non-shunted socket. A shunted socket uses two sets of wires to send voltage to both contact points. In a non-shunted socket, the contacts are completely separate from one another. Typically, you can tell the difference between non-shunted and shunted sockets based on the size of the bulb. T12 or tubular lighting with a twelve-eighths of an inch diameter commonly uses non-shunted sockets. T8 and T5 sockets usually use shunted sockets, unless they are diming fixtures. To be sure, use a volt-ohm meter to determine if the socket is shunted or non-shunted. If your sockets are shunted, converting to non-shunted sockets is a fairly cheap fix.

One-End and Two-End Ballast Bypass Tubes  

Single-end and double-end tubes are both offered in the lighting industry; this fact can make converting to LED fixtures through ballast bypass challenging. With a single-end bulb, all of the wirings go to one end of the fixture, as the name suggests. The sockets on the other end of the fixture are then left unwired. Double-end fixtures require more work to convert. With double-end fixtures, you wire the supply or hot wire (which is usually red or black) to the sockets at one end of the fixture and the neutral wire (which is typically white) to the other end of the fixture. Some fixtures in commercial buildings will be two- to four-bulb fixtures. In this case, each bulb will be wired the same. The supply wire will be wired to all the bulbs on one end and the neutral wire will be wired to all the bulbs on the other end.   

Safety Precautions  

Working with electricity in any capacity is a dangerous job. If you are new to electrical work, it is best to be accompanied by a professional for advice and assistance during the process. You should always make sure to disconnect the power source and turn the lights off before beginning the conversion process. Other important safety precautions to note include using gloves or a cloth when handling bulbs rather than your bare hands. In addition, give the bulbs time to cool down if they have been powered on, as the bulbs will be hot.   

LED lighting is a worthwhile venture for your commercial business. LED fixtures are eco-friendly and energy-efficient lighting options that can save you money in return. By using less energy per watt, having an increased lifespan and durability, and reducing warm-up time, getting LED lights is a cost-effective effective switch that will save your business on monthly electricity bills. Beyond saving on your electricity bills, you’ll also save money on supply and maintenance costs. Fluorescent light fixtures are becoming a thing of the past, although they can be difficult to get rid of. Completely switching fluorescent fixtures to LED fixtures is a possibility, but you can also convert your current fluorescent fixtures through instant fit LED tubes or a ballast bypass conversion. Each method holds its advantages, such as instant fit conversions being the quickest fix and ballast bypass saving money on replacement ballasts. No matter what option you choose, the switch to LED light fixtures will be a money saver in the end. 

Ways to Upgrade Fluorescent Lights to LED infographic


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