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T8 LED Tube Lights and LED Tube Replacements

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LED T8 Tubes

T8 LED lights are commonly used for office lighting and can replace fluorescent lights in both parabolic and indirect light fixtures. They work best in climate controlled areas with standard ceiling heights, including storage areas, fabrication floors, and mechanic garages. LED tubes are an energy efficient replacement for fluorescent tubes. They also boast better color rendering, require less maintenance, and burn out less frequently with up to 100,000 lifetime hours.

When switching from fluorescent tubes to LED, don't get too caught up on wattage equivalent. Look instead at the number of Lumens produced by the LED tube and consider the height of your fixture. For offices, retail spaces, hospitality, and applications with similar ceiling height, 4 ft. tubes with 1800 Lumens or less are the most popular. You don't want to overwhelm a space and make customers or employees feel like they are sitting in an interrogation room. For taller ceilings that use strip lights or high bay fixtures, LED tube lights with over 2000 Lumens offer the brightest output.

Direct Wire vs. Plug-n-Play

The technology for T8 tubes has advanced to the point where they are available in the traditional direct wire or the newer plug-and-play options. Plug-and-play T8 lamps operate with the fixture's existing fluorescent ballast, so no rewiring is necessary. The direct wire LED tubes run off of the line voltage that flows straight to the sockets. With this option the fixture's ballast must be bypassed and removed. Direct wire LED tube lights were traditionally wired at just one end and required the use of non-shunted tombstones only, but we now carry double-ended LED tubes. These tube light bulbs are wired at both ends to utilize non-shunted or shunted lampholders. If you're not sure which installation method is right for you, we also carry a third option. Hybrid LED tubes can use either installation method, so it can plug in directly to the fluorescent fixture and work with a compatible ballast when first installed. Then, once the life of the ballast has run out, you can bypass the ballast without needing a new lamp. Ballast compatible hybrid and plug-n-play replacement tubes sold at all have a Ballast Compatibility PDF or spec sheet hyperlinked on the page to help you find the correct fluorescent replacement tubes. Because fluorescent ballasts use a small amount of electricity, direct wire LED tubes offer more in energy savings over the life of the light bulb compared to ballast compatible LED tubes. LED tubes are an excellent way to retrofit fluorescent fixtures without having to replace the entire housing.

Depending on the manufacturer, these lights may be called type A, type B, or type A/B.

  • Type A: These are ballast compatible lamps, but not every LED tube will be compatible with all ballasts. When replacing fluorescent tubes, make sure to check the Ballast Compatibility PDF or spec sheet hyperlinked on the LED tube product page prior to purchase. One of our lighting experts is only a phone call away if you have any questions or concerns regarding ballast compatibility.
  • Type B: Direct wire lamps that are not ballast compatible. These tubes require the ballast to be disconnected and removed from the fixture prior to installation. These lamps are wired directly to line voltage and often require non-shunted sockets, so you may need to change the sockets at the same time.
  • Type A/B: Hybrid T8 linear tubes. Similar to type A tubes, these lamps are not compatible with all ballasts. Check the Ballast Compatibility PDF or spec sheet for a full list of fluorescent ballasts that are compatible with these LED tube lights. Alternatively, these tubes can also be used as a direct wire tube which makes these a flexible option. Check the installation instructions or confirm with a licensed electrician if you choose to bypass the ballast.

T8 LED Tube Color Temperature

When replacing or installing overhead lighting, it's important to understand color temperature so that you have consistent lighting across an area. Lower Kelvin values mean the light output is more yellow and higher Kelvin values mean the light output is closer to blue. The 3000 Kelvin T8 bulbs have a similar yellow glow to a halogen light bulb. The 4100 Kelvin T8 bulbs are considered a cool white with color output similar to clear metal halides. This is the recommended color light for general lighting in offices and work-spaces. 6500 Kelvin T8 bulbs are a daylight equivalent with a bluer glow than traditional lighting. A Kelvin temperature of 5000 of higher is recommended for display areas, high security areas, and garages.

Understanding LED Tube Sizes

The easiest way to tell what size tube light you need is to read the label at the end. If the label peeled off or is no longer legible, you can measure the diameter to figure out the size. The "T" stands for the tubular shape of the light bulb and the number gives the diameter in eighths of an inch. A T8 has a one inch diameter, T5 has a 5/8 inch diameter, and T12 is a 12/8 inch (or 1.5 inch) diameter. If a T12 and a T8 use the same bi-pin base, you can use them interchangeably with the same light fixture as long as you double check the milliamp (mA) requirements of the ballast, if one is present.

LED Black Lights

The most common type of black light tube is a fluorescent. The black light blue or "BLB" tube light has a dark blue coating on the tube which filters out most visible light. The fluorescent lights use a phosphor that emits UVA light instead of visible light, allowing the fluorescence effect (or glow) to be observed. Ultraviolet light can also be generated by some LED lights. Because the wavelength is set by the diode, these LED tube lights don't need the same colored coating as fluorescent lights.