Which Type of Tube Light is Right for Your Application?
LED light bulbs have come down in cost over the years so much that you can buy them at a similar price point as fluorescent bulbs. Does that mean you should replace all of your fluorescent tubes with LED tubes immediately? Not necessarily. While LEDs last longer, meaning less maintenance in the long run, switching can come with an upfront labor cost for installation. Fluorescent lighting has also gotten more efficient and better at color rendering over the years. If fluorescents still work for your building, you may want to continue with the same bulbs.
What's Your Ballast Situation?
What ballast your fixture uses also comes into play when deciding which type of tube lighting is right for your space. While there are LED plug-and-play ballast compatible tubes, not all LED tube lights work with all ballasts. If your magnetic, core and coil, strike start, or T12 ballasts are still operating and the fixture just needs a new bulb, it may make sense to stick with fluorescent tubes until the ballast fails. LED bulbs are not compatible with those ballast types, so the ballast would need to be removed, the fixture rewired, and sockets may need to be replaced. Similarly, if your circuit is controlled by a dimmer that does not support LED, that's something else you would need to upgrade at the same time if switching to LED lighting.
When It's Easier To Upgrade From Fluorescent T8's to LED T8's
Fluorescent fixtures that use instant start or electronic ballasts are easier to upgrade to LED. Plug and play or hybrid LED tubes are compatible with many of these ballasts. It's always best to check the ballast compatibility PDF on each product page prior to purchase. If the ballast is compatible, replacing fluorescent tubes is as easy as removing the fluorescent tube and replacing it with LED. Plug and play tubes will only work so long as the ballast is still operational, however a hybrid tube can be used in a direct wiring installation once the ballast has been removed and the fixture rewired. Most LED tubes require non-shunted lampholders, which are not commonly used with instant start ballasts, but some double-ended tubes make installation easier by allowing the fixture to keep the original sockets.
Not sure which lighting is right for your application? Give us a call at 1-800-624-4488 to speak with a lighting expert and get a customized lighting solution for your business.