To L.E.D. Or Not L.E.D.: Converting Fluorescent Light Bulbs To LED
Have you just started to consider converting all of your fluorescent bulbs (T5, T8, T12) to LED?
Well, it's not complicated, but it may not be as straight forward as you think.
Here is some Simple Information about the process:
There are basically two types of LED tubes:
- Retro Fit bulbs don't use a ballast (the electronic thing inside the lamp that makes the tubes glow). That is, you will tear out the ballast, throw it away, then re-wire your fixture. This is a fairly simple process; However, you may (will most likely) need to replace the Lamp Holders (The ends that hold the bulbs in). You can get a bunch of these cheap on Amazon.com. There are two types of lamp holders: Non-shunted and shunted. MAKE SURE you have the right type for you conversion. A great video on this is HERE.
- Plug and Play are designed to replace your current fluorescent bulbs (usually T8 or T12) without having to do any rewiring. That is, just take out the old fluorescent bulbs and replace with the new, plug and play, LED tubes. However, the LED tubes will require an electronic ballast. Many of the older fixtures (like mine!) have magnetic ballasts so the LED bulbs WON'T work with these. (so much for plug and play). To get them to work you will have to replace the magnetic ballast with an electronic one. You can get an electronic ballast on Amazon for about $12 (at the time of writing this article).
Before you start, you should compare stats. These bulbs are usually measured as:
- Lumens = The total amount of light coming from the bulb. A typical LED tube gives you about 2100 lumens per bulb. A typical fluorescent tube will give you about 2300 lumens per bulb. (*because LED is less many ads for LED tubes won't tell you the amount of lumens)
- Watts = The amount of power used. The basic T12 fluorescent bulb usually uses 40 watts. LED tubes are usually about 18 watts; hence, LED will use less power.
- Kelvin = This is the light appearance. I like to say "color." 4000 Kelvin is yellowish while 6500 Kelvin is bright white. I've never seen anything higher than 6500K; if it exist, please contact me! Most house lights are less than 4000K (yellowish) while most office and garages are closer to 6500K (white).
Other things to keep in mind (learn from my mistakes):
- Many of the LED light fixtures; that is, fixtures that come with the LED tubes already installed are one piece. That is, once the bulb goes out, you can't replace it; you're supposed to just throw the whole thing away. This is common on Amazon.com
- LED lamps rarely last as long as the manufactures claim. I bought some small ones at Home Depot that claimed they would last for 18 years. They lasted a little more than a year. Save your receipts!
- When you install the new tubes, write the installation date on the tube so you know how long it lasted!
- Note that generally fluorescent lamps give you more lumens than LED lamps. This can make a big difference if you're using a lot of lamps, like for a big garage. To be honest, this tipped the scale for me, and I have given up on LED lamps and just replaced my fluorescent lamps with new ones.
- Please don't get the wrong impression: LED lamps use less energy, are very bright, and last a long time, they are a great solution for most cases!
Did I miss something? Let me know HERE.
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