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The Best LED T8 tubes and how to retrofit them

In this guide you will find the best LED tubes for your needs, how to retrofit, the kinds of savings you will make with LED and an extensive FAQs list.

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Definitions

  • Lumens—the brightness of the bulb. The higher the lumens, the brighter the bulb.
  • Colour temperature—the visible colour of the light, ranging from warm white to daylight.

Best LED T8 tubes by size

Bulb

Size

Lumen output

Colour temp

Lifespan

Price

Sylvania 2ft 8w SubstiTUBE Value T8 LED Tube

osram led tube

2ft

650lm—750lm

2700k

30,000 hours

£9.00

Energizer T8 2ft 9 w LED Tube Frosted

energizer led tubes

2ft

935lm

4000k—6000k

30,000 hours

£4.80

2ft 9w LED T8 Tube - Single Ended Wiring

new led tube

2ft

900lm

4000k—6000k

30,000 hours

£3.72

T8 3ft 14w Led Tube Frosted (High Output)

frosted

3ft

1470lm

6000k

30,000 hours

£7.80

Energizer T8 4ft 18w LED Tube Frosted

energizer led tubes

4ft

1850lm

6000k

30,000 hours

£7.50

4ft 18w LED T8 Tube - Single Ended Wiring

new led tube

4ft

1800lm

4000k—6000k

30,000 hours

£6.89

Energizer T8 5ft 22w LED Tube Frosted

energizer led tubes

5ft

2015lm

6000k

30,000 hours

£9.24

5ft 23w LED T8 Tube - Single Ended Wiring

new led tube

5ft

2300lm

4000k—6000k

30,000 hours

£8.96

Energizer T8 6ft 30w LED Tubes Frosted

energizer led tubes

 

6ft

2250lm

4000k—6000k

30,000 hours

£12.96

T8 8ft 40w Led Tube Frosted (Extra High Output)

frosted

8ft

3850

4000k—6000k

30,000 hours

£35.99

LED T8 tubes and colour temperature

Kelvin is a unit measurement for the colour temperature of light, and is used to determine the shade of white rendered by LEDs. Most LED tubes start at approximately 2700k up to 6500k.

  • 2700k : Extra warm white
  • 3000k: Warm white
  • 3500k: White
  • 4000k: Cool white
  • 6000k: Daylight

2700k – 3500k is generally reserved for areas wanting a more yellow light such as living rooms and homely areas.

Cool white and daylight are often used in workplaces such as factories and offices. This is because studies have shown higher levels of kelvins improve alertness and concentration.

Best warm white LED T8 tube

Best cool white LED T8 tube

Image

LED

new led tube

5ft 23w LED T8 Tube - Single Ended Wiring

  • 320o beam angle covers a wide space
  • Minimal yellowing over 30,000 hour lifespan
  • Available in 4000k (cool white) and 6000k (daylight)
  • IP50 rated
  • 30,000 switch cycle

Best daylight LED T8 tube

Image

LED

energizer led tubes

Energizer T8 5ft 22w LED Tube Frosted

  • Designed as a direct retrofit meaning it can be wired straight to the mains
  • 30,000 hour lifespan
  • No light wastage
  • Frosted design – frosting eliminates glare and minimises shadows

Fluorescent vs LED

 

Fluorescent

LED

Dimmable?

No

Dimmable options are available

Lifespan

7,000—15,000 hours

30,000 hours

Shatterproof?

No

Most LED tubes are made with a shatterproof coating

Environmental impact

Made with mercury, which is environmentally toxic

LED contains no mercury and uses less power to run

Energy usage

Uses an excessive amount of energy when switched off/on

At least 30% more efficient than standard fluorescent bulbs

Energy efficiency label

A+

A+

Warm-up time

One minute to reach full brightness

Instant

Benefits of LED tubes

  • Energy-saving—can save you between 45% and 65% in energy costs
  • Instant warm-up—immediate light compared to one-minute warm up times
  • Long life—30,000 hours compared to 7,000—15,000 hours
  • Strong lighting performance—brighter light for less energy
  • Safer for the environment—no mercury and consumes less electricity

LED savings

 

8ft fluorescent tube

8ft LED tube

Wattage

100w

40w

Electricity cost per year

£43.80

£18.40

Savings* per tube:

Wattage—58% reductions

Cost—£24.40 saved per tube

*Savings are based on one tube being on for 10 hours a day with an electricity cost of £0.12 per KW

Retrofitting LED T8 tubes

At Lamp Shop Online, we stock a range of LED T8 tubes designed for retrofitting into lamps previously used for fluorescent lights.

Fluorescent lights rely on ballasts in order to operate. Ballasts are designed to create a high-voltage burst to get the fluorescent light started and then regulate the power that comes into the tube. LED needs none of this and instead uses a driver, rendering the ballasts useless. These ballasts can cause issues when trying to fit an LED tube.

Lamp Shop Online stocks a range of direct retrofitting tubes, which completely cut out the ballasts.

Internal driver tubes

With our tubes, you can wire the sockets directly to the line voltage and simply remove or bypass the ballasts.

We use single-end wired tubes—one socket end has the line voltage and the other holds the lights in place.

LED battens

There is a lot of confusion are what battens are. You will see multiple articles comparing fluorescent lights vs LED battens around the internet. However, this is making the assumption that LED battens are a light source themselves.

Battens are simply a type of fixture that houses tubes, both fluorescent and LED. You can purchase battens with the LED tubes already fitted.

1p65 luminaire

Benefits of LED battens

With the wide variety of LED battens available, you will find several benefits including:

  • Easier installation
  • Waterproof options available
  • Dustproof options available
  • Emergency options available

To see our full list of LED battens: click here

FAQ

Are LED tubes as bright as fluorescent tubes?

Yes.

Fluorescent tubes have a 360o beam angle, which means light is wasted by pointing back into the fixture or roof.

LED tubes are available in a range of brightnesses (see table above). LED tubes also direct the light downwards so no light is lost. While LEDs use less wattage, they still retain a high level of lumens (brightness).

Do LED tubes need ballasts/starters?

No. LED tubes contain drivers—electrical devices that regulate the power to the LED bulb.

Drivers are much more efficient and safer than a starter or ballast. LED drivers protect the LEDs from fluctuations in voltage and current.

How to remove ballast for LED tubes

Simply remove the cover from the ballast and unscrew the ballast from the unit.

How to replace fluorescent tubes with LED

Replacing fluorescent tubes with LED is relatively straightforward, so long as you understand electrics.

  • Remove the bulb – Some light fixtures have covers which you will need to remove.
  • Remove the ballast – Remove the cover from the ballast and unscrew the ballast from the unit.
  • Rewire – Twist the wires together with an appropriately sized wire nuts. Pull all the wires from one side together securely with one of the leads from the centre and do the same for the other side. If you do not know how to rewire light fixtures, use a trained professional.
  • Install LED – Install the same as you would with a standard halogen T8. Ensure the bulb is tightly sealed

How do I assemble an LED tube light?

LED tube lights don’t need an assembly. Simply remove from the packaging and place in the appropriate frame. If you are replacing your fluorescent tubes, follow manufacturer instructions or hire a professional. See above for our brief step-by-step.

Are LED tube lights harmful?

LED tube lights are both safer for the environment and humans alike.

LED tube lights are A+ energy saving rating, meaning it’s better for the environment. Unlike their fluorescent counterparts, LED tubes contain no toxic chemicals that are bad for humans and the environment. Studies have 

Are LED tubes as bright as fluorescent?

Yes

LED light dedicated almost all its energy into creating light, with just a few percentages lost to heat. Fluorescent can lose up to 50% of its energy to heat production. This means that fluorescent requires a higher wattage in order to be as bright as an LED.

For example: A 24 watt LED light produces the same amount of light as a 70 watt fluorescent.

This is why the term lumens has gotten more popular - we simply cannot look at a wattages as a way to measure to brightness.

Can you buy soft light LED tubes?

We stock LED tubes with a frosted design.

Frosted designs:

  • Diffuse shadows
  • Remove glare
  • Reduces light intensity

Do LED tubes flicker?

If working properly, no.

LED tubes switch on instantly, unlike fluorescent lights which utilise a starter. So long as you have a continuous current coming from the mains, your LED tubes will not flicker. If your LED tubes does flicker, it is due to a fault in the system and will need to be investigated.

For more information:

Have a look at our printable PDF

Sours: https://www.lampshoponline.com/advice/best-led-t8-tubes-retrofit

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Plug and Play LED T8Traditionally, fluorescent T8 linear lamps have been used as the main light source in commercial buildings such as hospitals, warehouses, schools, and more. LED T8 lamps are quickly replacing their fluorescent counterparts. The LED technology provides higher efficiency, many color and lumen options, and sizes. Advancements in lighting capabilities have also led to more options for installation. When deciding on which lamps to replace your fluorescent T8s with, one of the main things to consider is the ballast type. Knowing the difference between a Plug and Play LED T8 and a Ballast Bypass T8 will make the process of switching even easier.

Type A

Ballast compatibility absolutely matters when the LED lamp you’ve chosen is of the UL Type A variety. The Plug and Play LED T8, also referred to as direct fit, is the easiest of the two types to install. This lamp works directly with the existing ballast to quickly replace the fluorescent T8. While this is the simplest installation method, the LED lamp must be compatible with the ballast of the fluorescent it is replacing in order for the new lamp to work. The makers of the LED T8 typically provide a list of compatible ballasts. Make sure to check out this list before purchasing your replacement lamps.

Type B

LED lamps classified as ballast bypass, direct wire, or UL Type B do have a more involved installation. As a result, it is best to hire an expert electrician to complete the process. The Ballast Bypass T8 does just that. The technology of these lamps works straight from the line voltage that flows through the sockets.The process of retrofitting fluorescent fixtures for this LED type entails the removal of any electrical ballasts as well as verifying non-shunted sockets are in the fixture. The initial installation costs of the lamp is made up for by getting rid of the maintenance costs the ballast would otherwise need.

Both Plug and Play LED T8 and Ballast Bypass T8 options provide as much as 40% more savings in energy use and costs when compared to fluorescent lamps. Having an understanding of how the ballasts impact your fixture, installation process, and overall maintenance can help you better choose which lighting option will work best for you.

Sours: https://www.conservationmart.com/blog/index.php/plug-and-play-led-t8-ballast-bypass-t8/
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Plug-and-play vs. ballast-bypass and other linear LED solutions

support image for Plug-and-play vs. ballast-bypass and other linear LED solutions article

If you’re looking to convert your linear fluorescent lamps to linear LED lamps, there are now more options and additional risks to consider.

Thanks to new technology and lower prices, it’s easier and more affordable to upgrade to energy-efficient linear LEDs. 

Proven, well-known traditional lamp manufacturers have lowered their pricing on LED linear lamps (like T8s). It no longer makes sense to choose products made by riskier, lesser-known lamp manufacturers that use lower pricing to attract customers. Additionally, warranties are important. You want to choose a manufacturer who will stand by its product.

Return on investments (ROIs) in less than a year becoming more common today, depending on annual burn time, kWh rates, availability of utility rebates for DLC certified products, etc.

Unlike waiting for the next cool technological gadget, or for prices to drop, there is now a cost correlating to your wait to upgrade to more energy efficient lighting – energy and labor savings that you could be enjoying every day.

Ready to shop for linear LED tubes?

Shop plug-and-play linear T8 LED tubes

Shop ballast-bypass linear T8 LED tubes

Today's T8 linear LED solutions

First, we’re going to break down four options if you’re looking to retrofit from linear fluorescent to linear LED.

1. Plug-and-play or direct fit linear LED (UL type A)

A plug-and-play, or direct fit, linear LED is probably what you're imagining – a simple, one-for-one swap out of the original linear fluorescent lamp. This lamp works directly with the existing fluorescent ballast, so there is no rewiring or ballast change required. But you do want to make sure your ballast is compatible.

Jump ahead to pros and cons.

2. Ballast-bypass, line voltage, or direct wire linear LED  (UL type B)

Bypass the ballast linear LEDs – also known as line voltage or direct-wire linear LEDs – work straight off the line voltage flowing directly to the sockets, requiring you to remove the original fluorescent ballast.

Jump ahead to pros and cons.

3. LED lamp and driver (UL type C)

This linear LED solution requires a ballast change, except instead of replacing the ballast with another ballast, you will replace it with an LED driver and your fluorescent lamps are replaced with linear LED lamps.

Jump ahead to pros and cons.

4. Hybrid or dual technology linear LED (UL type A & B)

Hybrid linear LED lamps are able to work both as a plug and play – with the existing ballast – and, once the ballast peters out, you can remove it and have the lamp run off of line voltage.

Jump ahead to pros and cons.

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Plug-and-play T8 LED pros and cons (UL type A)

Plug-and-play LED tubes (Type A) pros:

  • Simplicity for installer

    The lamp snaps into the existing fixture without any wiring modifications, meaning installation can be done by virtually anyone, as long as your existing ballast is compatible.

  • Safety

    Whenever we can shorten the time someone has to spend dangling from a ladder, things are automatically safer.

  • Lowest cost linear LED solution 

    As a simple one-for-one lamp replacement, the cost of the lamps combined with the minimal labor to install them make them the less expensive option.

  • Ballast protection

    Fluorescent ballasts are designed to control the flow of current or voltage to the sockets, by regulating the current spikes that commonly occur throughout the day.

Plug-and-play LED tubes (Type A) cons:

  • Upfront cost 

    Even with the recent price reductions for linear LEDs, they are still usually 3-5 times the price of the existing fluorescent lamps. The positive news, though, is that it is not uncommon to achieve ROIs in under a year based on energy and labor savings.

  • Ballast compatibility

    While plug-and-play linear LEDs are getting better with ballast compatibility, it's still something you should check. The best way to do this is to take a sample of your common ballasts and make sure they are listed on the manufacturer's approved compatibility list. Our goal is to make lighting easier, so we put together a list of resources where you can check ballast compatibility.

  • Continued ballast maintenance

    While LED lamps don't put the same stress on a ballast that linear fluorescents do, on-going ballast maintenance is still required. 

Shop plug-and-play linear T8 LED tubes

Ballast-bypass T8 LED tube pros and cons (UL type B)

Ballast-bypass LED tube (Type B) pros:

  • No ballast maintenance

    Removing the ballast simplifies the number of fixture components that need to be maintained.

  • Less energy used elimination of ballast draw

    An extra couple of watts is consumed when you pair an LED lamp with a ballast. Since you're bypassing the ballast, the wattage on the lamp is the wattage consumed. This is called ballast factor.

Ballast-bypass LED tube (Type B) cons:

  • Safety risk

    The most significant negative to a ballast-bypass linear LED is the risk of electric shock since the sockets carry line voltage. It's a common practice to place a finger on the lamp pins while you are trying to install it, and this becomes a risky endeavor when using single-ended . Some LED manufacturers have included safety designs to address this, but we always recommend double-ended LED tubes over single-ended for Type B systems. 

  • Fixtures must be rewired

    It can be argued this is a simple process. Disconnect the ballast from the circuit and wire the sockets to line voltage. There are several video tutorials available to demonstrate this task. Interestingly enough, most of these demos are performed with the fixture being rewired laying on a table. If you've done this before, you understand that doing this over your head while balancing on a ladder (and maybe before your morning coffee) can make things more complicated.

  • Exact wiring uncertainty

    Unfortunately, there's no industry-standard wiring schematic for ballast-bypass linear LEDs. Different manufacturers have a variety of approaches that the installer must consider. Among the 31 linear lamps tested in a DOE Caliper report, seven different wiring configurations were used. To complicate matters more, there are two common types of lamps – double-ended and single-ended. The type of lamp and the type of socket (shunted or non-shunted) will have an impact on the wiring. This type of variation among commercial products introduces a new layer of complexity, and for safety reasons we recommend using a qualified electrician.

  • Fluorescent lamp compatibility or snap-back

    We hope that once you retrofit  LED you don't decide to go back to fluorescent, but it's possible that someone could inadvertently install a linear fluorescent lamp in a ballast-bypass fixture. When the LED lamp does need replacing, if you mistakenly try to replace it with a fluorescent, the lamp may not work or could be hazardous. 

  • Title 24 requirements

    In California, there are Title 24 requirements that need to be when you retrofit existing fixtures by replacing the ballast. Please refer to the current Title 24 requirements for more details.

  • Higher initial labor costs

    The need to remove the original fluorescent ballast and rewire the line voltage to the sockets requires more labor than plug-and-play solutions that work with the existing fluorescent ballast.

  • Socket compatibility

    When bypassing the ballast, you may need to change your sockets from the most common shunted sockets to non-shunted sockets. Non-shunted sockets are required if you're using single-ended tubes. This will require a small amount of additional material cost and more labor to replace them all. In addition, some manufacturers may no longer honor the socket warranty if line voltage is direct-wired to their sockets. If you're using double-ended LED tubes, you typically do not need to change your sockets.

    One of our key partners recently came out with a product that could fix the socket compatibility problem. Sylvania's LEDlescent double-ended ballast-bypass lamps are polarity neutral. That means they work in shunted or non-shunted sockets.

Shop ballast-bypass linear T8 LED tubes

LED T8 lamp and driver pros and cons (UL Type C)

LED lamp and driver (Type C) pros:

  • Better energy savings

    LED drivers are more energy efficient than today's ballasts. The wattage of the LED lamp is all that is consumed, whereas when used with a fluorescent ballast, the energy consumed increases by about two watts per lamp on average.

  • Reduced maintenance

    LED drivers are designed to last longer than traditional fluorescent ballasts, thus reducing maintenance costs.

  • No ballast compatibility issues

    LED drivers properly paired with the right linear LED lamps eliminate any ballast compatibility issues that are often common with plug-and-play LED lamps.

  • No snap-back

    The term snap-back refers to replacing the energy efficient lamp with the older, less energy efficient technologies (in this case, linear fluorescents).  When the LED lamp needs replacing, if you try to replace with a fluorescent, the lamp will not be compatible and not function properly with the LED driver.

LED lamp and driver (Type C) cons:

  • Higher initial material costs

    Replacing both ballast with an LED driver and new LED linear lamps come with higher material costs when compared to the plug-and-play solutions. This is offset by the higher energy savings and reduced future labor costs.

  • Higher initial labor costs

    The need to replace the original fluorescent ballast with a new LED driver requires more labor than plug-and-play solutions, which work with the existing fluorescent ballast.

  • Title 24 requirements  

    In California, there are new Title 24 requirements that need to be when you retrofit existing fixtures by replacing the ballast. Most Type C systems will meet Title 24 requirements, but refer to the current Title 24 requirements for more details.

Hybrid T8 LED pros and cons

Hybrid linear LED pros:

  • Greater flexibility 

    The hybrid lamps were designed to work both with the existing fluorescent ballast and by bypassing it. You can start by using it like a plug-and-play lamp and when the ballast fails, you can direct wire it to line voltage.

  • Initial simplicity for installer

    The lamp snaps into the existing fixture without any wiring modifications meaning installation can be done by virtually anyone.

Hybrid linear LED cons:

  • Eventual safety risk

    The most significant negative to bypassing the ballast with a linear LED – once the ballast burns out – is the risk of electric shock since the sockets carry line voltage. Most hybrids system use single-ended LED tubes. It's a common practice to place a finger on the lamp pins while you are trying to install it, and this becomes a risky endeavor with .

  • Fixtures must eventually be rewired

    It can be argued that this is a simple process. Disconnect the ballast from the circuit and wire the sockets to line voltage. There are several video tutorials available to demonstrate this task. Interestingly enough, most of these demos are performed with the fixture being rewired laying on a table. If you've done this before, you understand that doing this over your head while balancing on a ladder (and maybe before your morning coffee) can make things more complicated.
  • DLC listing issues

    To be eligible for potential utility rebates, linear LED lamps usually need to be listed on the Design Lights Consortium (DLC) list of certified products. Hybrid lamps are often listed as DLC certified when used with the fluorescent but are not DLC approved when bypassing the ballast, as it is considered a fixture modification. Some manufacturers may be DLC listed for both.
  • Eventual extra labor

    Once the original fluorescent ballast dies, the need to remove it and rewire the line voltage to the sockets requires additional labor. 

  • Fluorescent lamp compatibility or snap-back

    We hope that once you retrofit to LED you don't decide to go back to fluorescent, but it's possible that someone could inadvertently install a linear fluorescent lamp in the fixture after you rewire it directly to line voltage. When the LED lamp does need replacing, if you mistakenly try to replace it with a fluorescent, the lamp will not be compatible and not function properly.

Other important things to consider when comparing linear LED solutions

1. Proper socket seating

Though the traditional fluorescent sockets have a plastic exterior, they have metal contacts on each side of the interior of the socket.  For a lamp to properly be “seated” in a socket, it needs to snap securely into place to avoid coming loose or moving, and with both of the pins on the LED lamp coming into contact with the metal contacts inside the sockets.

You also want to make sure sockets are not cracked or broken. This could cause socket seating problems. Improper socket seating is the most common cause for fire hazards or melted tubes.

If you want to ensure that you have the proper sockets for your new LED tubes, use this guide. Then, you can purchase the proper sockets (aka tombstones) here.

2. Emergency ballast compatibility

Many of the traditional emergency ballasts used with fluorescent lamps are not compatible with most of the LED linear solutions on the market today. The most common emergency ballasts that compatible with LEDs are often much more expensive the fluorescent versions. This will add to the material cost and labor to the retrofit project. Please make sure your emergency ballast is listed on the manufacturer's compatibility list.

3. Limited dimming options

Though there are currently some good dimmable LED linear options available, the choices are limited and often cost more.

Choosing the right linear LED

The first part of your linear LED decision should involve choosing a reputable manufacturer. You want to work with someone that has put their product through proper testing and will ultimately stand by it. In our experience, some of the best linear LEDs on the market include  Sylvania’s SubstiTUBE products and Philips InstantFit. We also carry products from MaxLite and TCP.

The second part of your decision is which linear LED solution is best for your application. The most common decision is ballast-bypass vs. plug-and-play. For some, the ease of installation on plug-and-play products is attractive, but for others, the simpler long-term maintenance of a direct-wire LED is valuable. Both are viable options that will save your property time and money, but we strongly recommend either plug-and-play or a double-ended ballast-bypass.

Here's why:

Your safety is extremely important.

If you choose ballast-bypass LED tubes, look for a direct-wire lamp that comes with a valid "modification" sticker to affix to the fixture and preserve its UL listing.

Finally, the LED lamp and driver option offers great long-term maintenance savings and light output, but the higher cost will extend your payback.

As you consider the variables that go into a lighting retrofit decision, remember to evaluate your priorities for the project and keep safety first.

 LED Buying Guide to find the best pricing and right specs for LED lighting products

This article has been updated to include new linear LED solutions and current recommendations. It was originally published in September 2015. 

Sours: https://insights.regencylighting.com/plug-and-play-or-ballast-bypass-linear-led
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