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No, I'm not talking about traveling back into the past. I'm talking about moving onward to the future. And the "retro" is really retrofitting to LED lighting. In another article, I talked more about using LED drop-ins to replace old fluorescent troffers. And I still like that option.

Commercial and Industrial Lighting – Going Retro!

Steve Maurer, IME
No, I'm not talking about traveling back into the past. I'm talking about moving onward to the future. And the "retro" is really retrofitting to LED lighting.

In another article, I talked more about using LED drop-ins to replace old fluorescent troffers. And I still like that option.

But you can retrofit existing fixtures and luminaires.

In fact, just this morning I ordered a replacement for Mary's sewing lamp from our local home improvement store. I'm switching it from fluorescent bi-pin single tube to an LED lamp. Just a plug and play type upgrade.

Just waiting for the email telling me to go pick it up!


Now, not all retrofits are as easy as that. For example, the drop-in replacement still requires you to get into the ceiling to unwire the old and rewire the new. In old ceilings, that can get messy.

But what if you could do everything "below deck" off a ladder or mini scaffold.

You can … I've done a bunch of them.

Some retrofits take under 10 minutes, to boot!

What type of luminaire can I retrofit?
Good question … glad you asked!

Almost any type of light can be retrofitted, but the most common are fluorescent fixtures. And the possibilities are almost endless:

  • Ceiling troffers are possibly the most common
  • Strip-light fixtures in large areas like garages, shops, warehouses, and even supermarkets and discount stores
  • Almost any type of fluorescent tube lighting can be retrofitted, and that includes,
  • Outdoor signage

Even some screw-in base bulbs can be retrofitted. So, if you see a light or lamp, it's probably retrofittable.

How easy is it to retrofit a fixture?
Easier than pie! I know … I've watched my wife make a pie.

I'd rather retro a light fixture. Any day.

Now, you might get lucky. There are LED tube replacements that work with existing fluorescent ballasts. They only work with electronic ballasts; no magnetics allowed. Even then, not every electronic ballast is compatible.

Most manufacturers have compatibility charts to ensure they'll work with what you've got. Even then, there might be an issue.

If your fixture is older, that ballast has some mileage on it. I'd hate to put in new LED tubes, only to have the old ballast fail a week later.

So, is there a better way?

Do bears live in the woods?

You get everything you need with a retrofit kit
Except for wire strippers and a screwdriver, that is.

When you buy a kit, you get it all:

  • LED replacement tubes
  • The LED driver
  • Extra wiring should you need it
  • Push-style wire connectors for making connections
  • For strip-light retros, you may even get a hanger to hold the replacement while you wire away!

In many cases, you'll remove the old tubes, cut out the ballast, snip the wires off the old sockets (they can be left in place), and install the new driver and LED assembly.

If replacing fluorescent tubes with LED tubes that use the tombstones socket, you can utilize the existing sockets and connect them to the driver.

I watched a video about replacing outdoor signage tubes. In this case, a specialized LED tube was used. Because many signs are two-sided, you'll need an LED tube with LED engines on both sides. The one I viewed had a socket that rotated to ensure the LEDs were facing outward.

LEDs can save a ton of money on your electricity bill. And as you can see, the options for retrofitting them are almost endless. No doubt there will be even more as the technology develops.

So, that leaves just two questions:

  1. Are you ready to upgrade you lighting with LED retrofit kits? And,

  2. I wonder if Mary's got that pie baked yet?

Just kidding.

I know you're ready to upgrade.
Lutron Residential & Commercial Sensors
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