Article
If you've been reading this newsletter for a while, you've probably concluded that I'm a big proponent of LED lighting. But, if you haven't been … I am. Almost an attic fan … I mean … fanatic.

LED Retrofit Options – Part One, Fluorescent Tubes

Steve Maurer, IME
If you've been reading this newsletter for a while, you've probably concluded that I'm a big proponent of LED lighting. But, if you haven't been …

I am. Almost an attic fan … I mean … fanatic.

When they first came out, incandescent replacements were quite expensive. But as with most new technology, the price tag decreased over time. And a few years ago, I started switching out my house to LED bulbs (about 85-90% done now).

Most mogul-base LED lamps can be just screwed into the lamp socket with no additional retrofitting. It's important to know that not all LED bulbs are dimmable. Most are now, but for those that aren't, compatibility with dimmer switches can be problematic at best.

I'm actually going through my "old" LED lamps and replacing them with smart bulbs. This allows me to enable voice control and app control to turn my lights on or off, dim them, even change color temperature.

On my way out the door, I just say goodnight to my smart device, and all the lights in the house go out. Not sayin' I'm lazy … just sayin'.

When we were kids, my brother and I had a bad habit of leaving all the lights on as we trekked through the house. And Dad had the task of shutting them all off behind us.

Dad would've loved smart bulbs.

Fluorescent retrofits are different, though
When it comes to fluorescent tubes, however, it's not as easy as unscrewing one bulb and screwing in another. It can be, well, complicated.

To start with, you have 4 different UL classifications of LED replacement tubes:

  • Type A linear LED tubes
  • Type B linear LED tubes
  • Type C Linear LED tubes
  • And Type A/B tubes

Type A lamps are direct replacements. You just take out the old tubes and stick in the new ones.

Most of the time.

However, many will not work with old magnetic ballasts. And some are very picky with the brand or style of electronic ballasts they're compatible with. This is the case I've run up against for the last three years.

Because the company I'm retrofitting fixtures for has specified a particular brand, I need to replace all the magnetics and install a rapid start electronic ballast. The lamp manufacturer has a compatibility chart to follow.

It's a good idea to follow the chart.

Type B tubes actually bypass the existing ballast. They do that by including drivers in the lamp ends. You drop out the ballast, wire supply power directly to the tombstone sockets, and install the bulbs.

It's quick and easy, for the most part, but there have been issues with them shorting out and causing fires. Not good.

The third classification, Type C, involves removing the ballast and replacing it with a driver pack. The pack is connected to building power, but the lamp sockets wire to low voltage connections on the driver.

In reality, this is the only real LED tube system since LEDs work on low voltage.

Type A/B tubes are kind of a hybrid lamp. They'll work with compatible fluorescent ballasts, or can be used as a bypass type, removing the ballast and wiring sockets directly to building power. I've not had much experience with this type, so consult any documentation the manufacturer supplies before installing them.

That's always a good idea in any case.

In another article, we'll discuss a different type of retrofit that removes all the tubes from the fixture.

It's quite an interesting concept, in fact.
We make it EASY!
advertisement
Vive Wireless: Work Smarter, Not Harder
advertisement
Newsletter Signup