LED Replacement Options for T8 Lamps

a guest post by Lisa J. Reed, Lighting Designer

LED Replacement Options for T8 Lamps

There are lots and lots of existing T8 lamps out there in the world today. Look around. Most likely, there is one above your head. Offices are still almost exclusively illuminated with linear fluorescent tubes.

Now that the lighting world is solidly solid-state, what are our options for all of those existing T8 fluorescent lamps?

  1. Stay with fluorescent and use a long-life lamp
    The advent of long-life LED sources has caused a little burst of innovation in the legacy lamp world. Today you can purchase a 4’ fluorescent lamp with an average rated life of 80,000+ hours. Most LED sources are still boasting a 50,000 hour life, so sticking with a tried-and-true technology that actually lasts longer may still something to consider.
  2. Replace the lamp only – without a ballast change
    If it absolutely positively has to be LED, there are still some choices to make. One LED option that can be easily completed without an electrician is a simple lamp-for-lamp replacement. This kind of LED has the technology to operate with an existing fluorescent ballast. If you go this route, it is very important to check compatibility of the LED tube with the existing ballast. Does it work with program start and instant start? Or only with instant start? Is it compatible with the emergency ballasts on the project? Be sure to verify these questions first - before purchasing the wrong lamp for your project.
  3. Retrofit the fixture with a ballast overhaul
    The next step up is to use a retrofit kit. This will require some wiring. The ballast will be removed and replaced with an LED driver. LED tubes replace the fluorescent ones. This will be a more efficient overall system and as a “system” should operate well for years to come. This is definitely something to think about if your existing fixtures are over five years old. Ballasts need periodic replacement, so if they are nearing end of expected life, just replace them now with a complete retrofit kit. That’s a much better solution than doing lamps today and ballasts tomorrow.
  4. Replace the whole unit with a spiffy new LED fixture
    The most efficient solution of all will be installing a whole new fixture. Often the wattage of a whole new fixture can be even lower than a retrofit kit because of the optics of the lens system. Besides, for just a little more money than a retrofit kit, this gives you the opportunity to upgrade the “look” of your facility.

When it comes to T8 fluorescent replacements, there are several options to consider, and it is important to select the right one for the conditions of your project!

Lisa J Reed photo - Lighting Blog

Lisa J. Reed has been attracted to lighting (like a moth to a flame) for 20+ years. She is the Founding Principal at Envision Lighting Design, LLC in St. Louis, where she designs, teaches, and writes about architectural lighting.


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