9 Reasons the LED Alternative to Fluorescent Tube Lighting Wins

9 Reasons the LED Alternative to Fluorescent Tube Lighting Wins

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In most offices, hallways, and other lower level and flat ceiling environments you will find some sort of tube lighting in place. The most common technology that is found to be used is currently fluorescent, but after this post that might slowly change for some because this alternatives to fluorescent office lighting and all of those other uses listed above is going to change your mind on which technology is the truly efficient one.

The following 9 reasons show loud and clear why the LED alternative to fluorescent tube lighting is the clear winner when it comes to lifespan, safety, and more. Let's start off with the first reasons shall we?
Fluorescent Tubes

1. Fluorescent tubes contain mercury, LED doesn't

Although it is completely harmless while in the tube itself, accidents always happen. When a fluorescent tube is broken, a small amount of mercury can be released into the surrounding area. The bigger issue comes when people think about avoiding and cleaning up the mercury over the glass, but in reality the glass poses the biggest threat. It's recommended to air out the area as soon as possible, along with cleaning up the glass without anything that will make it airborne (like a vacuum). With a LED fluorescent tube alternative, you will skip this issue entirely because LED technology does not require any sort of mercury to work!  

2. LED is optimal for cold or hot and room temperatures

While LED technology is pretty much good to go in a greater range of temperatures, fluorescent lamps only works at it's peak performance when it is in room temperature type environments. So LED technology is much more flexible in which temperatures it can operate properly at, fluorescent are only suitable for inside only applications. But even then, LED still wins for all of these other reasons listed on this post! And a thing to remember is that fluorescent technology isn't better than LED is indoors, it's just that it only works optimally at room temperatures. But when you replace fluorescent light with LED, you still get all the benefits that LED brings and they aren't picky about the temperature at all.  

3. LED technology is easily dimmable

Keyword there is easily. Some fluorescent lights are dimmable, but not all are. And when they are, they typically aren't as efficient nor as cheap as dimming a tube lamp (LED) would be. So if you are in need of dimming capabilities (for whatever reason) and want to do so efficiently, LED technology is probably the easier and more hassle-free option to choose for dimming capabilities. This allows you to get a LED fluorescent tube replacement installation done and enjoy the benefits of dimming your lights as much as you need, when needed.   

4. LED is directional light (unlike fluorescent)

When you hear the words non-directional, what exactly does that mean to you? Well, in the world of lighting it basically means that such fixture emits lights 360 degrees (or in all directions). This causes 30-40% of all the light being emitted by a fluorescent tube to be wasted due to the trait it carries of non-directional emission of light. With LED, it has directional lighting which allows you to direct the light where it needs to go and isn't going to waste being emitted 360 degrees.  
Omni-Directional vs Direct Lighting with LED

5. LED conversions are at least 30% more efficient

Let alone all of the other benefits that a LED conversion for fluorescent tubes will bring that are listed here, what about the direct savings that you will realize just by switching over to LED from fluorescent? Depending on the fluorescent products you had installed before and which LED products you are replacing them with will depend on the amount of energy you save. But on average, you will realize a staggering 30% reduction in energy usage associated with your tubes. This allows you to even see a return on investment when you start looking at what an LED vs a fluorescent tube will save you in the long run.  

6. LED emit less heat

In regards to property owners and facility managers, they tend to be in favor of the technology that doesn't emit immense amounts of heat. With fluorescent which do emit considerably more heat that LEDs, you are now opening yourself up to a new issue to resolve. In the hotter months when air conditioning is running in the building, having tubes that emit heat will just add to the cost of cooling down a building. This can get especially pricey when your building is larger and requires much more energy to cool it down throughout the day.  

7. LED alternatives last much longer

While you can do things to keep a fluorescent tube alive longer (look at #8), LEDs still win. With an average lifespan of 15,000 hours, fluorescent dies out 3-4 times faster than an LED does. With LEDs average lifespan of 50,000 hours, this means that you will need to replace a fluorescent tube 3-4 times more than an LED equivalent. Do you know the costs associated with switching out a burnt out tube? It can add up especially in larger buildings, and thus this is yet another way a switch to LED from fluorescent tubing can bring your building great cost reductions related to your lighting maintenance costs. On top of that, you will need to buy 3-4 times more fluorescent tubes which will, in the long run, cost more than one LED would of cost. So if you do replace fluorescent with LED, you will be able to realize yet another benefit of LED technology; longer lifespan by 3-4 times!  

8. Frequent switching of fluorescent lights causes early failure

As mentioned in #7, a way to extend the life of a fluorescent luminaire is by not switching them off frequently. They are best to be turned on once for the day, and then one time off for the day. If you demand a technology that allows for frequent switching of on and off throughout the day and don't want to reduce the lifespan of the light source, the fluorescent tube alternative (or LED) will be the best option. They do not reduce in lifespan no matter how many times they are turned on or off.  

9. Buzzing and flickering... no longer with LED

Last but definitely not least, LEDs will never buzz or flicker, not even near the end of their lifespan! This buzzing and flickering that fluorescent lamps are susceptible to can reduce productivity and increase stress; all of which are no good for the workplace environment. This can prove to be devastating to your businesses work output, which can even indirectly effect your bottom line. Time = money, and by being stressed and distracted by flickering or buzzing ceiling lights, you will be losing money and not even know why. Now you know, if you have flickering or buzzing lights get rid of them as soon as possible!  

Choosing the Best LED Replacement Tube Lights for T8, T10 and T12 Fluorescent Lamps

T8, T10 and T12 fluorescent tubes are used in different commercial spaces, but they are not energy-efficient. They have a tendency to flicker & hum, contain mercury, have a short lamp life and a poor color quality, and their light cannot be fully dimmed.

LED tubes make perfect replacements for these lamps as they have long lifespans, better color quality, do not contain harmful components, and their light can be fully dimmed. But when it comes to LED tube lights, there are so many products on the market it can be hard to choose the best replacements for fluorescent tubes.

A Little about LED Replacement Tube Lights

In 2007, Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act. The act put in place strict energy standards that ushered in a new age of more efficient, long-lasting, and environmentally-friendly lighting technologies. The purpose of this law was to eradicate inefficient and outdated lighting systems.

The 2007 act is partially responsible for the high consumer demand for high-quality LED replacement products. Electrical contractors, facility managers, and property owners know that a time will come when buildings will no longer be able to use outdated lighting technologies – because new energy laws are passed as environmental pollution rises.

Another important reason for converting to LED is because T8 ballast technology is being phased out. Many people are looking for LED products they can use with their existing fluorescent fixtures without having to pay a lot of money for new fixtures. LED replacement tube lights make perfect substitutes for fluorescent tubes (T5, T8, T10, and T12).

The first replacement tubes were introduced to the market back in 2007. However, they didn't generate a lot of light and didn't have safety certifications (which were almost non-existent back then). But today, LED replacement tube lights are the best there are. They are more efficient than fluorescent lamps and just as efficient as new LED tube lights. The good news is they are not as expensive as they were in the beginning and have a payback period of 1 year or less.

But as we mentioned earlier, there are many LED replacement tubes on the market – and a variety of installation techniques. This is why you have to find the best replacement option for your application.


How to Pick the Best LED Replacement Tubes for Your Location

The most crucial step in selecting the right LED replacement option is picking the installation technique of your preference. The installation technique will depend on the type of fluorescent lamps you currently have – whether T12 or T8.

To know the type of fluorescent tubes currently installed in your commercial space, simply remove the tubes from the fixtures and check the wording at the edge. It will indicate whether the lamp is a T12 or a T8 and will also give you more information about the bulb.

If there are no markings or wordings to let you know the type of fluorescent lamps you have, simply check the diameter of the tubes and you'll be able to know.

T12 tubes usually have a diameter of 1.5 inches while T8 tubes have a diameter of 1 inch. After you have established the type of fluorescent lamps installed in your space, the next thing you have to do is check the ballasts. Generally, T12 tubes use magnetic ballasts while T8 tubes use electronic ballasts. You can also open the light fixtures to examine the ballasts. Always remember, the older the fluorescent tube, the higher its chances of having a magnetic ballast.

Now that we have shown you how to check the types of fluorescent lamps and ballasts installed in your commercial space, let us talk about the different replacement options.


The 4 Types of LED Replacement Tubes

There's no better time than now to get rid of problematic fluorescent tubes and replace them with LEDs which have so much to offer. But there's always controversy when it comes to LED replacement tubes.

Some lighting experts prefer hybrid replacement tubes, others prefer universal replacement tubes, while others use ballast bypass tube lights. To be completely honest, each of these LED tube lights has its benefits.

Let's discuss each of the 4 LED replacement options and their installation techniques to help you make the right decision.

1.  Ballast Bypass LED Fluorescent Replacement Tube Lights

A ballast bypass tube light is also called a direct wire tube light and is one of the oldest LED tubes, but also the least expensive. When this tube first appeared on the market, it was quite expensive and did not have UL or ETL approval. It also didn't have DLC or LM79 certifications, which is why most business owners and facility managers didn't hop on the LED bandwagon earlier on. But today's ballast bypass LED tubes have all the important certifications for commercial installations: UL, DLC, FCC, LM79, LM80, CE, and RoHS.

Because of the danger of working with line voltage, safety organizations like UL have set standards to make sure ballast bypass LED tubes are safely installed. What an electrician does when installing this type of LED tube is bypass the ballast entirely, sending the electricity directly to the LED driver instead of constructing expensive circuitry to enable the LED to work with a ballast. For safety purposes, the line voltage input has to be installed on one section of the tube (for most tubes in this class).

The sockets have to be for a T12 or must be non-shunted rapid start sockets. If you’ve got T12 fixtures, you don't have to change anything as you have the required hardware. But if you have T8 fixtures, their input side sockets must be converted to T12 sockets (non-shunted rapid start sockets). This is because T8 sockets have circular conductors that prevent them from separating the line and the neutral sections of a circuit.

While ballast bypass LED replacement tubes have complicated installation requirements, their biggest advantage is that they have the lowest unit cost among all the replacement options – which can result in a lot of savings especially in projects where saving money is important. You never have to worry about replacing ballasts and also save on labor and maintenance costs.

2. Electronic Ballast Compatible LED Replacement Tubes

These are relatively new in the market and work with electronic ballasts (for T8 fluorescent). They do not work with magnetic ballasts or work without ballasts. These fluorescent replacement tube lights are growing in popularity by the day as industry data shows that there are more than 1.2 billion units on the market.

One of their biggest benefits is that they are very easy to install, the electrician simply swaps the old fluorescent tubes with the LED tubes. But because there are so many electronic ballast compatible LED replacement tubes, most manufacturers have extensive lists showing the ballasts their LED tube lights work with.

It is worth noting that these LED tubes have high upfront costs per unit. Additionally, if the ballasts they work with malfunction, they won’t be able to produce light. On the upside, they are extremely easy to install and there is no downtime during installation.

3.  Hybrid LED Replacement Tube Lights

Some LED manufacturers make LED replacement tubes that work with electronic ballasts or can bypass the ballasts if they stop working. These types of LED replacement tubes are called hybrid replacement tube lights.

They work well with T8 electronic ballasts but they can also be wired like ballast bypass tube lights if the ballasts cease to function – or if they are installed in a facility with T12 and T8 fluorescent tubes that call for both wiring methods.

Hybrid replacement tube lights can be used in both T8 and T12 light fixtures and significantly lower the time spent on installation.

4.  Universal Ballast Compatible LED Replacement Tubes

These might be the most expensive LED replacement tubes for fluorescent, but they are also the most easy to install. The best thing about them is that they work with any type of fluorescent technology – whether it’s T8 which uses electronic ballasts or T12 which uses magnetic ballasts.

The installation process is simple, all an electrician does is remove the fluorescent tube and put the LED tube in its place. These lights are perfect for smaller facilities whose main objective is to lower energy usage or facilities that want no downtime during installation – as this may affect their bottom line.

The biggest downside of hybrid and universal LED replacement tube lights is their high upfront costs. And since the ballasts are not removed during installation, they will require a lot of maintenance. Getting new ballasts may be out of the question in some instances as T12 magnetic installations don’t work with new ballasts.

Talk to Us, We Understand LED Fluorescent Replacement Tube Lights

By writing this article, we hope we have played a vital role in helping you to select the best LED fluorescent replacement solution for your facility. We have the best assortment of all the 4 LED options we’ve discussed here so don’t hesitate to talk to us if you have any inquiries. We’ll ensure you have an easy time upgrading to LED technology.

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