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LED T8 Guide

Guide to Converting Florescent T8 and T12 Tubes to LED

There are several options to choose from when converting a florescent tube to LED. Each option has pros and cons to consider.

1. Bypass the florescent ballast.
2. Use the existing florescent ballast.
3. Replace the florescent ballast with a LED transformer.

General Discussion of the Average Florescent Ceiling Troffer 

The most common office lighting is a 2'x4' recessed florescent ceiling troffer. These troffers have been designed with a variety of internal reflectors and lens covers to provide either direct or indirect light. The 2'x4' troffer typically has two, three, or four straight four foot tubes. Older light fixtures use the "fat" tubes called T12, while newer designs use a thinner tube called a T8. Internally, all florescent troffers have some type of ballast to convert the line voltage to a voltage that is compatible with the florescent tube. Troffers typically have one or two ballasts with line voltage input coming from a junction box and output wires that run to the florescent tube sockets (sometimes referred to as "tombstones" due to their shape). In a 4' length, the most common connection consists of two small pins on each end of the tube that insert into the tombstone socket and then twist a half turn to complete the electrical connection.

Pros & Cons of Different LED Conversion Methods

1. Bypass the florescent ballast    SAMSUNG LED L-TUBE

Pros: The main advantage of this approach is the elimination of the ballast.  With no ballast to fail, only failed tubes would need to be changed and that can be done by non-skilled labor.  The Samsung LED L-Tube lasts over 2.5 times longer than conventional florescent tubes.  Another advantage is energy efficiency; since a ballast uses a few watts of electricity, energy will be saved when the ballast is eliminated.
Cons: The conversion should be done by a qualified maintenance professional or electrician. This process involves removing the input and output wires from the ballast and rewiring the fixture so line voltage is correctly running to the sockets. The conversion takes about 15 minutes per troffer and is a one time conversion expense.

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2. Use the existing florescent ballast   Cree LED T8 Tubes

Pros:  Ease of installation; just replace the T-8 florescent tube with a Cree LED tube.
Cons:  Eventually the ballast will fail and need to be replaced by qualified personal.  Since a ballast is still necessary, extra energy is required for operation. The Cree LED tube can only be used to replace T-8 tubes using electronic transformers and will NOT work with a T12 magnetic style ballast.

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3. Replace the florescent ballast with a LED transformer    Cree LED Upgrade Kit

Pros: This conversion kit comes with a specialized LED transformer which is used instead of a florescent ballast and  it allows for stepped dimming to 50%.  The Cree UR series LED upgrade kit comes in a two or three bulb kit. The transformer is designed to last the life of the LED lights which are rated to last 50,000 hours and have a 7 year warranty.

Cons:   The conversion should be performed by a qualified maintenance person or electrician.  The old florescent ballast is disconnected and the new LED transformer is wired into the circuit.  Conversion time varies depending on the existing light fixture but is typically a 15 minute operation. 

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