As residential, commercial and industrial spaces move towards efficient and cost-effective lighting, LED lights have taken the lead. These versatile lights work for task, accent and general lighting. Whether you are lighting a retail store or giving your outdoors an aesthetic lift, they’ve got you. We will focus on what you need to know about LED tube lights before heading to the store:
How many types of LED tube lights are on the market?
Unlike other lights, which may have specific categories, LED tube lights take a different turn. Instead, manufacturers categorize them based on ballast compatibility, color temperature, and the size of the bulb. Let’s dig deeper into this.
The Tube Size
Luckily, LED tube lights come in the same shapes, sizes and looks as existing fluorescent tubes. Take the Lepro LED fluorescent replacement as an example. Installing this light will not be much different regarding aesthetics, and you still get to make major savings. These lights are made with replacement in mind. You can use them in older homes to replace energy inefficient fluorescent lights. Alternatively, you can use them in newer homes to complete the setup.
The most common sizes are the T5, T8 and T12. What’s the difference? It comes down to the diameter. A T is an eight of an inch, making a T8 bulb an inch. It’s easy to calculate how wide the lamp will be once you understand what a T is. With fluorescent tubes, smaller diameters are often preferred as they signal better energy efficiency. For example, a T5 bulb will use way less energy than a T12, whose energy consumption will be very high. They will produce the same amount of light, but the energy costs will vary. However, with a LEPRO, you do not have to worry about the T as energy efficiency is pretty much given. Even so, if you want to lower your energy costs further, you can go for a smaller T.
Please note that the tube size will also affect the lamp base or socket. For example, when mounting a T5 LED tube, you will probably need a G5 fitting. T8 and T12 tubes, on the other hand, work with G13 bases.
You will also find that manufacturers may classify LED tubes based on their installation. A type A bulb (plug and play), for example, is relatively easy to use when upgrading fluorescent light to LED. You do not have to make any changes to the fixtures, and you can use the bulb as it is. All you need to do is remove the current bulb, install the LED tube, and you are good to go. For anyone looking for a no-fuss installation process, this can work.
You also have the option to use a type B bulb, also known as a direct wire option. Be warned that the installation will not be a breeze like with a type A bulb. Instead, you need to rewire the existing system to allow it to accept new bulbs. Once you have the ballasts set, you can now focus on using LED lights solely. It may look costly at first, but it will be worth it in the long term when you no longer have to replace any of the components.
Finally, you have the option to get a hybrid bulb. It comes with the advantage of working with both existing and new systems. If you have an older system that requires reworking and want to avoid the costs, this can work. It also goes by the name type A/B and has become quite popular thanks to its versatility.
Can you retrofit LED tube lights?
Yes! In fact, this is the most typical type of LED retrofit in the market presently. It’s pretty simple when you get down to it. All you do is remove the existing fluorescent tubes and replace these with LED tubes. You can still use the existing lighting fixtures, and the costs will not be much. It’s a win-win!
As you make this conversion, please note that LED tube lights work differently from traditional lighting. First, you have to make sure you get LED lighting that can work with your existing fixtures. Most manufacturers offer tube lights that can work with most retrofit systems. However, your fixtures might not work with what’s available in the market. Secondly, the controls and dimmer switches present in traditional systems will not work with LED tube lights. You should also change these to versions that work with LED tube lights as you retrofit the systems. Of course, this depends on if you want to have these features in your new system.
While you may come across many how-to videos on retrofitting, it’s best to hire a professional to do the work for you. One wrong move could mess up your whole system. Not only might it cost more in repairs, but it can also put you in danger- not to mention legal fines!
Are LED tube lights better than fluorescent tubes?
Should you go ahead with your LED tube light purchase? Is it worth it? Most people ask these questions regarding the performance and cost-effectiveness of both options. Here is the easiest way to put this. LEDs will hands-down beat fluorescent tubes in almost every aspect.
As far as energy efficiency goes, LEDs take the win. They do not have startup delays, do not lose heat in startup and consume way less wattage than fluorescents. Your monthly utility bills on lighting should be a fraction of what they were before.
For brightness, they can both perform very well and can brighten a space in an instant. Here is where LEDs win again- they provide a similar brightness level but at less cost. In the past, people measured brightness by watts. Now, it’s clear that lumens are the way to go. An LED light with lumens of 3000K compared to a fluorescent light with the same number of lumens will consume up to a fifth of the fluorescent light’s energy costs.
Finally, there’s the cost aspect. Sure, buying an LED tube light will cost you more than a fluorescent light. However, the LED will last longer, consume less energy and incur fewer repairs. It gives you more value for money than the fluorescent tube light, which is where your focus should be.
Once you consider the type of LED tube light that suits your existing lighting fixtures, you will be well on your way to energy cost savings.