Tubular LEDs for T8 Retrofits – Should You Upgrade?

Tubular LEDs (T-LEDs) continue to be a hot topic among lighting experts. While I highly recommend LED lighting for other applications, I do not think T-LEDs should be used as retrofits for T8 lighting. I discussed this in a previous blog post.  My opinion remains: For general lighting applications, tubular LEDs cannot match the efficiency of T8 lamps, they lack reasonable ROI or sometimes any ROI, and many are not safe.

Safety is a big concern when retrofitting T8 lamps to T-LEDs. The most common tubular LEDs have internal drivers. Because of this, the existing ballast in the fluorescent fixture needs to be removed or bypassed so the T-LED can run directly on line voltage. The UL rating is no longer applicable when you remove the ballast, meaning it’s not 100% safe. And if someone were to unknowingly replace the tubular LED with a T8 lamp, it can cause significant damage!

I, Dr. Bulb, would never recommend tubular LEDs for safety purposes. NEVER convert a linear fluorescent luminaire to line voltage. The fixtures were not designed to run on 120 or 240 volts. A ballast is necessary to use the right amount of voltage. I would ONLY consider a T-LED that runs on lower voltage and requires a ballast.

Besides safety concerns, T-LEDs are rarely a cost-effective alternative. Until they are less than $10 per lamp with a low-cost ballast, they are not worth the investment. If your mind is set on upgrading to LEDs, try LED troffers for grid ceilings instead. They are safe, energy efficient and trusted brands often manufacture them.

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