If you have fluorescent fixtures and are eying the cost- and energy-savings of switching to LED lighting, you’ll find there are two paths you can take: convert your existing fixtures to work with LED or replace those fixtures with new LED fixtures. But within those paths are a number of options, depending on the type and location of your fixtures, your lighting goals, and your budget.
Whichever you go with in the end, you’re going to reduce both your energy use and operating costs by a significant amount. And don’t forget the other benefit of LED lighting: you’re going to enjoy a much (much) longer life span than fluorescent tubes.
- Convert your existing fixtures
If you’re currently using T8 or T12 fluorescent tubes in your fixtures, you should know that it is possible to convert those fixtures over to LED. The conversion process varies in difficulty, depending on the fixture itself.
For example, you can purchase an adapter that will allow you to plug in a 4-pin T8 LED tube into a T12 fixture. Here are some adapters to use in converting between T8 and T12 fixtures:
Your lighting goals will impact which type of adapter you need to purchase, so be sure to think about this before purchasing anything.
There are also kits available that will allow you to convert over to LED in one step. Here are some good choices:
On the other hand, if your existing fluorescent fixture has a ballast built in to the fixture, you may need to replace it with one that is compatible with LED lighting. These replacement fixtures will have a higher upfront price tag, but will ultimately save money in the long run.
- Replace your fluorescent fixtures with LED light fixtures
If you’re looking for the fastest, simplest way to make the switch to LED, replacing your fluorescent fixtures with LED light fixtures is it.
With a number of lighting fixture manufacturers now offering LED light fixtures, you have a lot of choices to make between wattages, color temperature, and design style. These are the factors that will impact which fixtures you choose:
Your lighting goals: If you’re just looking to switch out the majority of your light fixtures with LED equivalents, you can go with an 80W equivalent to replace a 100W fluorescent fixture. If, on the other hand, you want to switch out all of your light fixtures with LEDs, you’ll have to purchase fixtures in the 100W-150W range.
If you’re just looking to switch out the majority of your light fixtures with LED equivalents, you can go with an 80W equivalent to replace a 100W fluorescent fixture. If, on the other hand, you want to switch out all of your light fixtures with LEDs, you’ll have to purchase fixtures in the 100W-150W range. Your location: If your location is prone to power outages or voltage fluctuations, you should err on the side of a little more wattage.
If your location is prone to power outages or voltage fluctuations, you should err on the side of a little more wattage. Your budget: LED lights can cost significantly more up front than fluorescent tubes, but the upfront price will be worth it in the long run.
LED lights can cost significantly more up front than fluorescent tubes, but the upfront price will be worth it in the long run. The style of your building: A new LED fixture can also update the look of a space, if that is an important factor for you.
- Where to get LED fixtures for your fluorescent fixture
If you’ve decided to go with either converting your fluorescent fixtures over to LED or replacing them, the next step is figuring out where you can get LED fixtures for your fluorescent fixture.
There are a couple of different options here that will impact which fixtures you choose: first is your choice between new and used LED fixtures. The second is whether you want to purchase from a store or online retailer. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each option.
- Replace fluorescent tubes with LED tubes. You can also replace the fluorescent tubes that light your fixtures with longer-lasting, more efficient LED tubes . There are no extra components or other modifications required, and you can usually go from start to finish in about the time it takes to replace an incandescent bulb.
- Replace your fluorescent ballasts with LED electronic ballasts. You can also replace the internal “ballast” of a fluorescent fixture with an electronic LED ballasts . This route offers the biggest savings, since it will allow you to use LED tubes with your fluorescent fixtures. When replacing a ballast, you should make sure that if your fixtures have a switch between them and the power supply, that the switch is rated for at least as much wattage as the ballast. Replacing a fluorescent ballast with an electronic ballast is not for everyone, however, because it requires experience and knowledge of electrical wiring.
- Replace fluorescent sockets with LED sockets. Replacing the socket that holds your fluorescent tube or tubes can be another effective way to convert your existing fixtures. You can find LED sockets that snap into fluorescent sockets and fit flush, so they will look the same as a standard fluorescent fixture.
- Replace your fluorescent fixtures with LED fixtures. You can also replace whole fluorescent fixtures with new, dedicated LED models . This is the most expensive approach, but it can be worth it if you have very specific lighting needs or planning to use the fixtures for special purposes. Do your research ahead of time and know what you’re getting into with this option.
- Don’t forget, you can always just switch to light-emitting diode bulbs! If you have existing fluorescent fixtures but are starting fresh with new bulbs, you can convert all of your lighting to LEDs. This is the least-expensive option, but it’s also the one that will provide you with the most savings in the long run.
- Test your fixtures before buying any replacements. It doesn’t matter which approach you take, whether converting your fluorescent fixtures or replacing them, you should test your lights before buying any replacements. This is especially important if you’re replacing ballasts or sockets. You should use a volt-ohm meter to test your fixtures and make sure they’re working properly before you spend money on replacements.