Author Topic: Source for a definitive guide to retrofitting with T8 LED tube lights?  (Read 967 times)

BaconJam

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Howdy all you frugal DIY'ers! Apologies if this topic has been covered, I was unable to find answers when searching the forum.

I've been searching for a clear answer on swapping my old 4' fluorescent T8 light bulbs with LEDs. This post on the forum gave some solid info:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/do-it-yourself-forum!/t8-led-light-tubes-not-working-what-is-wrong/msg1585189/#msg1585189

Can any electricians or data driven folks weigh in on just how much extra power the ballast would be burning if I used something like the Phillips InstantFit tubes http://www.usa.lighting.philips.com/products/product-highlights/instantfit without removing ballasts? Since we're in the MMM forum, I'm hoping to find someone that may have measured the electricity consumption after retrofitting some old fluorescent light fixtures. Always looking to lower that utility bill! It's obvious that switching to LED's will have a substantial ROI, just wondering if anyone has solid data on the benefit of buying the appropriate LED bulbs and taking the time to re-wire and remove ballasts. I only have 3 fixtures (six bulbs) in my new place to deal with, so in case the ballasts die later on and require removal I might as well just tackle this project now.

Video for removing the ballasts:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRZdN5KtG8k

The fixtures I'm working with have the following specs, found on the manufacturer's website:
http://www.axislighting.com/cmsAdmin/uploads/TBW.SPEC.pdf

Ballast : Electronic IS, Electronic Rapid Start, Dimming (0-10V, Line, EcoSystem, DALI), BI-level dimming
Voltage : 120V, 277V, 347V, UNV

Also looking for a clear answer on whether I'll need dual or single ended LED tubes, and whether I can determine if the tombstones are  shunted or non-shunted without taking the light fixture apart.

Thanks in advance for any insight, hoping this can help many future Mustachians to slash their utility bills!

lthenderson

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1057
Re: Source for a definitive guide to retrofitting with T8 LED tube lights?
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2018, 07:44:55 AM »
I've always found it much cheaper to just replace the entire fixture with one that uses ordinary (and much cheaper) LED bulbs than converting a T8 fluorescent fixture and buying those replacement LED bulbs.

ncornilsen

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 809
Re: Source for a definitive guide to retrofitting with T8 LED tube lights?
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2018, 08:21:27 AM »
At work, we decided to leave the ballasts. Then again, I pay $80/hr for electricians, and I can pay $35 an hour for a generic helper to swap tubes. Eliminating the ballast creates a hazard if someone were to put a t8 bulb in the fixture, as a t8 bulb might explode if it's connected directly to AC power.


Alternatepriorities

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 148
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Alaska
  • Engineer, explorer, investor, blogger
    • Alternate Priorities
Re: Source for a definitive guide to retrofitting with T8 LED tube lights?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2018, 08:46:36 AM »
I have removed the ballast in all the conversions I have done. It definitely takes a more time, but it does save some power and it eliminates one possible point of failure. Unfortunately, how much power is saved is not a simple answer because it will vary with ballast factor and the tubes you are installing. It's also changing all the time. When I did my first conversions removing the ballast was the only option.

A quick look at the current specs the Phillips InstantFit as an example:

With ballast:
http://images.philips.com/is/content/PhilipsConsumer/PDFDownloads/United%20States/ODLI20160715_001_UPD_en_US_PLt-1309BN_LED%20T8_Web_682016.pdf

Without ballast:
http://images.philips.com/is/content/PhilipsConsumer/PDFDownloads/United%20States/ODLI20170921_001_UPD_en_US_PLt-17067BN-InstantFit-Type-B.pdf

Looking at the dimmable lights with normal ballast factor you'll get 2100 lumens for 18 watts vs without a ballast you can get up to 2100 lumens for 17 watts but the lights are not dimmable. When I was paying 67 cents a kWh for electricity that watt mattered more. Most places it's probably not a major factor. It looks like your fixtures are dimmable. Are they installed with dimming switches?

If you go with the ballast lights you don't need to worry about single ended vs double ended. If you remove the ballast you get into questions of shunted vs non shunted tombstones which I believe was addressed in the other thread. I don't think there is a way to know without opening the trover and checking the tombstones.

I attached a "lab report" I wrote in 2013 after skeptically testing a retrofit of T12 tubes. It's a bit laughable now.


BaconJam

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Source for a definitive guide to retrofitting with T8 LED tube lights?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2018, 01:03:32 PM »
At work, we decided to leave the ballasts. Then again, I pay $80/hr for electricians, and I can pay $35 an hour for a generic helper to swap tubes. Eliminating the ballast creates a hazard if someone were to put a t8 bulb in the fixture, as a t8 bulb might explode if it's connected directly to AC power.

Since I'm the only one in this small home that would be replacing the bulbs, I'll make sure to avoid any fluorescent explosions should the LED's need to be replaced someday. And for the next homeowner, I'll make some very conspicuous signage inside all 3 fixtures so this doesn't happen in the future. That's if I ever get around to removing the ballasts. Thanks for the input!

BaconJam

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Source for a definitive guide to retrofitting with T8 LED tube lights?
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2018, 01:14:40 PM »
I have removed the ballast in all the conversions I have done. It definitely takes a more time, but it does save some power and it eliminates one possible point of failure. Unfortunately, how much power is saved is not a simple answer because it will vary with ballast factor and the tubes you are installing. It's also changing all the time. When I did my first conversions removing the ballast was the only option.

A quick look at the current specs the Phillips InstantFit as an example:

With ballast:
http://images.philips.com/is/content/PhilipsConsumer/PDFDownloads/United%20States/ODLI20160715_001_UPD_en_US_PLt-1309BN_LED%20T8_Web_682016.pdf

I'll double check the spec sheets to confirm that my ballast will be compatible.

Are they installed with dimming switches?
No.

If you go with the ballast lights you don't need to worry about single ended vs double ended. If you remove the ballast you get into questions of shunted vs non shunted tombstones which I believe was addressed in the other thread. I don't think there is a way to know without opening the trover and checking the tombstones.

I'm leaning towards keeping the ballasts in place. Perhaps I'll pick up a energy meter in the future and run some tests and compile data points when the first ballast fails and I'm forced to remove them. Then we'll have a truly definitive guide to saving $ with LED T8 bulbs!

I attached a "lab report" I wrote in 2013 after skeptically testing a retrofit of T12 tubes. It's a bit laughable now.

Thanks for the lab report, always helpful to have more insight!

I've attached pics of the tombstones and ballast. Looks like the "instant" ballast should be compatible. I won't know about the shunted vs. non-shunted until I open up the tombstone, which I won't be doing anytime soon. I tried to pry them apart gently - but postponed this investigation for fear of breaking the small plastic parts.

Alternatepriorities

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 148
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Alaska
  • Engineer, explorer, investor, blogger
    • Alternate Priorities
Re: Source for a definitive guide to retrofitting with T8 LED tube lights?
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2018, 09:14:13 PM »
It's been interesting looking into replacement LED tubes again. I replaced a couple hundred T8 tubes between 2013 and 2016 for myself as well as several friends. But I haven't needed to replace any of them since. At this point I think it's probably worth just replacing them with ballast in place. I found 10 packs of the InstantFit on Amazon for $55. Unless your electricity is really expensive saving 1 watt an hour probably isn't worth it. That's only 8.7 kWh a year if you run them 24/7.

One thing to consider before you buy is the color. Personally I like 5000k in work spaces like the garage, kitchen, or office and 4000k pretty much everywhere else. Your florescent lights should have a color rating on them if you like the color you have.

anonymouscow

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 85
Re: Source for a definitive guide to retrofitting with T8 LED tube lights?
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2018, 09:48:18 AM »
I changed two fixtures last year from florescent to LED. I followed the Youtube video in the first post. I would think you would want to remove the ballast and direct wire them. It's not too difficult if you just go step by step. The lights come with stickers to warn people that the fixture has been converted to LED. I didn't look into the cost of replacing the whole fixture vs converting them.