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LED T8 Fluorescent Replacement


Direct Wire LED T8 Tubes

These lamps are also called Ballast-bypass LED T8 tubes and, as implied by their name, they operate without an external ballast because each tube has an integrated driver. In new constructions, there is no need to purchase ballast at all if you use these tubes right from the start. On the other hand, if these tubes are used to retrofit an existing installation, it is necessary to rewire all fixtures accordingly and bypass the existing ballasts.

Other than being ballast-free, there is one key difference between these lamps and the T8 tubes they replace:

  • Fluorescent T8 tubes are connected to one positive base and one negative base. These means that, even though the lamp has two pins on each side, both pins of a given side have the same polarity.

  • LED T8 tubes use bases that have both a live and a neutral contact, and therefore they must NOT be shunted. In these lamps, the pins of a given side have opposing polarities. Some LED T8 tubes receive a power supply from both lampholder bases, while others only use one for supply and the other is merely for physical support. If one of these tubes does not light on when connected, check if you are not connecting the power supply base to the end of the tube that is only for support.

The following are some examples of ballast-bypassing LED T8 tubes:

Direct Wire LED T8 tubes are the best choice in a new construction, because it becomes completely unnecessary to purchase and install ballasts.


Plug and Play LED T8 Tubes

These lamps are designed to work with the same ballasts and connections as the fluorescent lamps they replace, which means the retrofit is as simple as removing the existing T8 tubes and installing the upgrade lamps. It is not necessary to rewire the luminaire internally.

The lighting retrofit can be carried out much more quickly if these tubes are used. There are only two drawbacks:

  • There is a slight drop in efficiency from leaving the ballast in operation, although it is not drastic. The lower installation cost of direct replacement LED tubes makes up for the slight efficiency loss.
  • Not all ballast and T8 tube combinations are compatible. Before placing a large order for LED tubes, make sure they are compatible with your current ballasts.

The following are some example of Plug and Play LED T8 tubes:


Plug and Play LED T8 tubes are generally the most cost-effective option for retrofits, because they allow considerable time and labor savings: the upgrade is a simple plug-and-play procedure. If your ballasts are very old and incompatible, however, you should go for ballast-bypass LED tubes and completely avoid the purchase of new ballasts.