LED Lights: Should I Use Them To Replace My Fluorescent Lights?

Why not keep using fluorescent tube lamps?

LED technology is more efficient

LED replacement lamps are on average 30% more efficient than their fluorescent counterparts. That means if you are spending $10,000 on your lighting energy costs per year, your bill will be reduced by $3,000 or more, every year that you use the LED bulbs. Standard 4-foot T8 LED bulbs are available at as low as 12 watts of power consumption, while their fluorescent counterparts will start at 25 watts.

LED tubes are directional

One of the big reasons why an LED is more efficient is because it only emits light in one direction. The light emitting diodes(LEDs) are all arranged along the bottom of the lamp and send light downwards. Fluorescent lamps emit light in all directions, including up towards the ceiling where it is not needed.

Have you noticed that many LED fixture have a lower lumen output than fluorescents? That is okay and is because LEDs are directional. They only emit light in the desired direction.


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Tube LEDs last longer

Some linear fluorescent lamps are now rated to last up to 84,000 hours, while the average life of a fluorescent tube lamp is only 30,000 hours. That is over twice as long, so keep that in mind when you are calculating your purchase. The LED lamp is more expensive, but you will need to replace your fluorescent bulbs 2 or 3 times during the lifespan of an LED. Keep in mind the labor costs of replacing those fluorescent bulbs, particularly if you are lighting a large warehouse.

LED tubes are easily dimmable

The ability to dim your lights increases their efficiency, because you will only be using the wattage necessary for the amount of light that you require. Most fluorescent lights have two settings, ON and OFF. That means that even if you only need a little bit of light, you still need to operate at full power consumption. Some expensive fluorescent bulbs are dimmable with a special ballast, but at that point your cost is comparable to an LED option.

LEDs contain no mercury

One of the downfalls of fluorescent lighting is that each bulb contains mercury, which is harmful to the environment and must be disposed of properly. You can purchase special recycling kits to dispose of your fluorescent lamps properly, but add that to the cost of opting for fluorescent lighting over LED.

Various Color Temperatures

It used to be that LED bulbs were only available in cool color temperatures of 5000K and higher. That is not the case any more, as LED bulbs are available between very warm(2700K) to extremely cool(5700K). Now you can use LED tube lamps in all sorts of applications from healthcare where you might want a cool color temperature, to your home where you might prefer a low and warm color temperature.


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LED tube lamps are more durable

Have you ever picked up a fluorescent lamp that dropped on the ground? If you did it was probably with a broom and dust pan. Fluorescent tube lamps are notoriously fragile, and their LED counterparts are just the opposite. They are built with a durable plastic housing that should even be able to withstand a drop from a low height.

Your air conditioning bill may go down as well

Fluorescent lights put off a significant amount of heat. Your air conditioner will be battling that all day to keep your environment at an acceptable temperature. LEDs on the other hand put off virtually no heat. Beyond just the energy consumption of the bulbs, LEDs will help cut on your air conditioning energy consumption.

LED tubes work well with occupancy sensors

A great way to improve efficiency in your warehouse or other space is to install occupancy sensors. This ensures that light will only be produced in areas where someone is present. Unfortunately, this can have a big impact on the life of your fluorescent lights. Each time you turn on a fluorescent bulb, a small amount of a mercury vapor is burned off. Once that is diminished, the bulb will no longer work. On the other hand, the life of an LED bulb is not affected by the number of times it is turned on and off.

Installation is just as easy

Many LED tubes are "plug and play", meaning you can just install them like you would a fluorescent bulb. For this to be true, look for bulbs that are "ballast-compatible" meaning that they can use the ballast already installed in your fluorescent fixture to power the LEDs.

How to Buy LED Fluorescent Replacement Tubes

Fluorescent light fixtures have a lot going for them. They produce a lot of light, they don't cost a lot to operate, and the fluorescent tubes last a really long time. As great as they are, however, these fixtures just aren't suitable for every room in the home. Sometimes, you want a light fixture with a little more pizzazz, or one that produces light that's a little warmer than the cold, bright light that's so common with fluorescent fixtures. Swapping out a fluorescent fixture with a LED light, led light is easy to do.

Choosing a Replacement LED Light Fixture

Many older fluorescent light fixtures offer little in the way of design aesthetic, so replacing them with regular light fixtures will open up a world of creative choices for your room. Replacement choices include pendant lighting, flush-mount ceiling fixtures, track lighting, monorail lighting, potrack lighting and more. You can even skip the ceiling-mounted light and instead install a couple of wall sconces.

Determining Your Lighting Needs

The light fixture you choose depends not only on your sense of style and the room's decor, but also on your lighting needs. Determine whether you need directional lighting or are more interested in accent lighting. You should also consider the function of the room where the new light fixture is being installed. For instance, if you are replacing a fluorescent fixture in a bathroom, then you want to make sure you choose a new fixture that's capable of producing enough light for applying makeup and/or shaving.


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Some fluorescent light fixtures are very large and if the ceiling was painted since the light was installed, you have some ceiling repair work to do before you can install your new light fixture. You have to scrape away the paint edge that built up along the outer edge of the fluorescent fixture and smooth out the ceiling with joint compound. Once the ceiling is smooth, apply a fresh coat of paint to blend it together.To replace a fluorescent fixture with a chandelier-type of fixture or a ceiling fan, you have to make sure that the ceiling junction box is secured to the ceiling joists so it can support the weight of the new fixture or fan.

Lighting Alternatives

Replacing a fluorescent fixture with a LED light doesn't mean that you have to forego the energy-savings allotted by your old fluorescent fixture. Today's compact fluorescent bulbs offer all of the benefits of fluorescent tubes, like low-energy use and long-lasting light, in the form of a bulb that fits in a standard socket. This allows you to enjoy the best parts of using fluorescent lighting with the design flexibility offered by standard lighting fixtures.


Before you replace a fluorescent lighting fixture with led one, you should always turn off the circuit's power by turning off the appropriate circuit breaker in your electrical panel. Always test the circuit with a non-contact voltage tester prior to starting the job to reduce the risk of injury. Place a sign on the electrical panel notifying everyone who sees it that you are working on the electric and to leave the breakers alone.

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