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Fluorescent replacement LED tupe light connections

AnalogKid

Jun 10, 2015
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After almost exactly 50 years, the ballasts in my basement ceiling lights are beginning to fail. It looks like I've put off converting them to 4-foot LED tube lights as long as I can.

Very few available options will drop in and work with *old* magnetic ballasts with zero wiring mods. Rewiring the fixtures is simple, there is lots of room, and I've got all the toys. The question is about the feed.

There are two options for ballast bypass, single-end and double-end. I've fought my way through phone systems for both manufacturers and vendors, and ***nobody*** will take a stand on which is better. "Better" could mean more reliable, or a higher probability of turning out to be the preferred method, and more availablre in the future. It feels like a return to the VHS-vs-Beta days, except back then everyone had a strong opinion, and today no one does.

So, any y'all got experience, war stories, whatever on this topic. I'm rewiring around 40 tubes, and don't want to do it twice. Which feed method is least likely to bite me 10 years down the road?

Thanks.

ak
Bypass Wiring.gif
 

Kiwi

Jan 28, 2013
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Would it not be better to replace the whole light fitting with a complete new LED fitting, rather than replacing the tubes with LED ones?
That way you get nice modern lights, rather than old lights with LED tubes.
In ten years time you will still have old obsolete lights and there probably won't be replacement tubes available.

I know price could probably be a determining factor, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet to get the best long term solution.

Can you try to get a bulk discount from a wholesaler?
 

Bluejets

Oct 5, 2014
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Many of the fluor LED tubes will simply "drop in" with zero wiring modification.
Starter is replaced by a supplied fuse in the shape/form of the old starter and ballast and all wiring remain.
Ballast no longer has any effect on the operation as long as it still has a circuit through it.
Normally somewhere around 40ohm.
Most mods come with a sticker to be applied to the fitting, warning that it is now an LED install and NOT to fit standard fluro tube.
Last but not least, buy quality replacement parts.
Fly-by-night LED fluro supplers/installers are just that, install will last just until they are out the door.
WE had one place with over 500 fluros which was attacked by a fly-by-nighter and fittings were failing and actually blowing up.
This meant we ended up replacing whole trougher fittings with LED troughers.
Expensive exercise for the building owners as they ended up with a "double cost".
Fly-by-nighter never found, probably living it up on the Gold Coast somewhere having a good old laugh.

As Kiwi says, replace the whole shebang now otherwise just "false economy".
 
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AnalogKid

Jun 10, 2015
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Many of the fluor LED tubes will simply "drop in" with zero wiring modification.
Not for me. The vast majority that say they will work by dropping into a ballast fixture require that it be an electronic ballast. A much smaller number will work with some newer magnetic ballasts, but nothing as old as mine. The only ones I've found that are true drop-ins for me are some GE models that are relatively expensive.

ak
 

kellys_eye

Jun 25, 2010
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Not sure what size you're changing but here in the UK I've changed out 8 complete fittings (4ft, 43W) rather than mess with the tubes/bypass etc. The whole fitting only cost £14 each (about $18) against the tube alone at £13.50 it was a no-brainer!

The new fittings came with glands (and blanks if you only feed at one end), push-fit wire connectors (no disassembling or screwdrivers) and have a 'feed though' facility if you want to wire them as a chain.

At 1600lm output they are vastly brighter than the old fluorescent versions BUT there's hardly any difference in power consumption so as far as energy saving is concerned there's 'nothing' in it.
 

Bluejets

Oct 5, 2014
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The vast majority that say they will work by dropping into a ballast fixture require that it be an electronic ballast.
Nope, ones we use down under, inductive ballast no longer affects and not required at all.
One can leave it there and pass the line through it as it normally would, no problem.
As most of these are made in China, suggest you look at different supplier or do as previously suggested and bin it.

As a side note to kells_eye, the new units are usually supplied with a small switch to select light output levels, usually in 3 steps, 3000K, 4500K and 6000k. Replacement obviously the way to go.

Now before you say it, yes this is a 1.5m tube, BUT 1200,600 all the same.

Installation guide - 1.5m LED Fluro Tube
There are two main types of fluorescent light fittings in existing buildings:

1) Magnetic ballast fittings - with starters. These are the most common fitting type. Simply replace the tube and starter (supplied) and you're done! Magnetic ballast fittings are identifiable by the fact they have starters present.

T8-LED-Tube-Installation-550-2.png


Easy installation for any fitting with a starter.

2) Electronic ballast fittings - no starters. Unlike the example shown above, these fittings do not have a starter. These units will require an electrician to 'wire out' the existing ballast. See the wiring diagram in the specifications table below. Fittings without starters that come on instantly are generally electronic ballast.

Price includes replacement LED starter
Don't forget to check the packaging for the LED starter. It's easy to miss if you happen to open the package at the other end!

The LED starter is a safety fuse. It allows the LED tube to work in your existing light fittings, with no further modification.
 
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AnalogKid

Jun 10, 2015
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I did not say that LED tubes require a ballast. In fact, I said exactly the opposite. Separate from that, you misread the sentence you quoted. I know that an inductive ballast is not required. That is why I'm removing and recycling a18 of them.

In your #2, you mention hiring an electrician. First, as in post #1, I can handle this level of wiring. Second, as I said, some LED tubes will work (not must work; will work) with a ballast still in the circuit, with zero re-wiring. Remove old fluorescent tube, install new LED tube, done. Compared to all of the LED tubes on the market, these tubes are in the minority. An even smaller minority (only GE, as far as I've found) will work as a direct drop-in replacement in a fixture with a rapid-start (no starter) magnetic (non-electronic), *old* ballast. I tried them. They worked fine, but are not available in the color temperature I want.

Do you have any experience with the differences between single-end and double-end feeds? Any information about their relative long-term reliability? Any insight as to which way the market is trending in terms of one of them becoming the dominant standard?

Thanks.

ak
 

Bluejets

Oct 5, 2014
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Now you are just raving....... waste of effort .......let the moths out of the proverbial wallet ......just buy a new fitting and be done with it.

Compared to all of the LED tubes on the market, these tubes are in the minority.

Perhaps where you live but not in Aus, in fact the opposite is the case. All those mongrel tubes have been chucked out long ago.

Ask any manufacturer what the life span of their LED lights are and they will quote zillions of hours.
No idea how they know that as , even under test conditions they would never know.
As far as experience is concerned, most LED lights fail in the drivers, not the actual LED.
Driver costs more than the complete fitting, naturally as one would expect as that's the way they make it.
No one really gives a toss as it is simply a case of "chuck it", no more replacing lamps, all old hat so get used to it.
 

kellys_eye

Jun 25, 2010
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As a side note to kells_eye, the new units are usually supplied with a small switch to select light output levels, usually in 3 steps, 3000K, 4500K and 6000k. Replacement obviously the way to go.

The 'K' figures are nothing to do with light levels - these are the 'colour' temperature values (from daylight white to 'blue-white'). I don't know how they manage that as you normally have to replace the LEDs with the appropriate colour (K) versions - you can't change the colour temperature by PWM or voltage - it's a 'physical thing'.

The claimed energy saving is BS - the LED tubes I fitted consume 40W as opposed to the 43W the original tubes were rated at but if you factor in the switch-on surge that old fluorescent are usually famed for then yes, you'll save energy if they are on/off all the time.

Costs savings will also take YEARS to develop - probably NEVER if you also factor in labour charges to refit all the units. As for lifespan - who knows??? The claims are also BS as I've never, in 20 years of using LED replacements, discovered ONE that has lasted the claimed length. The worst part about them is that the light output FADES over time and it takes you a while to notice and, as mentioned, the drivers fail first (if used - some are simple rectified AC-to-DC chains of LEDs) but with component quality dropping all the time - particularly capacitors - I very much doubt any LED tube will outlast a fluorescent.
 

AnalogKid

Jun 10, 2015
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The light pans are built into an acoustic tile drop-ceiling. the problem is that the pans were installed first, then the ceiling runners were installed under them. The pans sit on the runners just like the tiles, but are not flexible. Then cannot be removed without first removing large sections of runners, literally removing the ceiling to get to them. Of course anything is possible, but in this case it is hugely impractical.

The pans themselves are well-designed, and the wiring is very easy to get to (no tools required) and modify, so the practical and easy solution is to replace the tubes and adjust the wiring to match. In bulk, the tubes are $10, or $40 per light pan New, integrated light pans start at around twice that. But even if they were free, the labor effort would be days instead of minutes: about 15 minutes to open it up, remove the internal reflector that covers the wiring channel, cut 16 wires and remove two ballasts, re-wire the socket connections (6 crimp caps), and put everything back together.

And, none of the integrated LED light pans come close to these monsters in performance. 2 feet by 4 feet, and between 8,000 and 12,000 lumens depending on the fluorescent tubes used. There are some 3000 lm LED tubes, but I have to question their long-term reliability and drop-off in efficacy. The ones I've tested are in the 1800-2200 lm range and run just barely warm. I scoped the input current on one of them, and it is surprisingly well-behaved. Yes, they really do draw just 18 W. Nothing about this project is about electrical efficiency or ROI, but it will reduce the stress on a solid-state relay circuit I designed as part of an upcoming control system. I'll control how many tubes in a pan are lit (from one to four) with only the standard single-pole wall switch and zero additional wiring.

I'm replacing the tubes because it is the only rational option. As above, the question is about the long-term consequences of each of the two wiring options.

ak
 
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