Energy

How to Wire Led Tube Lights without Ballast

How to Wire Led Tube Lights

In a world where money is always scarce, avenues to make savings, however little, can make a huge difference. One way to do that is to convert your linear fluorescent lamps to linear LED lights.

New technology coupled with lower prices has made it effortless and more affordable to upgrade to Linear LED, which is more energy-efficient. Many options are available, each of which has its pros and cons.

The good news is that the popular and accredited traditional manufacturers have reduced their linear LED lights, such as the T8 LED bulb.

T8 LED Bulb installation options 

There are four options to consider if you must convert your let tube lights. Knowing those options can help you choose the best way to go about it.

Option 1: Direct Fit Linear LED Also Called Plug-And-Play (UL-Type A)

This describes a simple swap of one component for another. Thus you will swap out the original linear fluorescent with the new LED bulb. But the upgrade lamp needs the fluorescent ballast to work.

Therefore, no ballast change or rewiring is necessary. However, the existing balance must be compatible with the incoming linear LED.

Doing it this way has many pros and cons.

Pros

  • Easy and simple to install
  • Safe installation process
  • Highly affordable LED option (in the long run)
  • Works with ballast for protection

Cons 

  • Installation cost is 3-5 times higher compared to the existing fluorescent lamps. However, the return on investment happens within a year or so of installation.
  • Ballast compatibility can be a challenge, although plug-and-play LEDs are becoming better each day. You can also check compatibility with the manufacturer of the LED before you make an order.
  • Ballast maintenance is a continuous process, although to a lower extent compared to traditional fluorescent lamps.

Option 2: Direct Wire, Ballast-Bypass, Line Voltage Linear LED (UL Type B)

This method of upgrade works straight off the line voltage that flows directly to the sockets. It means you will have to remove the original fluorescent ballast.

Similar to UL Type A, there are advantages and disadvantages associated with this option. The first advantage is that you do not need to maintain ballast. In other words, you will have to remove the ballast, which eliminates any costs and difficulties associated with maintenance.

Some additional energy is consumed when you pair the LED lamp with ballast. So, you will save some energy by bypassing the ballast. The wattage saved is called the ballast factor.

The most troublesome negative thing about UL Type B is the risk of electrocution during installation. This happens because the sockets carry line voltage. As a result, you cannot avoid placing a finger on the pins when installing the T8 LED bulb.

There is a potential risk, especially when using a one-sided ballast-bypass lamp. Nevertheless, some manufacturers have tried to address the problem. But double-ended LEDs are better than single-ended models.

Other disadvantages include the fact that the fixture must be rewired. The same wiring can be uncertain. There is also a higher initial labor cost. Then you have several jurisdictional laws to deal with.

Regardless of these disadvantages, Lepro, one of the most reputable manufactures of linear LED lamps, especially T8 bulbs, recommends the UL Type B. These bulbs are ideal, especially for innovations and new constructions.

Option 3: LED Lamp and Driver (the UL Type C)

The third option of converting your fluorescent tube lamp is installing an LED light and an external driver. The process requires a ballast change, not with a compatible one but with an external LED driver. You will replace the fluorescent lamps with your linear LED of choice.

The advantages include improved energy conservation, minimal maintenance, no blast compatibility problems, and no snapback.

The disadvantages worth mentioning include:

  • Higher maintenance cost.
  • The higher initial cost of labor.
  • Difficulty in complying with Title 24 requirements.

Once installed, however, it delivers a good return on investment.

Option 4: Dual Technology or Hybrid Linear LED (UL Type A&B)

As the name sounds, these T8 LED lamps can work both as plug-and-play (utilizing your existing ballast) and as ballast bypass. It means you plug-and-play with the current ballast until it peters out. You can then remove it and let the lamp operate off-line voltage.

The benefits of a hybrid LED lamp include greater flexibility compared to the other wiring options. Furthermore, there is initial simplicity in the process of installation. The new light simply snaps into your existing fixture. No wiring modifications are necessary, and therefore anyone can do install it.  

In terms of disadvantages, the hybrid linear LEDs can become dangerous once the ballast has petered. There is an increased risk of getting an electric shock. Besides, the fixtures must eventually be rewired, which will require additional labor.

Conclusion

The most important step in knowing how to wire led tube lights without ballast is to understand the options available for you. We have discussed four possibilities and realized that Type B LED tube lights are the best. They save electricity, have low maintenance costs, and are eco-friendly. It would be best if you also remembered to buy from a reputable manufacturer.

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