LED technology is emerging as a popular choice when retrofitting existing lighting fixtures as well as for new construction projects. Longer lamp life, higher fixture efficiency, and smart controls are a few reasons that T8 LED tubes are trending well in both residential and commercial lighting.
When looking at the past 5 years, there is no doubt T8 LED tubes are improving in efficiency and pricing. Early setbacks have given them a questionable reputation. However, customers are getting informed, learning about the benefits as well as concerns associated with LED tube retrofits and making the switch to LED.
Benefits of LED T8 tubes:
- Energy savings is a common result when choosing LED lighting. Replacing a standard F32T8 linear fluorescent with an T8 LED tube can save 30-40% of the energy usage associated with the lighting.
- A long lamp life of 50,000 hours or more means maintenance savings, when performing less frequent re-lamping.
- LEDs do not emit UV and will not fade fabrics or artwork, or degrade food or beverage quality with ultraviolet radiation.
- LED lamps contain no mercury.
- T8 LED tubes can replace T8 linear fluorescent lamps in a variety of fixture types including troffers, wraps, channel strip lighting, high bay, and vapor-tight – interior and exterior.
What you should know about T8 LED Tubes – there are OPTIONS:
LENGTH: The most common lengths are 2’ and 4’ for compatibility with fixtures designed for linear fluorescent of the same lengths. ShineRetrofits.com also offers T8 LED lamps in 5’, 6’ and 8’ lengths for cooler case doors, signage or custom projects.
SHAPE: Linear is most common, and u-bend options exist for replacing u-bend linear fluorescents.
WATTAGE: Wattage generally increases corresponding to lamp length and quantity of LED modules per tube. 10 - 16 watts (2’); 18 – 22 watts (4’); 26 – 52 watts (5’ – 8’)
LUMENS: Light output can range based on wattage and design. Four-foot LED T8 lamps may deliver anywhere between 1,700 – 3,800 lumens, which is comparable to the 4’ linear fluorescent that deliver 2,800 on average.
VOLTAGE: Many lamps are multi-volt 120-277v, some are designed for a specific voltage or range.
DIMMING: Not all T8 LED tubes are dimmable. Be sure the product specifications match your lighting control requirements.
COLOR TEMPERATURE: LED T8s lamps are offered in your preference of Color temperature typically ranges between 2700K and 5700K.
OPTICS: Most LED T8s have plastic tube housing, few are glass. Lamp options include clear or frosted lens. Beam angles in narrow directional spread and up to 360-degree light output.
CERTIFICATIONS: For quality purposes, lamps achieve a diverse assortment of ratings or certifications including but not limited to Design Lights Consortium (DLC) qualified products list, ANSI, CE, ETL Listed, FCC Compliant, Made in America, ROHS, UL Listed.
WARRANTY: Warranties vary by manufacturer generally between 2 to 5 years.
When on the ShineRetrofits.com product pages, refer to information on the Product Details and Specifications tabs. Before starting your project, use these learn which lamp options match the specifications you require.
What is the difference between internal drivers and external drivers?
Similar to the fluorescent concept where a ballast provides starting voltage and regulates current to the lamps, an LED system requires a driver. If external, the driver is mounted separately and wired to one or more LED tubes. Internally driven lamps have the driver located within the housing of the tube.
PRO = Simpler retrofit installation. Remove or bypass the existing ballast and wire directly to socket.
CON = More difficult to incorporate dimming features, safety and shock risk, smaller components housed within the tube raises overall temperature of the tube and can reduce the lifespan of the LEDs.
If the fixture includes a starter and magnetic ballast, the installer must modify the existing control gear by removing/opening the starter and removing/shorting the magnetic ballasts.
If the fixture includes an electronic ballast, the installer must bypass the electronic ballast completely and wire the power directly to the end socket of the tube.
Example Installation Instructions:
Warning: LED tubes cannot be used with instant start and shunted sockets. Use with bi-pin rapid start sockets only
- First of all, make sure that the supply voltage (input) is disconnected.
- Remove existing fluorescent lamp
- Remove existing ballast and starter where applicable
- Rewire the light fixture as show in the circuit diagram (reference specific product installation diagrams)
- One side will have “AC” to indicate the side for input
- Insert LED tube into lamp socket
- Reconnect power to fixture
PRO = Flexible system design without, applying smart features and dimming is easy; ideal operating temperatures, longer life span, safer product.
CON = Comprehensive system installation, drivers & lamps install separately
The external driver is mounted within the fixture or ceiling grid and wired to LED tubes.
Use the correct type of socket, when installing T8 LED lamps
Sockets or lamp holders are often called tombstones because of their shape. There are two different types of sockets, shunted and non-shunted. Generally, non-shunted (or unshunted) sockets are used with rapid start ballasts and accept a total of 4 wires on the end of the unit. This configuration is sometimes referred to as single ended or 1 pole wiring (1P). Shunted sockets are used with instant start ballasts and accept 2 wires on the end of each socket. This configuration is sometimes referred to as dual ended or 2 pole wiring (2P).
The rule of thumb is 2 pole (2P) compatible bulbs will work with both shunted and non-shunted sockets, while the one pole (1P) can only be used with non-shunted sockets.
Achieve Energy Savings
When replacing a standard 32w linear fluorescent T8 lamp with a 20w T8 LED tube, this provides an immediate wattage reduction and long term energy savings over the lifetime of the lamp.
Energy Savings Scenario: OFFICE RETROFIT
Energy savings occurs when there is a wattage reduction for your system. For this example, an office has (20) 2-lamp F32T8 linear fluorescent fixtures. Runtime is 9 hours/day, 5 days/week, or 2340 hours annually*. A side by side comparison highlights a 30%+ energy savings along with a few points to consider when retrofitting linear fluorescent with LED tubes.
(2) F32T8 NBF
(2) 20w LED T8
|Lumens per watt
|Lamp life (hours)
|Lamp life (years)
|Annual operating cost
*A blended utility rate of $0.11 per kWh is used. Higher utility rates further increase the cost savings.
Start Browsing – Product Examples
Many rebate programs require new LED lighting to be on the DLC qualified products list, because that ensures they use the most-efficient technology. You can browse the wide selection of DLC listed T8 LED products while on ShineRetrofits.com DLC tube category page.
LED T8 tube ready fixtures - for new construction projects, or where you will replace existing fixtures.
Whether your preference is LED T8 ready fixtures or retrofitting existing fixtures, LED T8 tubes are viable options alongside whole fixture LED retrofits.
Our team of lighting experts is ready when you have any questions. Since we have so many products on our website, we are available to assist with finding the right one. Just give us a call M-F 6AM-6PM MST at 1-800-983-1315. Additionally, you may send us a message with our contact form.