I want to install some good bright LED lights in a shop. I have access to some nice fluorescent-type fixtures for cheap or free (two 4-ft T8 tubes), so I want to just use them with LED replacement tubes. I'm wondering what the pros and cons are of the kind of tube that works with the fluorescent ballast or the kind that requires you to re-wire the fixture to supply 120vac directly to the tube. I lean towards the latter, since the re-wiring should be very little trouble and I'm perfectly comfortable doing it myself, and it seems silly to have a piece of electronics (the ballast) in there that isn't needed. And I seriously doubt I'll ever want to switch back to actual fluorescent tubes.

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    I prefer and you should Choose the latter for all the reasons that you stated. – Alaska man Mar 21 '17 at 9:00
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    With 120v direct, make sure to put a warning on the fixture to save the next guy from installing fluorescents. I also prefer the direct to 120v LED and removing the ballast. – JerryOL Mar 27 '17 at 17:54

Direct wire. Worst case you have to change a lampholder.

Plug-n-play doesn't allow a ballast, it requires a ballast! And of a specific type - if the fixture has the wrong type, you would have the ignominious task of buying a new ballast and also possibly change lampholders too. It's one more thing to maintain.

  • yeah, I know it requires a ballast - but I didn't know of a specific type (the existing one might not work). Yet another reason to go direct-wire. What's this about the lamp-holder though ? Can you explain ? Thanks. – RustyShackleford Mar 21 '17 at 18:08
  • I'm curious why the direct-wire type LED replacement tubes seem to be more expensive though (at least at 1000bulbs-dot-com). – RustyShackleford Mar 21 '17 at 18:09
  • The lampholder is the white thing the tube snaps into, aka tombstone. There is a nasty critter called a "shorting" lampholder that is often used with instant-start ballasts to save a bit of wire. diy.stackexchange.com/a/104887/47125 it will not play well with LED lamps that take power from one end. There is no technical reason for prices to be different, probably supply/demand. Watch out for cheapies, they won't last but you know that. – Harper Mar 21 '17 at 18:19
  • Thanks @Harper. The ones at 1000bulbs are about $15 each. Any brands you'd specifically recommend avoiding ? – RustyShackleford Mar 21 '17 at 18:26
  • @RustyShackleford There's an old saying, nobody ever got fired for buying IBM. If it's tinkering/goofing, cheap Chinese. Otherwise if it needs to last or impress someone, I'd stick to A-tier manufacturers like Philips, Sylvania, GE, etc. Generally if they're one of the Big Five LED emitter manufacturers, they probably use their own stuff and are a safe bet. Watch out for estimated life, that's an indicator of Energy Star 1.2 vs 2.0 (the latter allows cheapie "5 year" LEDs meaning the power supplies are junk). – Harper Mar 21 '17 at 18:31

My tubes came from eBay, and no mention was made about plug-n-play.

I use end to end wiring. (No LED driver required).

Either prong on each end will work - they are wired together at each end.

Since I had two tubes in my fixture I wired them in parallel.

Removed my ballast entirely.

Now instead of 2x 40 Watts, the two-tube fixture draws about 37 Watts.

  • That varies by lamp. Some want hot+neutral on opposite ends of the tube. If they don't say otherwise, one should expect direct-wire. – Harper Mar 21 '17 at 18:23
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    Mine came with the wrong instructions so when I put power to one end it blew the circuit breaker. So then I put hot on one end and neutral on the other and it worked. Then I hooked them in parallel. – SDsolar Mar 21 '17 at 23:06
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    I've also seen wrong instruction sheets. Don't follow them blindly, think through what they are asking you to do. Does it make sense? – JerryOL Mar 27 '17 at 17:52

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