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I have several T5 fluorescent lights in my kitchen, serving as under-cabinet lighting. Some of them are bust, and I’d like to replace them with LED strips instead.

The power for these lights are incorporated into the walls, hooked up to standard light switches. If possible, I’d like to replace the T5 units without needing to try to pull the new cables through the units.

I have some basic electrical skills: I’ve replaced several light switches and can rewire plugs, etc. But beyond that my knowledge is relatively limited. I’m pretty confident could follow a decent guide though.

Are there LED strips available that easily plug into these connectors?

T5 Connector

Alternatively, how would I best go about replacing these with LED lights? Is it just a case of sucking it up and pulling cable through the walls?

  • There are several options that do not involve pulling cable in the walls. You could turn off the breaker and then cut the end of that cable off and put on a standard plug, then just purchase LED strips that have the transformer built into them. Or get LED strips that meant to be hard wired and splice them into the cable you have. A little investigation on the world wide intertubes will inform you. LED T5 replacement bulbs ? – Alaska Man Nov 20 '19 at 19:56
  • I believe that there are some places that sell things to replace t5 with led – JIMMYPlay Nov 20 '19 at 19:58
  • What do you mean by "lights"? Are you looking at replacing the entire fixture, ballasts and all; or just fitting LED replacement tubes into the existing fixtures? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Nov 20 '19 at 20:20
  • I deleted my answer as I thought you wanted tubes. Look at 1000bulbs.com they have a lot of options for strip lights and strip retrofits (I don’t know if any of these are DLC listed but look for that for a quality light when thinking LED. I have no connection to 1000bulbs other than they have a huge selection and fair prices. – Ed Beal Nov 20 '19 at 20:21
  • I've installed several sets of line-level LED pucks. I like them better than strips for their ambiance. You can probably find line-level strips, too. The problem always comes back to code and UL-listed connections (outside junction boxes). – isherwood Nov 20 '19 at 21:36
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There are three ways to go.

  1. Fit T-5 LED retrofit "tubes" into your existing fixture.
  2. Purchase a new fixture which has socketed light bulbs, and fit LED light bulbs in the sockets.
  3. Purchase a new socketless fixture which has LEDs soldered down. Socketing LEDs is ridiculous since the LED emitter will last longer than the socket! (not so high hopes for the electronic driver circuit; that's probably what will die actually, but quality varies dramatically on that.)

Most of us here will recommend #1, for sheer simplicity of installation. In this case, you obtain LED retrofit "tubes" (they look like a T5 fluorescent tube, but are festooned with LEDs instead of filled with argon gas or whatever). You must be conscious of what you are buying, because there are two ways to go here:

  • Plug-and-play, which means they pop right in where the tube went for ease of upgrade, except they still require the old fluorescent ballast (an electronic module) to be present and maintained. If the ballast fails you must maintain it. Upside; you can always roll back to actual fluorescent tubes.
  • Direct-wire aka ballast-bypass, in which you pop the ballast maintenance cover off the fixture, and rearrange the wires so the AC power feeds the lamp sockets directly. Then the fixture only works with LED "tubes".

The fourth (first, really) option is to replace the fluorescent tubes with new actual fluorescent tubes. Do this if you see black rings near the ends of the tubes, or other signs the tubes are worn out. If the tubes look healthy, the ballast may have failed - and that means don't do plug-n-play LED! T5 tubes are expensive enough that I wouldn't want to buy some just to find out. In 1-2 bulb quantity, LED "tube" replacements are cheaper than plain tubes!

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