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I have a solid state electronic ballast that houses T12 Fluorescent tubes. Recently one of them burnt out and I want to change it to LED fluorescent tubes. I bought 2 Phillips universal fit tubes. I decided to remove the ballast to get real energy savings.

I followed multiple YouTube videos on the bypass process, but it isn't working for me. Every time I turn on the lights, nothing happens.

Can someone please point out what I'm doing wrong?

Here's how my current setup looks like Right side Left side

YouTube Videos I referenced:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqU3nuxc5w8&ab_channel=StarLed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPCI9eILwoA&ab_channel=motoforlyfe

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  • What specific LED tubes did you get? If you bought ones that expect a ballast, you need a working ballast (thus, I'm not a fan of them - but they are different from "direct wire" LED replacements, so what, exactly, you got matters - as does "how those specific LED tubes expect to be wired" - First guess is that "end to end" may be more likely to fly than single ended, which seems to be what you did - but without details on the tubes beyond brand and "universal fit" there's no knowing. – Ecnerwal Sep 10 '20 at 22:51
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    I tried wiring it end to end as well but it didn't work either. I got these ones homedepot.ca/product/… – Alex Sep 10 '20 at 23:02
  • There single ended double ended ballast bypass and some LED’s that require the ballast. Wiring things from Utube videos is a good way to blow things up. If you provide the model of the lamps I am sure we can help. Did you know even the tombstones can be the problem? Shunted or non shunted usually universal require non shunted and all single ended require non shunted. – Ed Beal Sep 10 '20 at 23:13
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    Why did you remove the ballast? From the bulb description on the website you linked.... "compatible with T12 fluorescent rapid magnetic ballast.". Also from the page... "Instant fit design means that no modifications are needed to the current fixture housing instant start ballast, nor rewiring, simply plug it in and use" see that last part? Just plug it in a.k.a direct replacement... Remove old bulb and plug this one in, not remove old ballast or do some YouTube bypass. – Gunner Sep 10 '20 at 23:14
  • The two videos contradict each other. One describes single-ended wiring and the other is for double-ended. I don't see how you could've used them as a guide. Did you read the instructions included with the lights? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 11 '20 at 1:46
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You must follow the Electrical Code.

NEC 110.3(B) Installation and Use. Listed or labeled equipment shall be installed and used in accordance with any instructions included in the listing or labeling.

You did not read the instructions, so you broke the law. I know because if you had, it would have worked (or you would have realized you bought the wrong thing).

The problem

There are at least four kinds of LED "tube" on the market.

  • Plug-n-Play: These require a fluorescent ballast to be present. They may have particular requirements to the ballast. With these, you can easily rollback to real fluorescent once you realize LED replacement "tubes" are a stupid product. This is the one you bought.
  • Direct wire, opposite ends: These tubes take direct 120-277V, but they want hot and neutral on opposite ends of the tube. They can be wired into any fluorescent fixture, and they are relatively safe. This is what you wanted.
  • Direct wire, same end: These tubes take direct 120-277V, but one end is inert, and they take 120V and neutral on the two pins at the same end (yeah, 120V across those little pins? What could go wrong? LOL) These cannot work on instant-start fixtures, unless you also replace the tombstones, which is a stupid amount of parts-hunting and work. If you plug the tube in backwards it doesn't work, which leads to a lot of confusion during installation.
  • Universal: These will both Plug-n-Play, and direct-wire-opposite-ends. They have better electronics so they can work both ways. This is what you thought you were buying.

As you can see, there's a lot to this.

Youtube sucks

The root of your problem is that you coasted on your assumptions and relied on a bunch of jackasses on Youtube. I realize many of us grew up with Walter Cronkite or Anderson Cooper being careful, reliable reporters of truth, so it's easy to get stuck on "Anything on TV is quality and well-researched". LOL not on Youtube.

Youtube is a sea of morons, and that's for a reason: Youtube is monetized. Content producers that get big enough can make 6-7 digits, get your gold Youtube plaque and quit your day job. Every starry-eyed jackass with a camera is rushing to turn their channel into that. They crank out lots of content in a big hurry, just to be first to a subject so they have more time to collect views and viewers, which is where the money is. They don't care if the information is accurate or thorough. They're not here to help you.

I don't exaggerate when I say "morons", that's part of the schtick: If you just try to do a straight informational channel with no jackass antics or clickbait thumbnails, you don't get views and it doesn't pay. There are much better videos that explain all of the above, but they don't get clicks so they don't rank so you didn't find them.

So enough with the Youtube.

The right way

Now that you know what to look for, you can take this back to the shop and find some opposite-end direct-wire (or universal) LED tubes.

Or you could go ahead and install a real T8 ballast and convert to real T8 fluorescent, which will be more straightforward. If your fixture has 1 wire going to each tombstone, get an instant-start T8 ballast. If 2 wires, get a rapid-start or programmed-start T8 ballast. Wire according to the instructions and diagram. Then you can use real fluorescents or the Plug-n-Play "tubes" you do have. The 90 CRI real fluorescent tubes on the market now are the best light made.

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  • I take it you're not a fan of the tube of you... – FreeMan Sep 11 '20 at 17:05
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    @FreeMan More not a fan of its search engine, because it takes you to monetized cheese and hides the good stuff... Could be worse... that gang could work for Google... oh wait... – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 11 '20 at 17:42
  • Now, now. "120V across those little pins?" What do you think happens when a "Programmed or Rapid start" type ballast (or separate starter for your good old slow-glows) fires up the heaters? It ain't fairy dust... Those pins have been designed to "take that" since before there were "instant start" ballasts, TYVM. Not like you to sow misinformation... – Ecnerwal Sep 12 '20 at 16:40
  • Hold on @Ecnerwal. The preheaters take comparatively low voltage, and they are inherently current limited. Not at all the same as full 120V. The strike voltage happens between the ends, so what's relevant there is the "both pins, to chassis" insulation. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 12 '20 at 17:18
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Looking at the Phillips web site it states replacement tubes no rewiring needed. I do not see anything that states universal. Universal usually have the info on single ended or double ended.

Replacement lamps require a functional ballast.

This is why I say UTube can get you in trouble sometimes guys do not know what there doing. Some times they make it look like they did something getting you to follow their instructions blindly and blow things up.

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  • Some LED tubes need the original ballast, others don't. If you get the ones that don't need a ballast, you are required to attach a sticker mentioning that. Here is a link that gives at lot more information: blog.1000bulbs.com/home/how-to-bypass-a-ballast – George Anderson Sep 10 '20 at 23:50
  • Home Depot does not show the packaging which is why you didn't see the labeling. Here's the image I took of the packaging imgur.com/a/E6TsNQR At any rate, I think you're right that this bulb is designed to work with a ballast, which maybe why I couldn't get the lights working. My assumption was that all LED fluorescent lights can work without a ballast and I personally prefer removing components where possible so less things need to be replaced. – Alex Sep 11 '20 at 11:55
  • Alex I 100% agree that if the lamps have direct wire capability it is smart to remove the ballast for 2 reasons. first is you remove ballast failure and 2nd the overall efficiency is higher. I do purchase ballast comparable direct wire single or double ended lamps for all my 4’ T8 & T12 replacements in some cases I will toss them in quickly and then later when the workers are out of the area go back and rewire. Your question asked for help and MFG website states only ballast compatibility. If you believe you were mislead by the packaging take them back. T8 & T12 direct wire are the same. – Ed Beal Sep 11 '20 at 14:39

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