Everything You Need to Know When Replacing Fluorescent Tubes with LEDs

The fluorescent tubes have accompanied us in our kitchens, garages, etc., for a long time. While considering to replace them with LED tubes to save electricity bill and save the energy, and of course, to help protect the environment has become the new trend. 

What Is A Fluorescent Tube and What Is the Working Principle?

A fluorescent tube is filled with a small amount of inert gas (usually Argon) together with a few droplets of mercury, at each end of the tube there is a small filament that is heated with the electric current in a way that emits electrons, these are drawn from the filament – to +, and do so by passing through the mercury vapor of the tube, causing it to emit ultraviolet radiation. In turn the tube has an inner coating formed by chemicals that absorb ultraviolet light and re-emit it as visible light. This system has been used for lighting for more than 100 years mainly due to its better efficiency compared to incandescent lamps.

working principle of fluorescent tube

It is important to emphasize that a fluorescent tube needs two accessory elements indispensable to operate: the starter and the ballast.

How Much Will I Save with A LED Tube?

With the advancement of LED lighting technology surge substitutes for fluorescent tubes, the main advantage of the LED technology is energy saving, sure there are also other advantages. As an approximation, we can say that an LED tube will consume less than half of power than a fluorescent tube with equal luminous energy emitted, therefore, the equivalences would be:

18W Fluorescent tube = 8W-10W LED tube 36W Fluorescent tube = 15W-20W LED tube 52W Fluorescent tube = 22-25W LED tube

These data are only approximations, you have to check the technical parameters with the manufacturer of LED tube to see if the substitution is adequate.

Here is one of our customers’ experience with LED retrofit in Spain:

I have 1000 fluorescent tubes of 36W in my warehouse that are turned on 12h daily. According to its data sheet gives about 2800 lm each.

If we replace them with LED tubes of 22W that give the same 2800lm we will not lose luminosity but a significant energy saving. Let’s see what:

36W * 12h * 1000 tubes = 432 KWh per day 22W * 12h * 1000 tubes = 264 KWh per day

The savings would be around 168 KWh a day, equally 25.2 Euro. We bought these 1000 tubes of 22W LED of 2800lm from iLUXZ by €8.85 each (the price in 2015), with which the total investment would be of €9,250, therefore in theory it will take 367 days to pay back. This may seem like a little long payback term, but it is not completely true, you have to take these aspects into account:

The fluorescent tubes have a useful life, so if we take advantage of the replacement of one of them to make the change to LED, the amount of the investment would be the difference between the cost of the LED tube and the cost of the replacement of the fluorescent tube, with that we would lower the amortization period quite a bit.

In addition to the tubes, the ballast has an energy consumption that would have to be counted, depending on whether it is electronic or not, the consumption can vary a lot. In fact there are cases where the ballast consumption is higher than that of the fluorescence tube.

The starter is usually an element that is damaged enough and it is necessary to replace them from time to time, which is not the case with LED tubes since they do not need them. 

Advantages of LED Tube

The LED tube is directional, unlike the fluorescent tube that emits light in all directions. For this reason, the traditional tubes need reflecting to take advantage of the light that goes towards the part of the ceiling. This makes the LED tube even more efficient. 

Fluorescent tubes have a small amount of mercury inside, this is not a problem until they are broken, but in the case that this happens, the breakage of a single tube could contaminate 30,000L of water. In LED tubes this does not happen as they do not have mercury in it.

How to Replace A Fluorescent Tube with LED

Hands on, we have already bought the led tube and now we are going to replace our old friend the fluorescent tube. Now, the ballast and starter, what do we do with them? Here is how. 

replace fluorescent tubes with LED tubes light

The most convenient part is to eliminate them and proceed to give direct AC power to the LED tube, before doing so we must make sure how is the connection of the new tube, although we will always find 2 pins on each side we can have several possibilities:

Situation 1 (Single-ended): “+” and “-” are on one side, and two pins on another side are “false”.

Situation 2: (Double-ended): “+” on one side and “-” on another side (you don’t have to worry about which side is which).  

Keep eyes on this since we can have problems when replacing with the tube.

Although there is a method to make the fluorescent-LED change based on installing an LED starter (which is no more than a shorted starter), we do not recommend it as there is no need to leave unnecessary elements in our facility.

Where to Buy LED Tubes?

Now LED product is popular and you can just find in local electronic stores if you only need few of them. But for industrial buyers, distributors or electronic contractors who often require tens of thousands of LED tubes, you can contact iLUXZ and tell your sales manager what you’re looking for, we always provide customized manufacturing service so that you can decide wattage, color temperature, brightness, etc., even the brand of key components. Our TUV certificated LED tubes provides 5 years guarantee with lumen efficient up to 140-150lm/W.

So, what are you waiting for?

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