It’s common knowledge that replacing fluorescent T8 tubes with T8 LED tubes can help you save on energy and maintenance costs. Fluorescent tubes are less energy efficient, require special disposal methods, and need to be replaced more often compared to LEDs. Though they have quirks of their own, LED tubes eliminate, or at least alleviate, those issues. Here are three of the most common questions asked when upgrading or retrofitting with T8 LED tubes:
Are Direct Wire T8 LEDs Single Ended?
Yes, most direct wire T8 LEDs are single ended. The fixture is rewired so that only one set of sockets receive power, leaving the other set be used as lampholders to keep your bulbs in place. Double-ended direct wire T8 LED bulbs have recently become available. These tubes receive power on both ends, making installation faster. To determine if your T8 LEDs are single or double-ended, take a look at the installation instructions. Removing the ballast and cutting the wiring for sockets at one end of the fixture is required for single ended tubes.
Do I Need to Use Non-Shunted Sockets for Direct Wire Tubes?
Non-shunted sockets are required for most direct wire LED T8s. The major difference between sockets is the way current flows through the fixture. Shunted sockets allow for current to follow a single path, while non-shunted sockets have current flowing through multiple paths. There are a few exceptions to the non-shunted socket rule. Some LED direct wire tubes may specifically require shunted sockets, so always check the installation instructions. Double-ended direct wire LED tubes can be used with either shunted or non-shunted sockets. Plug and play LED tubes use shunted sockets since they are typically compatible with electronic instant start ballasts. These ballasts need shunted sockets in order to operate properly.
Why Won’t My Hybrid LED Tubes Work Without a Ballast?
In order for your hybrid tubes to work without ballasts, you need to rewire your fixture. Hybrid LED tubes are designed to work with or without a ballast. Initially installed as plug and play bulbs in fixtures with compatible ballasts, hybrids can be used with shunted sockets while in ballast mode but must use non-shunted sockets in direct wire mode. This allows the tubes to be installed easily without needing to replace the sockets. Once the ballast no longer works, the fixture will need to be rewired for direct wire operation. This means taking out the ballast and replacing any shunted sockets with non-shunted sockets. Once the fixture is rewired, the hybrid tube operates as a direct wire tube.
Now that you have a better understanding of T8 LED tubes, replacing your old fluorescent T8 tubes should be easy. But if ever in doubt, consult a licensed electrician.