Should I Use Direct Install or Ballast Rewire LED Tubes?
There is some confusion out there regarding choosing the right LED T8 tubes for your application because there are some that can be installed directly into your fixture, and there are some in which the fixture must be rewired in order to bypass the existing ballast that runs the existing fluorescent tubes in the fixture. There are different tube lengths available, but I’m only going to be talking about the 4 foot T8 size.
Obviously, it is much easier to just put in the direct install type LED tube and not have the additional labor of rewiring the sockets. It’s very convenient, and you start instantly saving on energy usage, heat output, labor, and disposal of fluorescent tubes. However, when the ballast goes out (and it eventually will) you will have to replace the ballast (assuming your LED tube is still working), thus creating additional re-wiring work at that time.
This is why I prefer the ballast bypass or ballast rewire type of LED tube. It comes with easy instructions to bypass the existing ballast which you can remove forever, and when your LED tube burns out (it probably won’t for 5+ years) you just pop a new LED tube in the fixture and never have to worry about the ballast again. You will get all the savings benefits PLUS the savings on ballast replacements. In case you are wondering, this is an example of what a T8 electronic fluorescent ballast looks like:
You also want to look at the Kelvin temperature of the LED tube. When you are looking at the part number or description of the tube, you will see a number followed by the letter “K” (Kelvin). It will say 3000K, 4000K, or 5000K, or maybe even 4100K. The higher the number, the whiter, closer to daylight color the light output will be. So for example, if it’s a 3000K it’s a warm or pinker color, while 4000K and 4100K are considered “cool white” color, and 5000K, 6000K, and 6500K are considered “daylight” color.
Here are a couple of links to the two different options of 4 foot T8 LED tube replacements:
Direct Install: This is a really nice option for a 4 foot direct install T8 LED in a daylight color. This one is great because not only is it frosted so you don’t see the LED lamps inside, but it’s a 5000K daylight AND you can use it with or without a ballast. These daylight tubes are great for kitchens, offices, and other spaces where you want more natural daylight lighting.
Ballast Rewire: I like this ballast rewire type because it’s frosted so you don’t see the LED lamps inside. It’s also 4000K which is closest to standard “cool white” which will match many existing applications like kitchens, garages, offices, etc. Remember, if you choose this type you will have to rewire the sockets so the ballast is bypassed, but it comes with instructions and after that you will never have to deal with the ballast again.
If you like a color that’s closer to natural daylight, you should look for a higher kelvin bulb like this 5000K led tubes option. These are frosted tubes which look really nice, they come with free shipping, and it’s a great price for a 4-pack.
For more information on choosing LED bulbs, please visit our Choosing LED Light Bulbs page.
If you are looking for CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) LED replacements, please visit our How to Choose LED Replacements for CFL’s page.