7 Ways to Convert Your Fluorescent Light Fixtures to LED

7 Ways to Convert Your Fluorescent Light Fixtures to LED

Updated! This article used to give you 6 ways to convert your fluorescent light fixtures to LED, but we've added a seventh!

How do you replace your fluorescent tubes with LED? Let us count the ways! In today's blog, we break down the advantages and disadvantages of each of your options.

If you have fluorescent fixtures and are eying the cost- and energy-savings of switching to LED lighting, you'll find there are two paths you can take: convert your existing fixtures to work with LED or replace those fixtures with new LED fixtures. But within those paths are a number of options, depending on the type and location of your fixtures, your lighting goals, and your budget. Whichever you go with in the end, you're guaranteed reduce both your energy use and operating costs by a significant amount. And don't forget the other benefit of LED lighting: you're going to enjoy a much (much) longer lamp life than you've been used to!

If You Want to Convert Your Fluorescent Fixture to LED:

Option 1: Replace your fluorescent tubes with LED retrofit tubes

Convert your existing fluorescent fixture to LED with LED retrofit tubes.What you need to know:

  • Less expensive than replacing the whole fixture
  • Requires a little bit of re-wiring of the fixture to bypass the fixture's ballast (to wire the mains directly to the sockets)
  • But since the ballast accounts for about 10% of your fixture's energy draw, your fixture will be even more energy efficient when you're done
  • Plus you eliminate annoying ballast failures and the flickering and dimness that are symptoms of a ballast on its way to failing
  • Retrofit tubes are available in standard and high efficiency models
  • A 4-lamp 4-foot fixture can go from what you have now (about 7200 lumens in LED terms, or the equivalent of replacing a fixture that has four brand new fluorescent tubes with four 1800-lumen LED tubes) to nearly twice as bright (about 12,000 lumens with four 3000-lumen LED tubes), depending on the lumen rating of your LED replacement tube.
  • LEDs use between 60W and 80W per 4-lamp, 4-foot fixture vs 128W to 172W, but they can do even better than that: our high-efficiency, Ultra High Lumen lights can act as 1-for-2 replacements, allowing you to light a 4-lamp fluorescent fixture with just 2 LED tubes, or a total of 40W vs 128W.
  • 50,000-hour average lamp life vs 30,000-hour fluorescent lamp life
  • Available with or without DLC listing—DLC listing qualifies lights for energy-saving lighting upgrade rebates from your utility provider
Shop retrofit LED tubes

Option 2: Replace your fluorescent tubes with ballast-compatible LED tubes

Ballast compatible direct drop-in LED tubes require no fixture rewiring when used with most electronic-ballast fluorescent fixturesWhat you need to know:

  • As easy to install as changing a light bulb in most fluorescent fixtures!
  • Compatible with most electronic ballasts without rewiring
  • Incompatible ballasts (some electronic, all magnetic) require a small bit of rewiring to bypass the ballast before installing the tubes
  • Replace four 32W fluorescent tubes with four 12W ballast compatibles and bring your fixture's power rating down from 128W to 48W.
  • 50,000-hour average lamp life, just like the retrofits
  • DLC listed for utility rebate eligibility
Shop ballast compatible plug & play LED tubes

Option 3: Replace your fluorescent tubes with magnetic LED strips

Magnetic LED strips are ways to upgrade fluorescent fixtures to LEDWhat you need to know:

  • As with tubes, this option is less expensive than replacing the fixture
  • The magnetic LED strips and magnetic LED driver easily adhere to metal fixtures
  • No need to wire power to tombstone sockets—simply connect your building's power to the driver, then quick-connect the driver to the strips with the included cables
  • If you're looking for the brightest light available, our Ultra High Lumen LED strips put out even more light than our Ultra High Lumen LED tubes
  • Uses just 32W to 40W per 2-lamp, 4-foot troffer
  • 50,000-hour average lamp life
  • DLC listed for utility rebate eligibility
Shop magnetic LED retrofit strips

Option 4: Install a one-piece lay-in LED troffer retrofit

Lay-in troffer upgrade kits convert your fluorescent troffers to LEDWhat you need to know:

  • Clean, new look hides old fixtures
  • Quick 10-minute install
  • Provides 3,750 lumens per 2x2 troffer
  • Uses 30W per 2x2 troffer
  • 50,000-hour average lamp life
  • DLC listed for utility rebate eligibility
Shop lay-in LED troffer retrofits

If You Want to Replace Your Fluorescent Fixture with an LED Fixture:

Option 1: Replace your fluorescent fixture with an LED-ready T8 fixture + LED tubes

LED-ready fixtures work with all LED tubes, right out of the boxWhat you need to know:

  • Works with any LED tube without rewiring—just pop the tubes in and go
  • Clean, new fixtures update the overall look of your workplace
  • Lumens, watts, and lamp life depend on the tubes you purchase for it
  • Get 5% off tubes when you purchase them with fixtures from ELEDLights.com
  • DLC listing & rebate eligibility are based on the tubes you purchase for the fixture
Shop LED-ready T8 fixtures

Option 2: Replace your fixtures with LED panel lights

LED panel lights can be used in drop ceilings or surface mountedWhat you need to know:

  • Retain the troffer footprint while upgrading to a sleek, contemporary look
  • Ideal for replacing fixtures in suspended grid ceilings, can also be surface-mounted to flat ceilings
  • Provides evenly dispersed lighting without the visible dim spots that sometimes show with both fluorescent and LED tubes
  • Brightest option we have for replacing a 2-tube 2x4 fixture (and bright enough to replace a 4-tube 2x4 fixture)
  • Provides 7800 lumens per 2x4 fixture
  • Uses 60W per fixture
  • 50,000-hour average lamp life
  • Panels available with or without DLC listing for utility rebate eligibility
Shop LED panel lights

Option 3: Replace your fluorescent fixture with a LED fixture

LED linear light fixtureWhat you need to know:

  • All-in-one design allows for sleeker, slimmer profile
  • Some all-in-one fixtures, like our Integrated Tube Lights, aren't much larger than a fluorescent tube
  • Can be surface mounted or suspended from wires
  • Often provides more light output than fixtures with tubes
  • Long lamp life reduces concerns over having to replace the fixture at the end of its life
  • The all-in-one design also allows for greater dust and water protection
  • All our linear LED fixtures are DLC listed for utility rebate eligibility
Shop linear LED fixtures


Not sure which way to go? Our expert team is available to help with your conversion from fluorescent to LED. Contact our West Coast facility at 858.581.0597, our East Coast facility at 215.355.7200, or email sales@eledlights.com.

Keep in mind that, although the lumen output may seem lower for LED tubes than fluorescents, there are a number of reasons why you'll experience LED lights as being as bright as, if not brighter than, fluorescents (something we've covered in more detail in this blog post). With today's technology, you can rest assured that if you're buying an LED tube from a reputable manufacturer, it will be at least as bright as the fluorescent you're replacing. Which means that the lumen rating for various LED tubes is best used to compare one LED option against another. The higher the number, the greater the light output.