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5 Ways to Convert Your Fluorescent Light Fixtures to LED

We're often asked, "How do you replace fluorescent tubes with LED?" and "Which LED replacement for fluorescent is best?" In this article, we break down the advantages and disadvantages of each fluorescent-to-LED option.

If you have fluorescent fixtures and are eying the cost-savings and energy use reduction of switching to LED lighting, you'll find there are two paths you can take: 1) Convert your existing fixtures to work with LED replacements or 2) Replace your fluorescent fixtures with all-new LED fixtures.

Within those two paths are a number of additional options. Which one you choose depends on the type and location of your fixtures, your lighting goals, and your budget.

Whatever solution you ultimately choose, you will reduce energy usage, operating costs, and maintenance time needed by a significant amount – without sacrificing light quality or brightness levels.

Path 1: Converting Fluorescent Fixtures to LED:

Option 1: Replace 4ft fluorescent tubes with LED 4ft tube lights.

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

  • Buying 4ft LED tubes is less expensive than replacing a whole fixture.
  • They use 40% less energy than fluorescent tubes.
  • A 50,000-hour average lamp life vs 30,000-hour fluorescent lamp life means you save on maintenance costs, too.
  • 4ft LED tube lights often qualify for money-saving financial incentives and rebates offered by utility companies, as well as business tax breaks.
  • Ballast bypass/type B tubes will need minor re-wiring of the fixture, redirecting power from the ballast to the tombstone sockets—but since the ballast accounts for as much as 10% of your fixture's energy draw, your fixture will be even more energy efficient when you're done. (Ballast compatible/type A tubes, on the other hand, work only with certain types of ballasts.)
  • Choose between a low cost like-for-like LED fluorescent replacement tube to get the same light output at a lower energy cost, or an ultra high lumen LED fluorescent replacement tube for additional brightness at even more efficient operation—or find your sweet spot somewhere in the middle.
Shop 4ft LED tube lights

Option 2: Replace your fluorescent tubes with magnetic LED strip lights

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

  • Less expensive than replacing the whole fixture
  • Uses 40% less energy
  • Less re-wiring involved than with tubes—instead of wiring the mains to each individual tombstone socket, you wire the mains one LED driver
  • Magnetic LED lights strips and driver easily adhere to metal fixtures, freeing up both hands for an easier installation
  • It's a ballast bypass solution, so you don't have to pay for the energy used by the fixture's fluorescent ballast
  • The external LED driver allows for better airflow and heat dissipation than LED tubes' internal drivers, which translates to longer life & increased reliability
  • Most LED retrofit strip kits are eligible for money-saving rebates and incentives offered by utilities, as well as business tax incentives
  • With longer lifespans and easier installs, the labor cost to replace fluorescent light fixtures with LED strips is lower.
Shop magnetic LED light strips

Path 2: 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 ballast-bypass (type B) or dual mode (type A/B) LED tube without rewiring—just pop the tubes in and go
  • Easy install—remove the old fixture, wire and mount this one in its place
  • Clean, new fixtures update the overall look of your workplace
  • Lumens, watts, and lamp life depend on the tubes you purchase for it
  • Rebate eligibility is based on the tubes you purchase for the fixture
Shop LED-ready T8 fixtures

Option 2: Replace your fixtures with LED panel lights or troffers

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; some models 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
  • 50,000-hour average operating life
  • Panels & troffers available with or without DLC listing for utility rebate eligibility
Shop LED Panel Lights & Troffers

Option 3: Replace your fluorescent fixture with a LED fixture

What you need to know:

  • All-in-one design allows for sleeker, slimmer & lighter-weight 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
  • Many of our linear LED fixtures are DLC listed for utility rebate eligibility
Shop linear LED fixtures


Get the most out of your lighting retrofit! If you're upgrading a commercial property, consider taking advantage of our free Lighting Retrofit Project Management services. These services include a lighting performance analysis, a full plan for your retrofit, high quality replacement lights, and management of the overall retrofit project. We even do the legwork to find and apply all financial incentives your upgrade qualifies for, saving you even more money in upfront costs. 

Just have questions for a smaller retrofit project? 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.

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