The Best Way to Upgrade Office Lights to LED:
Retrofit or New Fixtures?
If your office is still running old, inefficient fluorescent tubes, it’s time to upgrade the lighting in your drop ceiling to LEDs. Making the switch can easily save you 50% or more in lighting energy overhead! Even if you are running LEDs, but they are over 5 years old, it may be worthwhile to swap them out for updated LED lamps or fixtures (learn more about when to upgrade LED lights). But what is the best upgrade to make – LED retrofits or all-new fixtures?
Comparison: LED Retrofit vs. Fixture Replacement
Retrofitting drop ceiling lights typically consists of converting existing fluorescent troffers from running fluorescent tubes to instead running LED tubes or LED strips. If your existing ceiling fixtures are in good shape and you’re happy with their placement, LED retrofits could be a good option for you.
LED Retrofit Options for Drop Ceiling Fixtures:
2ft and 4ft LED tubes are a great, low cost upgrade for existing troffers. Since they look like fluorescents, tubes allow for an upgrade that is visually similar to what you already have. With tube replacements, you will choose either ballast-bypass or ballast-compatible lamps. Ballast-bypass tubes will provide higher efficiency and lower maintenance while ballast-compatible will have a quicker, plug-and-play installation.
- Average Cost: $8 - $15 per tube
- Main Benefits: Traditional Look and Affordability
We offer 2x2 and 2x4 magnetic LED strips kits that are easy to install in office fixtures. LED retrofit strip kits do require bypassing your fixture’s ballast, but installation goes more quickly than with replacement tubes because only the driver needs to be wired (not individual tombstones). Strips also allow for more flexibility of adding more or fewer strips as desired per fixture. Retrofit strips have the additional benefit of an external driver for easy maintenance.
- Average Cost: $40 - $60 per kit
- Main Benefits: Easy to Upkeep and Lots of Flexibility
LED Fixture Replacement Options for Drop Ceiling Fixtures:
Depending on your style preference, you will choose between LED Panels and LED Troffers for your fixture upgrade. These come standard in 2x4, 2x2, and 1x4 sizes, as well as a variety of special-order dimensions.
Installing brand-new LED drop ceiling lights provides an opportunity to rethink the overall performance of your lighting and change the placement, size, and number of fixtures to meet your current needs. New LED fixtures are often brighter than old fluorescent fixtures while using a fraction of the energy. This could mean you won’t need as many fixtures as you had previously, saving you on upfront, labor, and energy costs!
Also, it may sound counter-intuitive, but fully replacing a fluorescent fixture with a new LED fixture is as easy as—or often easier than—retrofitting one. This is because there’s actually more wiring involved when doing a retrofit project. When retrofitting a fixture, the ballast has to be bypassed and the sockets rewired. With a total replacement, you just take out the old fixture and wire the new one in.
- Average Cost: $50-$200 per fixture
- Main Benefits: Modern Upgrade and Simple to Install
Green Lighting Tip: Fluorescent tubes should be disposed of as hazardous waste. So, as you are giving your old fixtures an upgrade, make sure to pick up a recycling kit to get rid of your fluorescent tubes properly!
Get Started with Your LED Retrofit or New Fixture Project!
Now that you know the pros and cons of retrofitting versus replacing old fixtures, let us lend a hand. We have helped upgrade the lighting in offices, gyms, hospitals, and many other commercial locations with drop ceilings across the USA. If your business is looking for an efficiency upgrade, we’re ready to provide high-quality LED lighting solutions supported by top-notch customer service! Reach out today at the contact info below or by filling out our simple request form.