My excitement quickly drained as I realized LED tube technology had not quite reached the level of my expectations. These were not the “new wonderful superbright LED tubes” I was hoping for.
Fast forward five years, SMD LED technology, or surface mounted device -light emitting diode has fully matured and now produces 10 times the lumen output of the DIP , without premature burnout issues. The long length of the tube allows for incorporation of large aluminum heatsink. Unlike DIP, SMD are perfect for automated factories, allowing prices to be a fraction of the original LED tubes.
As governments around the world join together to ban mercury products from the consumer environment, fluorescent and other HID lighting still remains as a source of mercury in our homes offices and ultimately our environment. LED lighting contains no mercury, lead or any toxic materials, LEDs can last up to 10 times longer than standard incandescent light sources and three times longer than the best long life fluorescent tube.
Standard fluorescent tubes use copious amounts of phosphor, to convert ultraviolet light to visible spectrum, LED uses tiny amounts of phosphor to convert blue spectrum LED, to a more comfortable and warmer light. And although the standard 4 foot fluorescent tube may currently costs only one or two dollars, watch for eco-fees when purchasing, and when trying to dispose of mercury laden products.
Installing LED tubes
Some LED tubes claim to simply retrofit into any existing fluorescent fixtures without removing or changing ballasts and starters. There are however different types of ballasts for example there are magnetic and electronic ballasts, some fixtures use an external high-voltage starter, while others incorporate the starter into the ballast. In some cases it is impossible to know how much life the ballast has left before it will need replacement and will a malfunctioning ballast and starter damage sensitive LEDs. For these reasons I do not recommend retrofit fluorescent tubes that do not require removal of ballasts and starter.
Installing line voltage LED tubes
installing LED T8 two that run on line voltage AC is not complicated however we recommend professional installation. The old starter and ballast are simply removed or bypassed, a hot and a neutral lead are connected to one end of the LED tube, that's it! However it will no longer accept traditional fluorescent tubes and should be marked as such. There is much discussion whether this type of rewiring of an existing fixture invalidates its UL listing, check with your local electrician, consult your local bylaws.
T8 LED tubes have matured into a viable lighting technology, anywhere that currently uses 4 foot fluorescent tubes can easily upgrade to LED for very little money.