Since its introduction in 1981, the T8 fluorescent lamp has been the standard linear and u-shape lamp for new construction, predominantly used in indoor commercial spaces. But as LED technology continues to overtake the industry, many contractors and retrofitters are now asking this question: what options are there when I replace T8s with LEDs?
The answer is there are three ways. You can replace fluorescent T8 tubes with three types of LED T8 tubes, known as Type A, Type B, and Type C. Here’s the lowdown on each so you know which type of LED T8 to use for your next project:
Type A LED T8 Tubes
The Type A LED T8 tube is designed to be compatible with existing linear fluorescent ballasts. This is possible because it has an integrated driver that operates directly with the ballast. Since Type A LED T8s work with the existing ballast, they can be swapped easily with the current fluorescent tubes, making installation easy and requires no electrical modifications. This means Type A LED T8s are the perfect choice for relamp projects–a clear favorite for retrofitters.
Tip: Before deciding on a Type A LED T8, make sure you check its ballast compatibility list; this ensures it will work with the ballast you intend to use it with.
TYPE B LED T8 Tubes
Type B LED Tubes also have an integrated driver, but instead of being regulated by a ballast, it is a direct wire lamp that is powered from the voltage supplied to the linear fluorescent fixture. Since installation involves only wiring the lamp directly, there won’t be any ballast compatibility issues and any future ballast replacement costs don’t need to be factored. However, a little extra caution and work is required of the electrician to remove existing ballasts and replace sockets with un-shunted sockets. Type B LED Tubes are a good choice for installers who have clients that worry about future maintenance costs and don’t want to replace ballasts ever again.
TYPE C LED T8 Tubes
Type C LED Tubes have one key feature that differs from both TYPE A and TYPE B: it has a remote driver. One driver, which can be mounted on the existing linear fluorescent fixture powers several TYPE C lamps; these lamps typically offer the best efficacy and compatibility with better dimming and controls functionality. But they are more expensive and have added installation costs, so Type C tubes are only used when installers have clients willing to bear the costs because they require the added functionalities.
What Type Are You?
With so many offices still almost exclusively illuminated using fluorescent T8s and most building owners opting to retrofit, what type are you most likely to recommend when asked to replace fluorescent tubes with LED?