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LED Tubes

LED Tubes

Shop LED Tubes from Lightup.com! We offer a wide selection of energy efficient and cost saving LED tubes from top brands like LumeGen, Euri Lighting, GE, Keystone, Sylvania and more! Many of the LED Tubes we offer are DLC rated, offering the opportunity to gain additional utility-funded rebates. Learn more about rebates on our Utility Rebate Information Page.

What are LED Tubes?

LED Tubes are linear LED lamps which replace traditional linear fluorescent lamps in many commercial and residential fixtures. Linear lamps provide even, uniform illumination over narrow areas compared to other forms of lighting. The fixtures which use these lamps are typically long in length and installed from the ceiling or wall. This form of lighting has become increasingly popular due to its flexibility, excellent performance, and smooth aesthetic appeal.

Linear LED tubes can illuminate areas which are difficult to illuminate with non-linear light sources like a standard screw-in light bulb. Long spaces such as aisles, warehouse bays, or bays of office cubicles are perfect application for linear LED tubes as they can provide uniform illumination over the long spaces.

LED tubes are used commonly to retrofit fluorescent fixtures or can be used in certain new fixtures. They come in a range of lengths from 18" up to 8' and diameters from T5 and T8s with different lumen packages available to meet the demands of any space. They typically install into troffers, strip lights, wrap lights, under cabinet lights, and high bays

What are the advantages of LED vs Fluorescent Tubes?

Fluorescent Tubes have been around forever and have worked great in the past so you may wonder what the advantage of switching to LED tubes would be. Making the switch from using linear fluorescent tubes to LED tubes can provide you with energy savings and maintenance savings. They also don't use any harmful chemicals like fluorescent tubes.

LED Energy Savings

The most important factor for most people to make the switch is the energy savings you can realize after making the switch. The energy savings from LEDs compared to fluorescents isn't as high as the savings between LED and halogen, or LED and incandescent however, you can expect a 40 to 60 percent savings in energy costs. For example, a 32W 48in T8 fluorescent tube produces roughly 2400 initial lumens while a comparable LED tube that produces 2400 lumens uses only 18W which is a 43% energy savings for the same amount of light. With a building full of linear fixtures, the energy savings could really add up quickly!

LED Maintenance Savings

Another important factor when considering LED tubes is maintenance costs. Most buildings which use linear lighting require several linear tubes to fill all of the sockets. It is pretty common for large buildings to have over 100 fixtures with each fixture requiring 3 or 4 linear tubes per fixture! You can see how having to change 100s of bulbs could be a time-consuming task. LED tubes typically last at least 50,000 operational hours while the fluorescent tubes average out around 20,000 hours.

Another thing to consider with fluorescent tubes is the light lose over time. Since fluorescent tubes produce light via heating up the gas in the tube, that means over time, fluorescent lamps almost always experience color variation and fading. At different stages of the fluorescent lamp's life, different light brightness and color will be produced causing unsightly dark spots and inconsistent lighting in the space. LEDs are proven to maintain their color and brightness for the length of the rated life of the LED. So for a 50,000 hour rated LED tube, it will only start experiencing diminishing light output after the 50,000 hours of operation.

How does led lights help the environment?

LED Tubes contain no mercury compared to fluorescent tubes. LED tubes are easier to discard without special drop off locations compared to fluorescent. All fluorescent tubes contain some level of mercury for them to work.

LED Color Temperatures and Brightness

The spice of life, variety, LED tubes are extremely versatile and come in many different configurations that can produce many different color temperatures and brightness of light compared to fluorescent tubes. LED tubes come in color temperatures from warm white 3000K, to Bright White 4000K, Daylight 5000K, and some as high as pure white 6000K. LED tubes can also come in a range of brightness with some producing more light than your traditional fluorescent tubes. Some LED tubes are also configured with wattage adjustable switch which allows the user to select between multiple wattage outputs thus affecting the amount of light it produces.

LEDs can be Shatterproof

Fluorescent tubes mainly consisted of glass lens with the gas inside. The glass makes traditional fluorescent tubes very fragile and subject to breakage without special tube guards or wire guards. The toxic chemicals in fluorescent tubes is not something you want to break and breathe in. LED tubes can be constructed with glass lens or shatterproof plastic lens. Some LEDs even have aluminum back with plastic front for additional strength.

What types of LED Tubes are available?

Now that we know what LED tubes are and their advantages over fluorescent tubes, let's check out the different types of LED tubes available and what they mean. Traditional fluorescent tubes came in different diameters to produce different light amounts: T5, T8, T12 were the 3 most common diameters. Outside of that, the only other things you would need to know is the wattage required and desired color temperature then you were set to make your buying decision for a fluorescent tube.

LED tubes add a few more factors to that equation of finding the perfect LED tube for you. There are not only different diameters but also different lens material (glass, plastic, or plastic + aluminum) as well as different power types available.

So, why are there so many different options for LED available when fluorescent tubes only has a few? The answer is simply LEDs tubes are primarily a retrofit solution for fluorescent fixtures. What this means is these LED tubes were specially designed to work with fluorescent ballasts which were designed to run fluorescent tubes. The ballasts in fluorescent fixtures are designed to power fluorescent fixtures only! A fluorescent ballast limits the flow of current into a fluorescent tube since the tube cannot operate directly off the electrical supply of a building. Ballasts have changed and become more efficient over time and since there are many types of ballasts on the market, LED manufacturers came up with several ways to retrofit LEDs to work with the different types of ballasts or fixtures. Some fluorescent ballasts simply cannot power an LED tube and require a direct wire installation. Below are the 4 main types of LED Tubes and what they mean:

Type A - Ballast Compatible LED Tubes

Type A Tubes are the easiest and quickest installation for LED Tubes. Type A tubes are ballast compatible meaning they work directly off the fluorescent ballast without having to rewire or adjust the fixture. Simply plug and play.

The downside to Type A LED tubes is that they don't work with every fluorescent ballast out there. It is very important that you check the ballast compatibility list for each Type A LED tube and ensure the fluorescent ballast that is in the fixture you intend to install the Type A LED is listed on the ballast compatibility chart. Installing a Type A LED Tube into a fixture with a non-compatible ballast can cause serious safety issues including starting a fire.

Type A Tubes are perfect for quick re-lamps which require no professional electricians to wire the tube and a small investment upfront. This is best if the ballast is less than 5 years old. If the ballast is older, it may be worth using a Type B LED tube since the ballast would be closer to it's end of life after 5 years. Otherwise, you can replace the old ballast with a newer, compatible ballast and continue using the Type A LED tubes into the future.

Shop Type A - Ballast Compatible LED Tubes on Lightup!

Type B - Direct Wire or Ballast Bypass LED Tubes

Type B Tubes, also known as Direct Wire Tubes or Ballast Bypass Tubes, require the existing fluorescent ballast be cut out of the circuit and neutral and hot lines wired directly to the sockets which hold the Type B LED Tubes. LED Type B Tubes come with an internal driver which is powered directly from the main electrical system in the building. This makes Type B LED Tubes more energy efficient LED Tube compared to Type A LED Tubes.

Type B Tubes is a more simple LED Tube installation than Type A LED Tubes because you don't have to worry about ballast compatibility. This can save hassle trying to find the right Type A LED Tube to work with your existing ballast and will also save you future maintenance cost on having to replace the ballast in the future if the ballast were to burn out.

Another thing to consider with Type B LED Tubes is the power configuration. Type B Tubes can have power configured to either a single-end, double-end, or both single-end and double-end. This is important to note because if the tube is single-end power, you will need to replace one of the tombstone sockets on the fluorescent fixture to a non-shunted socket.

Single-Ended Power Tubes have neutral and live pins on the same side of the tube and require non-shunted sockets. The other end of the tube is not energized and the socket is there just to hold the bulb in place on the non-energized side.

Single Ended

Double-Ended Power Tubes have neutral and live pins on opposite ends of the tube and can work with the tombstone sockets that are in the existing fixture.

Double-Ended

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Some Type B Tubes can be configured as single-ended or double-ended power.

Type B Tubes are ideal for large retrofit projects where professional electricians are available to install them. Since Type B tubes bypass the ballast, line voltage is supplied directly to the sockets of a fixture which houses a Type B tube and poses an electrocution safety risk for replacing the Type B tubes in the future. It is recommended that a licensed electrician installs and replaces Type B lamps due to the safety concerns. However, Type B Tubes offer the least compatibility issues and cut out the cost of purchasing a driver or new ballast and operate at higher efficacies than Type A Tubes.

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Type A + B - Universal LED Tubes

Universal Type A + B LED Tubes are the most versatile LED Tubes on the market currently. They can be configured to work as plug and play Type A as long as a compatible ballast is present or they can be hardwired for ballast bypass in the event on an incompatible ballast. This allows you to purchase a tube without worrying if it will work with the ballast because if it does not, you can simply bypass the ballast and still use the tube. It will be vital that you check the ballast compatibility chart for the LED tube prior to installing it as Type A due to safety concerns mentioned in the Type A section.

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Type C - Remote Driver

Type C tubes require a separate LED driver to be installed in place of a fluorescent ballast. This type of LED Tube offers the best total system efficacy, total system compatibility and greatest overall performance. They can be equipped with dimming functions, control functions, and reduced maintenance over the life of the system.

Shop Type C - Remote Driver LED Tubes on Lightup!

Which is better? Glass or Plastic LED tubes?

Another important factor to consider when purchasing an LED Tube is the material of the lens. Fluorescent Tubes were traditionally made with a glass lens which housed the gas because glass allows more light thru than other materials.

Since LEDs can be configured with more brightness, the materials that the lens are made of can be glass or plastic. Glass tubes are fragile but let more light through which is their main advantage. Less LED tubes are made with glass lens because of how fragile they are and how hard the LED diodes are to look at through a clear glass lens that make unsightly hotspots. Fluorescent tubes don't have to worry about hotspots since it relies on gas to produce light evenly throughout the tube whereas the LED tubes rely on multiple individual LED chips lined in a row.

Plastic LED tubes are more common with some tubes being composed of entirely plastic lens all around the tube (PC) and other having a plastic lens bottom with an aluminum back (PC+AL). Plastic lens are often frosted to help diffuse the light and prevent hotspots with LEDs. They are also shatterproof making them safer to use in many locations without the fear of easy breakage. Some plastic tubes are also NSF rated and safe for use in locations where food is processed. One downside to some plastic tubes is the yellowing over time if the proper plastic is not used.

How to pick an LED Tube that will work for me?

Now that we have gone over all of the information about the different types of LED tubes and their advantages, let's take a look at what questions to ask when buying an LED tube for a fluorescent retrofit scenario:

1. What type of bulb is currently in the fixture? Knowing the wattage, lumen output, length, and color temperature are all important factors and a good place to start when looking for a suitable replacement.

2. What type of Fluorescent Ballast is in the fixture? Note the manufacturer, model number, number of tubes, start type, and voltage of the ballast that is currently in the fixture you wish to re-lamp. Depending on what ballast you have will largely determine which type of tube to purchase.

3. How old is the ballast in the fixture? If the ballast is older than 5 years, it may be getting close to the end of it's life and need replaced. If that is the case, a Type B bulb may make the most sense so you can forgo the cost of a new ballast and just install the LED tube as ballast bypass.

4. Who is installing the tubes? Type B and Type C Tubes are highly recommended for licensed electricians to install safely. If you are not planning on hiring an electrician to install the tubes, it is highly advised to go with the Type A tubes which are plug & play.

For more info on LED Tubes, check out our blog post discussing The Differences Between LED Power Tubes.

Have a Large Project? Check our Contractor Packs and Wholesale Options!

If you have a large project and need a lot of tubes, we have a large selection of contractor pack LED tubes which come in cases of 20 or 25. These packs are conveniently packed to ensure safe shipping and are often lower price per tube than purchasing them individually.

Lightup has a great wholesale team that is ready to answer any product or pricing questions that you might have. We offer wholesale pricing to larger customers, including construction companies, electrical distributors, contractors and installers, lighting retailers and major corporations. We accept purchase orders over $1,000 subject to credit approval.

Wholesale Contact Information:

New to LED lighting terminology? Check out our Glossary of Terms or visit our LED Video Library to see different installation methods for each type of LED tube.