If you walk into a building, whether it’s an office, school, library, or store, you are likely to see fluorescent lighting if you look up. You may even notice a few bulbs burnt out, or some flickering on their last legs. What you can’t see is that the bulb is actually fine, and it’s the ballast that has gone bad. The ballast is the metal fixture that encases the fluorescent tubes, and they require just as much maintenance as burnt out bulbs.
When installing LED linear tubes to replace fluorescent lights, there are a few options for what to do with the ballast. Some companies will direct fit the lights to the ballast, essentially just replacing the tube. At Sitler’s, we believe in bypassing the ballast, further reducing your energy and maintenance costs. Keep reading to discover why we think it’s the best option for you!
So what is the issue with ballasts? They are necessary for fluorescent lighting, but also cause issues of their own. The ballast itself can go bad, which causes lights to flicker or even appear to be burnt out, when in fact they aren’t. They require maintenance and energy to power, on top of the power used to light the fluorescent bulb. They are a large part of the equation when using fluorescent lamps.
LED direct fit linear lamps are an easy way to upgrade your lighting and save on energy with little to no effort. The lights may shine brightly at first, but you will begin to notice flickering or “burnt” out lights soon enough. If you installed direct fit LED lights and kept the ballast intact, what you are seeing is in fact a bad ballast, not a bad bulb. LED light bulbs are great because they have a life of 50,000 hours. If you see bulbs out after months or even a few years, it’s likely to be a ballast issue, not a bulb issue.
No matter how new or well maintained your ballasts are, they will all eventually go bad.This means taking apart the entire fixture to replace an expensive ballast. When installing LEDs, we bring in electricians to rewire the fixture to bypass the ballast. This leaves your fixture intact and looking the same, but takes bad ballasts out of your maintenance equation. When an LED bulb does burn out (between 15-20 years in most cases) you simply replace the bulb, which is much more cost-effective and less time consuming than replacing an entire ballast.
LEDS in and of themselves are much more efficient than fluorescent bulbs. Unlike fluorescent tubes, LEDs don’t require a ballast to regulate current. When using direct fit LEDs, the ballast is still using energy and eating into your possible energy savings. With a ballast bypass, you are only paying for the energy the LED lights use, which is up to 70% less than traditional bulbs!