Can I replace fluorescent tubes with LED versions?

For many years, linear fluorescent lights were in vogue. In fact, they are still one of the most efficient light sources on the market and can boast a decent lifespan and quality light output. T8 fluorescent lamps use about 40% less energy than the T12 lamps that have now been phased out.

Recently, a new option has entered the market which has even greater energy efficiency – the T8 LED.This is mercury-free and(unlike fluorescents)roughly 30% more efficient than T8 linear fluorescent lights; has an average lifespan of 50, 000 hours, compared to the 30,000 hours of an average T8 LFL; is dimmable; offers directional light; works well with controls; and has a shatterproof coating.

It is possible to replace fluorescent tubes with LED. Installing a led tube in place of fluorescent tubes can be as easy as unscrewing the compact fluorescent bulb from the light socket and screwing in a new LED tube. However, some minor tinkering maybe needed.

The ballasts in fluorescent fixtures will damage new straight-LED tubes, although they can physically fit into the fixtures. SomeLED tubes (designed by manufacturers to work with the fluorescent ballast in place) are rather more expensive and far less efficient.

The following steps can be taken to replace a T8 linear fluorescent bulb with the LED version:

  1. Safety measures first

Disconnect the fixture from electricity by turning off the breaker that supplies power to it. To ensure no one turns on the breaker while you’re still working, place a bold note over it explaining that work is in progress. It is possible for an old fluorescent tube to shatter while it’s being replaced. You should therefore wear safety goggles. After removing the tube, it should be disposed of properly,as they contain mercury, which is deemed hazardous.

  1. Remove the ballast

Remove the cover to expose the ballast,which should then be unscrewed from the unit and removed from the fixture wires. Leave enough of the energised and neutral wires from the centre to get to the socket wires. The ballast can then be discarded.

  1. Perform a rewiring

The wires from the fixture and socket should be joined, after which the wiring cover will be replaced. Twisting the wires of the fixture together with the adequately sized wire nuts is the best way to rewire. All the wires from one side should be securely joined with one of the leads from the centre, as well as all the wires from the other end, together with the other lead.

If the replacement LED tubes have both the energised and neutral connections on one side, you’ll need to follow the instructions from the LED bulb manufacturer and rewire the sockets.


  1. Install the LED tubes

Peel off the protective plastic from the LED tubes after taking them out of the packaging and remove the tip guards. They should then be installed into the fixture, just like fixing in a T8LFL, with the LED string facing down and each end inserted into the slots, twisting to secure it into the receptacle.

The breaker box should then be turned on. Finally, test the light to see if it works.