In the last several years, one of the most popular lighting conversions that has taken place has been the process of converting linear fluorescent to LED. That said, there have been some complications that have made it difficult for end users to make this happen. Today we’re going to look at one specific area that has been difficult for some and that is replacing 8′ linear fluorescents (F96T8, F96T12, etc) with LED.
One of the big factors with replacing 8 foot fluorescents is that there aren’t reliable 8′ LED T8 lamps that are ballast-compatible for a quick switch. Every option involves at least some re-wiring. You may see some 8′ LED T8/T12 lamps that say you can just pop them in and that they’ll be compatible with the existing electronic/magnetic ballast, but they are likely direct from China and aren’t to be trusted.
Option #1 – Convert 8′ Fluorescent Fixtures to 4′ 2-lamp or 4-lamp
If it is at all possible, we advise converting your 8′ fluorescent T8/T12 fixtures to allow for 4′ LED T8 lamps to be installed. These T8 retrofit kits will convert your 8′ 1-lamp fluorescent fixture to 4′ 2-lamp, and your 8′ 2-lamp fluorescent fixture to 4′ 4-lamp. Once this is done, most choose to go with 4′ Type B LED T8 lamps. This conversion process will work for most but may not for certain fixture types (like sign lighting or a vaportight). Why is it so beneficial to convert to 4′? It is much easier to deal with a 4′ LED T8 in terms of install/shipment and you will have far more choices as far as wattage/lumen packages, color temps, etc.
Option #2 – Replacing F96T8 Single-Pin with Type B 8′ LED T8
This is probably the easiest way to retrofit an 8′ T8 fluorescent but there are still some variables in play. Due to the difficulty of shipping a lamp this size you are likely to have to buy by the case, which can be anywhere from 10 to 25 lamps depending on the manufacturer. The good news is you should have comparable or better light levels while saving 50%+ on energy. You will also be dealing with the same Fa8 single-pin base. Make sure you purchase a Single-Pin 8′ Type B LED T8 from a reliable manufacturer that offers a 50,000 hour lamp with a 5 year warranty and look to see that the lamp has an efficacy of 120 lumens/watt or higher.
To install, you will have to bypass the ballast and wire direct to line voltage. If you want to make this job easier you might consider purchasing a pre-wired socket kit like this Keystone Fa8 Wiring Harness.
Option #3 – Replacing F96T8HO/F96T12HO with an R17d Base Type B 8′ LED T8
F96T8HO and F96T12HO 8′ fluorescent lamps are commonly found in signs. If you have retrofitted one of these 8′ fluorescents in a sign to an 8′ LED, you know it is next to impossible to change the sockets. There simply isn’t enough room in the fixture and thus Option #1 with the single-pin lamps will not work. You need an 8′ LED T8 with the same R17d recessed base so you can utilize the existing sockets. You will still need to bypass the ballast and wire direct, but you won’t need to install a new LED driver to power the 8′ LED. Again, look for an R17d Base 8′ LED T8 that has a 50,000 hour life span with a 5 year manufacturer warranty.
Option #4 – Replacing F96T8 Single-Pin with Type C 8′ LED T8
This is similar to Option #2, but there are some interesting differences for those who like added controls. As with all Type C methods, the 8′ Type C LED T8 lamps will be powered by an external LED driver. This is an added cost to the system but also reduces the heat load that the lamps take on. The prime reason to go this route over Option #2 would be if you wanted 0-10V dimming. The standard LED driver used to power 2 Type C 8′ LED T8 lamps is a dimming driver that is compatible with most 0-10V dimmers. You will need to purchase the 0-10V dimmer separately so the costs can add up, but you will have a smooth dimming system once finished.
Option #5 – Replacing F96T8/F96T8HO/F96T12 with new LED Fixtures
Maybe you are looking to completely transform your application and get new LED fixtures installed. While the cost will be highest, this option will yield the best results from superior light levels to added controls. Determining the best LED fixture for your particular situation will be key. Possibly you are replacing 8 foot fluorescents in a highbay application and need an LED Highbay Fixture, or maybe you are looking to replace 8′ fluorescent strip lighting with new LED strip fixtures.
As you can see, there are numerous ways to improve your lighting from 8′ fluorescent to LED. Another thing to keep in mind throughout all of this is that your energy company likely offers rebates for some or all of these options, which may help sway your choice. If you have any questions on all of this, contact Premier Lighting today and we’ll help find the best method for you.