Access Fixtures sells T5 linear fluorescent lighting and LED flat panel lighting. We sell T8 replacement lamps, but do not sell LED tubes as replacements for T8 fixtures. Why? LED technology is advancing rapidly and has become the ideal solution for many applications like LED wall packs or LED bollard lights, but this is not the case for LED tubes. LED tubes are more expensive and offer few benefits.
The following facts explain why we do not provide LED tubes for T8 retrofits:
- Life: Long product life and lower maintenance is not a reason for T8 LED retrofit lamps. There are T8 lamps available in the marketplace that last for 84,000 hours and far exceed the rated life of retrofit LED tubes.
- Application: LEDs work best when the fixture is designed around the needs of the LED chip for thermal control and light output, not when forced into existing fixture styles like linear fluorescent fixtures.
- Efficiency: T8 LED retrofit tubes use less energy than T8 systems, but only produce a fraction of the amount of light of the T8 systems. Frequently retrofits are not viable solutions as they decrease the light output. If less light is an option, more could be achieved for less by using fewer T8 lamps.
- Lighting: Fluorescent fixtures are not point-source lighting. Fluorescent lighting is used for general illumination as it evenly lights a space. Directional LED tubes may deliver similar foot-candles directly under a fixture, but create significant gaps between fixtures and provides uneven lighting.
- Compatibility: LED tubes are not always compatible with fixture sockets and need to be re-wired in order to make them work in the fixture.
- Safety and UL: While LED retrofit lamps are sometimes UL and DLC approved, this is as an independent product. That does not mean that the luminaire the retrofit LED tubes are being installed in are UL approved for the LED retrofit lamps.
There are few applications where LED tubes may be a better choice, like near food storage where the risk of mercury contamination from fluorescent lighting is extremely dangerous, or in a food cooler as LEDs thrive in cold environments.
Some LED tubes are qualified by the DesignLights Consortium; however, this does not mean they are superior to other lighting solutions. This simply means they meet DLC’s basic requirements for performance and energy efficiency.
The Department of Energy claims that LED tubes are improving, but the cost, life and performance are not yet superior. Although LED tubes are not recommended, other solutions such as LED troffers for grid ceilings are purpose built and work well. For additional savings, they can also handle controls.
If this blog leaves you with more questions than answers, ask an expert at Access Fixtures. A lighting specialist is ready to take your call and answer your questions.