<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=448100748896598&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">


Practical advice on commercial lighting from LED retrofts to lighting design

How to convert fluorescent tubes to LED [Top replacement options]

Posted by Francine Pitassi on


support image for Factors to consider before you look for a linear fluorescent lamp retrofit article

If you're beginning to consider a linear fluorescent lamp retrofit, knowing where to begin can be overwhelming and unsettling. The lighting industry is packed full of information that's pulling you in multiple directions. But let's be honest – none of us have time for that. 

With my customers, I like to cut to the chase. I follow a simple decision path to find our customers exactly what they need and want. 

LED replacement options for T8 fluorescent tubes

Lowest upfront cost: Anything that's 17 watts or greater

Highest light output: 15 watt lamp

  • This lamp is about $17
  • It has a superior light output at about 2,200 lumens
  • With a 50,000 hour lamp life, over 11 years at burning 12 hours per day, 7 days per week, this lamp will give good maintenance savings
  • This lamp gives good energy savings

Most energy efficient: 12 watt lamp

  • This lamp is about $13
  • At 1,600 lumens, this lamp has a medium light output
  • The 12 watt lamp lasts about 50,000 hours, giving good maintenance savings and lasting anywhere from 11 years, when you're running it 12 hours per day, 7 days per week
  • This lamp gives the best energy savings over linear fluorescent

Should you actually make the leap to LED? Maybe not. Here's an objective look at your linear options: "Linear LED vs. linear fluorescent: A look at the pros and cons of linear tubes"

The best LED replacements for your T8 fluorescents

The first step is to simply identify the environment that this potential retrofit will be going into. If you're retrofitting a back-of-house or storage area, you don't need a lamp with a high light output.

However, if you're retrofitting a commercial office building or a space that gets frequently used, we recommend a lamp with higher light output. 

If you're ready to make a retrofit decision, following these tips may be helpful in your decision-making process.

1. Upfront cost of retrofitting to LED

I constantly get asked, "Have prices gone down?" Yes, they have. And there's no better time to retrofit than now.

No matter your budget, there really is a linear LED lamp that can work well for your retrofit. At this point in the retrofit journey, you want to determine your budget and how much you want to spend.

Want to know how to upgrade to LED on a tight budget? You may find this video helpful.

Once you've established the application and budget, it really boils down to your primary goal in retrofitting.

2. Energy and maintenance savings from an LED retrofit

If you're looking to retrofit an area that has 24/7 burn or is hard to reach, using a lamp with a longer lifespan may be your next priority. 

Besides retrofitting to energy efficient LEDs, I also like to recommend group relamping to my customers. By replacing bulbs in larger groups, you can save time and energy – changing out light bulbs on a regular basis and begin benefitting from the energy savings immediately. 

(If you've never heard about this process I'd be happy to explain it to you.)

3. Light output and delivered lumens matter

If you maintain a commercial office building and need to properly and completely light a space, light output may be a higher priority to consider than maximum wattage reduction. You want bright lighting that will make people comfortable in their work environment.

Properly lighting a space is about more than just pumping light out of fixtures. It's about delivering that light to the surface needing it. Read more about this in our post, "Focus on delivered lumens and footcandles, not just lumens, to increase brightness."

Final decision: Converting fluorescent to LED

At this point you've identified the environment you're considering for the linear fluorescent retrofit, you've identified your budget for the project, and you've noted if burn hours are more important or if light output is more important.

Now it's time to pull it all together to figure out which lamp type you need. These aren't one-size-fits-all recommendations, but they will give you a great place to start in making product selection a little less overwhelming.

Application Recommendation
Back of house/storage/stairwell 17 watt lamp
Commercial office building 15 watt lamp
Hospital/retirement home 12 watt lamp
Parking garage 12 watt lamp

The linear lighting playbook: A game plan for retrofitting from fluorescent to LED

Now that you've checked off everything on your consideration list it's time to begin your project. Like most things, the best thing to do at this point is to align yourself with a reputable manufacturer. 

Download: 9 Questions to Ask a Lighting Manufacturer Checklist

As you start investing in your new project, you want a company that has a reliable warranty and stands behind their product in case any issues arise along the way.

Moreover, you want to make sure you're spending your project capital wisely – beginning retrofits in a high-impact area before tackling other parts of your space. 

We put together our Linear Lighting Playbook to help our customers form a winning game plan for their linear lighting. We have six versions of the playbook, for six different applications:

  • Commercial Offices
  • Medical Centers
  • Parking Garage
  • Restaurants
  • Retail Stores
  • Warehouses

Download yours today to win with linear lighting tomorrow.