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LED Tubes

LED Tube Lights and LED Tube Replacements

We offer top quality T5 and T8 LED tubes for offices, garages, and other commercial lighting needs. Our tubes can replace or retrofit existing fluorescents and come in virtually any wattage. Browse our selection by length, wattage, or Kelvin temperature.

Different Types of LED Tube Lights

Navigating the LED tube market is often highly confusing due to the many variations in length, color, operation, etc. This page provides a simplified overview on LED tubes so you can determine the best option for your individual lighting needs.

To provide a brief overview, LED tubes can be categorized by several factors including,

  • Length (i.e. 3 ft. 4 ft.)
  • Diameter (i.e. T8, T5)
  • Color Temperature (i.e. 5000 Kelvin, 4000 Kelvin)
  • Operation (i.e. Plug-n-Play, Direct Wire)
  • Brightness (Wattage / Lumen Output)

Understanding LED Tube Sizes

There are a variety of LED tube sizes based on both length and diameter. When it comes to length, the most common type is by far 4 ft. LED T8 Tubes.

Longer tube lengths are typically not recommended as these are fairly inefficient due to unnecessary energy consumption.

When it comes to diameter, the most common tubes are T8 tubes followed by T5’s and T12’s. Here’s a simple breakdown of LED tubes based on diameter.

T8 = 1 inch diameter
T5 = 0.625 inch diameter (5/8 inch)
T12 = 1.5 inch diameter

It’s important to note, T8’s and T12’s are often used interchangeably provided they’re compatible with the existing ballast. We suggest checking the milliamp (mA) requirements of the ballast prior to installation.

Understanding Lamp Types (Plug-n-Play, Direct Wire, Hybrid)

When it comes to installation, it’s important to understand whether or not the tube has a ballast and if it’s compatible with your existing lighting fixture. If you’re replacing existing fluorescent bulbs, certain fixtures will require retrofitting and other custom electrical work before your LEDs can be properly installed. In this section we’re going to break down the difference between direct wire v.s plug-n-play tubes and explain what these differences entail.

Direct wire LED tubes run directly off voltage from the sockets. In other words they’re installed without an electrical ballast which is a device used to limit electrical current flowing through the tube.

On the other hand, plug-n-play LED tubes are designed with an internal ballast that is compatible with the fixtures existing fluorescent ballast without the need of retrofitting or custom electrical work.

Type A - Type A tubes are plug-n-play tubes and are generally compatible with ballasts; however, there are certain exceptions so it’s important to check product specifications and ballast compatibility prior to purchasing a replacement for your fluorescent lamps

Type B - Type B tubes are direct-wire lights that are incompatible with electrical ballasts. In order to install Type B tubes, the ballast will need to be uninstalled from the fixture. In some cases, the electrical sockets will need to be replaced as well in order to ensure the tubes can be wired so that they obtain power directly from the line voltage.

Type A/B - Type A/B tubes are hybrids in that they can operate with a ballast or directly connect to the line voltage. It’s important to note that not every type A/B tube will be compatible with every ballast so checking product specifications is still important prior to making a purchase.

Diagram showing the difference in installation between type A and B LED tube lights

Understanding Color Temperature

Another way LED tubes are differentiated is by their color temperature which is measured in Kelvins. Although the color temperature scale can range from 1,000K to 10,000K, we’re going to talk about the most common and practical color temperatures for tube lighting purposes.

3000K LED Tubes - 3000K is a warm white color that provides a relaxing feel. These are generally ideal for waiting rooms, restaurants, or any area where providing a pleasant ambiance is a priority.

4000K LED Tubes - 4000K is a natural white color that’s popular for general purpose lighting and illumination in industrial areas such as workshops or warehouses. Considered to be the goldilocks zone of color temperatures, it provides good visibility while still being easy on the eyes.

5000K LED Tubes - Bright daylight color that’s ideal for applications where maximum visibility is the top priority. This color temperature is the most popular choice for garages, storage facilities, parking structures, and any other area where lighting accuracy, safety and precision is a priority.

The picture below illustrates the differences in color temperature and provides an idea of what each type of LED tube looks like.

LED tube color temperatures showing 3000K warm white, 4000K natural white, 5000K daylight

Understanding Brightness (Wattage & Lumen Output)

LED lights require a fraction of the energy used by traditional lighting technologies such as fluorescent to produce the same amount of light, measured in lumens. When trying to choose the appropriate brightness for your lighting application, it’s best to determine the desired lumen output as opposed to watts.

Selecting the right wattage is critical to ensure not only proper lighting for an area, but also to maximize energy efficiency. When combined with a comprehensive photometric plan tailored for the specific application, end users will enjoy optimal performance and the full potential LED technology has to offer. Considering the long lifespan of LED tubes, it is important to get this right from the start.

LED v.s Fluorescent Tubes

Four lighting fixtures with fluorescent tubes providing dim illumination to a garage workshop area before switching to LED T8 strip fixtures
Three LED strip lighting fixtures providing bright illumination to a garage workshop area after replacing the old fluorescent fixtures

Tube lighting has been the dominant lighting choice for commercial and industrial applications for decades. These lights, invented in 1903, have usually been of the fluorescent type. Fluorescent lights are low-pressure mercury vapor gas discharge lights, which generate their illumination by running an electric current through mercury vapor, causing it to generate short wave ultraviolet (UV) light. This UV light then excites the phosphor inside the tube, causing it to glow which produces the actual visible light.

While fluorescent tubes have been the default lighting option for nearly a century, they have begun to be surpassed if not replaced by LED tube lights. There are big differences between these two types of tube lights, most of which surround costs and the quality of the actual light produced. On paper fluorescent tubes and lighting systems are far less expensive than LED options, which encourages many buyers to choose this option. However, this is a false economy as fluorescent tubes have a far shorter lifespan than LED tubes.

The best one can expect out of fluorescent tubes is a lifespan of around 30,000 hours, whereas LED tubes typically last 50,000 hours or more. LEDs are not as sensitive to temperature extremes and on/off cycling as their fluorescent counterparts, which is in large part the reason for their far better lifespan consistency and improved resilience.

LED bulbs also have far superior energy consumption when compared to fluorescent tube lights. In fact, LEDs are about 20% or more energy efficient than a comparable fluorescent while producing the same amount of light (lumens). The energy-efficiency and cost savings of LED tubes v.s fluorescent tube lamps are demonstrated in a Scientific World Journal published by the NCBI. According to the study,

“In current market variable LED tubes are available which offer light output levels similar to 36W fluorescent tubes. By substituting a 36W T8 fluorescent tube by a 19W LED tube can save up to 48%” (NCBI, 2014, Cost-Benefit Analysis and Emission Reduction of Energy Efficient Lighting at the Universiti Tenaga Nasional)

Finally, the last difference between fluorescent and LED tubes is the quality of the light produced. Lighting quality is quantified using the Color Rendering Index (CRI), which measures a light's accuracy in reproducing color. This scale ranges from zero to 100 - the higher the rating, the more accurate the light. For reference, natural sunlight and incandescent bulbs have a CRI of 100. Fluorescent tubes typically have a CRI of up to 70, whereas LED tubes range between 80-95. While it might not seem like a big difference on paper, in reality it makes a noticeable difference in visibility. The dramatically improved visibility from higher CRI lighting not only improves workplace safety, but also makes for a more pleasant environment for customers and employees alike - contributing to better efficiency and sales.

LED T8 Bulbs

LED T8 lights are commonly used in office lighting fixtures such as troffers. In general, these bulbs are ideal for indoor commercial lighting applications such as office buildings, storage facilities, and garages. LED T8 bulbs are ideal for these applications due to the high energy efficiency, low maintenance, and long lasting life. T8 tubes are most ideal in climate controlled environments with standard ceiling heights.

Many businesses are switching from T8 fluorescent tubes to LEDs due to the improved energy-efficiency along with a variety of other benefits. When it comes to indoor facilities with standard ceiling heights, 4 ft. tubes with 1800 Lumens or less are most ideal. For taller ceilings that require high bay lighting, you’ll want to use tubes that have more than 2000 Lumens in order to ensure adequate illumination.

LED Tube Light Resources

In this episode:

  • [0:46] Fluorescent v.s LEDs - What is an LED Tube Light v.s Fluorescent Tube Light, which one is better, etc.
  • [2:55] Types of LED Tubes - Breaks down Type A / Type B / A+B Hybrids.
  • [8:12] LED Tube Sizes - T12 / T8 / T5, and different lengths.
  • [11:00] Color Temperature (Kelvin) - Explaining the difference between the different kelvin temperatures of LED bulbs (3000K, 4000K, 5000K, etc)
  • [15:50] Brightness - Wattage/Lumens/Foot Candles
  • [23:30] Wiring / Retrofitting LED Tubes
  • [26:18] Common Questions about LED Tube Lights