LED-based T8 replacement tubes struggle as fluorescent retrofits (MAGAZINE)

June 14, 2010
Early LED replacements for 4-ft, linear fluorescent T8 tubes don’t deliver sufficient light output to make them cost-effective SSL retrofits, but the products will get better along with LED improvements says MAURY WRIGHT.

The pitch is enticing. Replace your commonly-used 4-ft, linear fluorescent T8 tubes with LED-based solid-state lighting (SSL) technology and save money based on energy usage and maintenance. The long life and energy-saving attributes of LEDs have proven compelling in a number of applications. Unfortunately, early LED T8 retrofit products don’t deliver fluorescent-equivalent light output. Moreover the need in most cases to modify the fluorescent fixture – primarily the removal of the ballast – leaves both technical and regulatory obstacles to widespread LED tube deployment. Indeed LED T8s need a lot of work, but the products will improve as LEDs get brighter and manufacturers optimize both the optics and the drive circuits.

Negative news of LED T8 tubes has arrived regularly and recently directly from the US Department of Energy (DOE). In yet another round of CALiPER (Commercially Available LED Product Evaluation and Reporting) tests, LED-based T8s performed far worse than fluorescent tubes. In his keynote presentation at Lightfair 2010 on May 11, DOE Lighting Program Manager Jim Brodrick stated, “We have yet to test one that works very well. [Relative to fluorescents you get] half the light output and half the efficacy.”


This article was published in the May/June 2010 issue of LEDs Magazine. To read the full version of this article, please visit our magazine page, where you can download FREE electronic PDF versions of all issues of LEDs Magazine. You can also request a print copy of LEDs Magazine (available by paid subscription) and sign up for our free weekly email newsletter.