How to Change Fluorescent to LED

Upgrading from fluorescent to LED lighting delivers impressive benefits including energy savings, improved durability, and better light quality. With fluorescent tubes becoming obsolete, many homeowners and businesses are converting to more efficient LED technology. This comprehensive guide provides step-by-step instructions for retrofitting fluorescent fixtures to LED in residential, commercial, and industrial settings.

Overview of Upgrading from Fluorescent to LED

Switching from fluorescent to LED offers these advantages:

  • Energy savings – Use 50-70% less electricity than fluorescent lighting.
  • Longer lifespan – LEDs last 50,000+ hours compared to 20,000 for fluorescents.
  • Enhanced durability – LEDs have no fragile glass and resist impacts.
  • Better light quality – LEDs offer even illumination without flickering or humming.
  • Reduced maintenance – Far fewer lamp replacements required over time.
  • Mercury free – LEDs eliminate hazardous mercury waste disposal.
  • Rebates – Utility company rebates offset upfront retrofit costs.

While fluorescent-to-LED retrofits require some investment, the upgrade pays for itself through dramatic energy savings over time.

Planning a Fluorescent to LED Lighting Retrofit

Careful planning ensures a smooth fluorescent-to-LED conversion:

  • Survey – Audit all existing fluorescent fixtures and note lamp types, ballast info, and fixture conditions.
  • Electrical considerations – Calculate total wattage change and check circuit capacity for LEDs.
  • Permitting – Obtain permit if required when altering electrical wiring.
  • Rebates – Research available utility rebates and submit required paperwork.
  • Environmental impact – Properly recycle old fluorescent tubes and ballasts.
  • Layout – Develop new lighting layout for optimal LED placement.
  • Budget – Estimate costs for new LED tubes or retrofit kits and labor.

Thorough planning upfront prevents unexpected issues down the road and results in an optimized LED lighting retrofit.

LED Tube Options to Replace Fluorescent Tubes

Two main options exist when replacing fluorescent tubes with LEDs:

Direct wire LED tubes

  • Designed to wire directly into existing fluorescent fixture
  • Bypass ballast and lamp holders
  • Retain original housing
  • Require rewiring internal sockets

Plug-and-play LED tubes

  • Use lamp holders like fluorescent tubes
  • Built-in driver and standard plugs
  • Just swap into fixture without rewiring
  • Retrofit kit may be needed

Assess whether your application is best suited to direct wire or plug-and-play LED replacement tubes. Factor in costs, labor, and ease of installation.

How to Change a Fluorescent Shop Light Fixture to LED

Fluorescent shop light upgrades provide an inexpensive way to save energy in garages and workspaces. Here are the steps:

  1. Disconnect power to shop light and remove fluorescent tube. Recycle properly.
  2. Remove ballast cover panel and disconnect ballast wiring. Cap unused wires separately.
  3. Install LED driver inside housing and connect AC supply to input wires.
  4. Connect LED tube to driver output wires. Attach watertight connectors.
  5. Mount new LED tube using provided lamp holders. Reinstall covers.
  6. Turn power back on and test new LED shop light installation.

Convert old fluorescent shop fixtures to LED for cooler, more efficient garage and workshop illumination.

LED Panel Retrofits for Fluorescent Office Ceiling Grids

Many office spaces utilize 2×2 or 2×4 fluorescent troffer grids. Follow these tips for converting to LED panels:

  1. Measure existing fluorescent ceiling grid dimensions and note light output.
  2. Select appropriate panel LED modules that fit into grid frames directly.
  3. Disconnect and remove fluorescent tubes and ballasts. Recycle properly.
  4. Clean and prepare grid housing to remove old caulk and dirt.
  5. Install LED panels using provided brackets/hardware. Connect to line voltage wiring.
  6. Seal grid housing to be dust and bug-proof. Install diffuser panel.
  7. Turn on power and verify proper LED operation. Set dimming levels as desired.

With LED ceiling panel retrofits, businesses can illuminate office spaces using half the energy.

Considerations for Converting Recessed Can Fluorescents to LED

Important factors for upgrading recessed can fluorescents to LED:

  • Measure existing can dimensions and select compatible LED retrofit kit.
  • Determine if a dedicated LED can is better suited than a retrofit kit.
  • Check if insulation contact rated (IC) cans are required with retrofits.
  • Use dimmable LEDs with dimmable fluorescent cans to maintain functionality.
  • Ensure remote driver LED kits comply with enclosed fixture requirements.
  • Change ceiling apertures if LED has different beam spread than fluorescent.
  • Verify new LED recessed kit is properly heat sunk.

With proper LED retrofit kit selection, recessed fluorescent cans can be upgraded for greater efficiency and light quality.

Maintenance Benefits of Switching Warehouse Fluorescents to LED

Switching industrial warehouse fluorescent high bay fixtures to LEDs provides these maintenance perks:

  • Fewer outages – LEDs last over twice as long as fluorescents with no dead lamps.
  • Lower labor costs – Significantly fewer lamp replacements required over time.
  • Improved safety – No more dangerous tall ladders to service fluorescents.
  • Less disposal – Fluorescent tube and ballast waste is eliminated.
  • Better operation – LEDs work well in cold warehouse temperatures.

By upgrading to LED high bay fixtures, warehouses gain reliable, low maintenance lighting for years.

Pros and Cons of Fluorescent to LED Conversions

Here are some key pros and cons to consider:


  • Substantial long-term energy savings
  • Reduced maintenance expenses
  • Improved light quality and control
  • Longer-lasting LED fixtures
  • Rebates available to offset upfront costs


  • Higher upfront equipment cost
  • Retrofitting can be labor intensive
  • Cooler LED light may seem harsh initially
  • Fluorescent disposal/recycling required

Overall, pros outweigh cons making fluorescent to LED upgrades a smart investment for most businesses.

Fluorescent to LED Retrofit Cost Overview

Here are typical retrofit cost ranges:

ComponentCost Range
LED tubes$10-$100 per tube
LED panels$50-$150 per panel
LED downlights$50-$200 per fixture
Control upgrades$100-$500 per installation
Labor$100 per hour
Rebates$10-$50 per fixture

Calculate total retrofit costs based on the number of fixtures and complexity of your unique installation requirements. Costs should amortize through energy savings within 1-3 years.


Upgrading from fluorescent to LED lighting provides significant benefits including lower energy bills, reduced maintenance, and better light quality. With diligent planning for electrical changes, disposing of old fluorescent components properly, and selecting the right LED replacement tubes or retrofit kits, businesses can improve their lighting energy efficiency by 50% or more. While the conversion does require an initial investment, available rebates combined with dramatic long term energy savings make converting to LED extremely worthwhile. By following the recommendations in this guide, facility managers can orchestrate a smooth transition to LED technology.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need to rewire fluorescent fixtures when converting to LED?

A: Sometimes. Direct wire LED tubes require rewiring but plug-and-play LED tubes just swap into existing sockets. Retrofit kits also vary.

Q: Can I put LED tubes in fluorescent fixtures without changing the ballast?

A: No, fluorescent ballasts must be removed or bypassed for LED operation. The voltages are incompatible.

Q: How do I dispose of old fluorescent lighting safely?

A: Fluorescent tubes and ballasts may contain mercury requiring special recycling. Contact your local waste management authority for disposal guidelines.

Q: Is a dimmer compatible with LED lights?

A: LEDs require dimmers designed for LED technology, labeled as LED or universal. Older dimmers for incandescent/fluorescent won’t work properly.

Q: Do I need to change the fluorescent fixture housing when switching to LED?

A: Usually not, unless the housing is severely damaged. The retrofit kit or tubes adapt to the existing housing.

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