10 Considerations when buying LED tubes

Posted on

July 6, 2016

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Here are our top ten things to consider before you buy LED Tubes.

This article is part of our series to help you ask the right questions before buying energy and water saving solutions and understand. We are also happy to help over the phone on 0333 123 5464.

1. Fitting type

Tube fitting types will begin with ‘T’ and end with a number, eg. T8. The larger the number, the fatter the tube and with increased size, the less efficient the lamp tends to be.

The fitting type should be printed on the glass at the end of your existing tube, be sure to find an equivalent LED. Although you may struggle to find a straight swap for T5, T10, or T12 tubes as the standard is T8.

For more information, see our LED Jargon Buster.

2. Tube length

It may sound obvious, but it is relatively easy to pick a 4-foot tube instead of a 5-foot model and vice versa.

Make sure you measure the tube you are replacing so you can be sure. Another reassurance is checking the wattage – standard T8 fluorescent tube wattages are as follows: 2ft = 18W, 3ft = 30W, 4ft = 36W, 5ft = 56W, and 6ft = 70W.
See our LED Jargon Buster for more information.

3. Rewiring

When replacing fluorescent tubes with LED tubes it is highly likely that some rewiring will be involved. This is because fluorescent tubes have specific requirements and these are met by electronic components in the light fitting. In order to fit an LED tube these need to be bypassed.

We recommend all wiring is carried out by a trained electrician.

4. Electrician/labour cost

When considering the cost of replacing your lighting make sure you are aware of the labour cost of an electrician. Use a local trade directory to find electricians and gather a few quotes.

5. Housing

Lots of applications will not need a particular fitting, but consider your particular environment and ensure you include allowances for the cost of a fixture.

IP rated (vapour proof) fittings will be especially useful in commercial kitchens where water vapour can enter an LED tube and cause damage. Special diffuser fixtures may also be necessary to minimise glare – this is a requirement for schools as glare can be distracting.

If you think you may require a special fitting then call us for advice tailored to your scenario: our lighting experts will be happy to help.

6. Savings

Savings are often a big draw for businesses to convert to LED. LEDs are more energy efficient and last significantly longer than their counterparts. Even if you are just looking to replace the tube in your garage, the potential savings is a nice sweetener.

If you are looking at a larger project, SaveMoneyCutCarbon offer a bespoke modelling service which will outline your potential savings and include data on return on investment and payback time.

Alternatively, if yours is only a small project you can roughly work out how much you can save by seeing how much power (W) your current lighting uses, and comparing that to how much power a corresponding LED uses.

Consult our experts if you would like further advice on how to calculate your savings. Also, see our LED FAQs for more information on how LED can save you money.

7. Life

LEDs last considerably longer than fluorescent tubes. With the latest Verbatim, Generation 2, tube coming out top of the heap with an incredible 70,000 hour life. This compares to just 8,000 hours for a fluorescent tube.

Your maintenance cost will be significantly lowered as you will not have to replace LED tubes for years, likely decades, at a time.

8. Colour temperature

Picking the right colour temperature is a very personal decision as it helps set the atmosphere of a room. Simply, the colour temperature is the colour the light from the lamp looks.

Typically, a tube will be around 4000K for an office environment all the way up to 6000K in some clinical environments or in rooms with high ceilings.

See our LED Jargon Buster for more information on colour temperature before choosing and if you are still unsure then give us a call for advice on your specific situation.

9. Special considerations

Also consider any special requirements you might have before deciding on a tube. For example, our Verbatim LED tubes come with anti-flicker assurances.

Anti-flicker technology assures that a light does not produce a high frequency flicker which can be detrimental to health and concentration in rare circumstances. This is a particular requirement of lighting in schools as pupils and teachers alike need to maintain a high degree of concentration.

10. 6-foot tubes

Expect to pay a premium for 6-foot LED tubes.
Traditional glass fluorescent tubes were rigid, and so stayed perfectly straight and safe in their fittings when they heated as they were left on.

In contrast, LED tubes are manufactured with light directed one way, with an opaque back. Plastic is a cost-saving backing material but this can warp tubes longer than 5-foot when they heat up as they are used.

To combat this problem, 6-foot tubes are made with machine-milled metal backing but the manufacture of these components is expensive and unfortunately manufacturers have to pass that cost on.

See our LED tube range here

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