Replacing T12 fluorescent bulbs with LED replacements

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Old 11-22-15, 01:56 PM
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Replacing T12 fluorescent bulbs with LED replacements

I have a house that was built in the early 60's and it has a lot of T12 fluorescent fixtures. Its a mix of 3' and 4' long bulbs. Its always been a big pain to keep replacing bulbs all the time (access can be difficult), and more recently, the old magnetic ballasts have been failing over the last few years. I've been replacing them with the newer electronic ballasts as they fail. So, there is a mixture of new electronic ballasts which will last a few more years (decades?), and old magnetic ballasts that could fail any minute. I'm looking into the idea of replacing the T12 fluorescent bulbs with the new LED T12 replacement "bulbs" as the old bulbs burn out. As far as I can tell, there seem to be two types of T12 LED replacements out there. Those that require you to remove the ballast, and those that work with existing ballasts in place.

Are there T12 LED replacements that can operate both with or without a ballast? The reason I ask is that as the old mag ballasts die, I'd like to just cut them out altogether and avoid the extra hassle and expenses of putting in a new ballast. But then I'd have to keep two types of T12 LED's on hand, and also keep track of which fixtures have ballasts, and which don't. If there isn't any available that can operate both with or without a ballast in place, what would you guys recommend is the best course of action for transitioning to LED? Or should I wait a couple of more years until prices come down and technology improves? Any recommendations on brands to use/avoid?
 
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Old 11-22-15, 03:15 PM
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4' T8s and T12s use the same size sockets, the only difference is some T12 fixtures the sockets are not shunted (both pins fed by the same wire). I would recommend using the LED tubes that bypass the ballast altogether. This will max out your energy savings and any maintenance required. T8 replacements might also be cheaper then T12s (which I looked for and couldn't find any.

LED prices are falling fast but really it is up to you to know when it is the right time to pull the trigger on this. There also might be some incentives from your power company to make the switch to LED.
 
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Old 11-22-15, 06:22 PM
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I don't think the LEDs to replace fluorescent lamps have dropped much if any yet, but the A-19 LED bulbs have dropped dramatically for the non-dimmable LED bulbs. They can be bought for less than $2 each now. When Ray checks in he can give you some info on the LED fluorescent replacements. I believe he replaced a bunch of them with the type that bypasses the ballast. He can also give you some tips on where to buy them.
 
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Old 11-22-15, 06:47 PM
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Great, thanks! Looking forward to more input!
 
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Old 11-22-15, 07:50 PM
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I bought LED retrofit four foot tubes at Amazon for less than $20 each. There were other places on the Net that were selling what seemed to be similar tubes for about $50. I couldn't understand the price difference and still don't after having used $18 tubes for a few months with no problems.

In my case I suspected a bad T-12 ballast. The cost of going to a T-8 ballast and having to buy new tubes would have been slightly more than LED. Also it was easier in my opinion to go to LED than convert to T-8. For the type LED I bought (connections vary with make) I just disconnected line in from the ballast and cut the rest of the wires off at the ballast. Then I removed the ballast (optional) and I just connected all the wires from the tombstones on one end to hot of line in and all the tombstone wires on the other end to neutral of line in.

(Strictly speaking only one wire was needed from each tombstone but rather then removing some wires I just used them all. [Lazy man's way.] Note some LED tubes connect on only one end. In that case feed is to individual pins and if it is a T-8 tombstone with shorted pins the tombstones will need to be replaced.)
 
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