What You Don’t Know About T8 LED Tubes
By now you know that you can save money and cut down on maintenance costs by switching your fluorescent T8 tubes to T8 LED tubes. Not only are fluorescent tubes less energy efficient than LEDs and require special disposal methods, the replacement rate will make you tired of climbing the ladder. Fortunately, LED tubes alleviate or eliminate those issues, yet they’re not without caveats and quirks of their own. For a more in-depth look at how to buy LED tubes, please read our buyer’s guide. Below we’ve answered three of the most common questions that consumers ask us when upgrading or retrofitting with T8 LED tubes.
Are Direct Wire T8 LEDs Single Ended?
Yes. Most direct wire T8 LEDs are single ended, meaning you should only need to wire one side of the fixtures, one set of sockets, to the power source. The other sockets become simple lampholders to keep your bulbs from moving or falling. Recently, double-ended direct wire T8 bulbs have become available at 1000Bulbs.com. These new LED tubes can receive power from both ends, making the installation easier. You can truly determine whether your T8 LED tubes are single or double ended by studying the installation instructions. Single ended tubes will have you remove the ballast and cut the wiring for the sockets on one end of fixture without connecting them back to the power source.
Do I Need Non-Shunted Sockets for Direct Wire T8s?
Yes. Most direct wire LED T8s will require non-shunted sockets. The difference between a shunted and non-shunted socket is how the electrical current flows through the fixture. You can read more about shunted versus non-shunted sockets in a separate article. Exceptions to the non-shunted socket rule are double-ended direct wire LED tubes, which can use either type of lampholder, or any single ended T8 with installation instructions specifically requiring the use of shunted sockets. Plug and play LED tubes typically use shunted sockets since they are mainly compatible with electronic instant start ballasts which require shunted sockets to operate properly.
Why Won’t My Hybrid LED Tubes Work Without a Ballast?
The short answer is you need to rewire your fixture. Hybrid LED tubes will work with or without a ballast. Hybrids are commonly installed in fixtures with ballasts, operating as plug and play LEDs until the ballast’s lifespan has ended. Once the ballast stops working, it’s time to remove it and rewire your fixture to run directly off the main power supply. Hybrid LEDs can work in plug and play mode with shunted or non-shunted sockets. However, it’s important to note that when rewiring your fixture for direct wire operation, you should switch out any shunted sockets for non-shunted sockets. After rewiring, your hybrid will now operate as direct T8 LED tube.