Author: Brian Huff
One of the hottest topics that consistently gets discussed in our office is the pros and cons of Plug & Play vs. Ballast Bypass LED T8 lamps. We talk to potential customers every day who have read about Ballast Bypass lamps, been quoted Ballast Bypass lamps, or are asking to buy them from us. Adventure Lighting’s stance on Ballast Bypass Linear LED has always been to stay away from them. MANY of our competitors, colleagues and vendors swear by them- But we believe there are serious long term risks associated with this LED Solution. Here are a few points that may help you and your business decide which option is best for you.
- With Ballast Bypass Lamps, you must re-wire the entire fixture. This is obvious, but if you’re going to go to the effort (as easy as it may be) of re-wiring a fixture, just replace the fixture. Ballast Bypass along with Plug & Play LED T8 lamps are a simple fix to go from Fluorescent to LED. Re-wiring the fixture takes away from the simplicity of the process.
- “You eliminate the ballast as a failure point in the fixture”. True. But I would argue that replacing a ballast is a pretty simple, fairly cheap process. Electricians, maintenance professionals and building owners have been replacing ballasts for decades. It’s just not that big of deal. Generally speaking, they outlast the LED lamps anyways.
- Safety Risk of Line Voltage running on a LED Lamp. This problem has been addressed for the most part by companies adding surge protection and safety devices to LED lamps to ensure the safety of the installers of the lamps. That said, there are lamps out there that don’t have the protections that others have. It’s common practice to place a finger on the lamp pins for alignment while installing. This is risky with 120v. Let alone 277v, or 347v in Canada.
- Long term safety issues. Lets assume that the Bypass Lamps are installed and working correctly. You’ve gone to the trouble of re-wiring a fixture, and installing the lamps safely. The manufacturers have addressed a lot of safety issues for install, I won’t argue that the already installed bypass lamps are going to be okay to use. The real issue is how to replace failed lamps in the future. The UL states that you must place a sticker in the modified fixture to warn future installers that “this fixture has been modified from its original configuration”. This is the ONLY thing that notifies someone that they need to make sure they know what they’re doing. Let’s be honest, no one is going to read that sticker. There are two different ways to wire a bypass led tube. Single Ended, where the hot and neutral are on one end of the lamp- and Double Ended, where the hot is one side and the neutral is on the other. We have had multiple instances where electricians walk into our shop and tell us about putting the wrong lamp into a bypass fixture. One instance involved shorting a system and taking out a floor of computers in an office. Now, this is an extreme case. But I would ask if your installer replacing lamps 4 or 5 years down the road is going to be capable of matching up the correct lamp with the existing wiring configuration of the modified fixture, or if they’re going to grab the most accessible lamp on their way back from lunch and slap it up there. Perhaps they’ll grab a fluorescent lamp and put it in. That lamp has a pretty strong possibility of literally exploding in their hand.
If your goal is to easily, cheaply and safely change from fluorescent T8 to LED T8, we recommend instant fit, plug & play LED T8 lamps. It is the simplest way to save energy, while preserving the long term safety of the fixture and the installers.
President, Adventure Lighting Inc.
Adventure Lighting has been in the wholesale lighting business since 1980 in Des Moines, Iowa. Brian has been with the company since 2008 and has fully owned Adventure Lighting since 2017
Let’s face it. LED Technology is the future of lighting. But there is still a lot of confusion as to which LED Technology is best for indoor applications in particular. I’m here to shed light on that question.
The Best way to take advantage of LED lighting is to be able to control it. Fluorescent Lighting is a proven technology, but it doesn’t offer much by means of control. Sure, you’re able to dim fluorescent ligthing. But it’s an expensive endeavor that rarely is used. New Codes are requiring that each space in your typical office building use at least 3 levels of lighting. On, Off, and somewhere in between. That can mean, dimming capability, or separate switching so that only 1 of the 2 lamps turn on in a given fixture. (more…)
UPDATED!! New fixtures added!
One of the fastest growing LED markets is in the Outdoor area. We’ve discussed in earlier posts how the indoor LED products are starting to come around, but for the most part, numbers don’t add up. Well in outdoor situations the numbers are a no-brainer! The hardest part about understanding LED is actually seeing it live and in person. We can tell you how a 20w LED fixture will replace a 100 watt High pressure Sodium fixture, but wouldn’t it be nice to actually see it person??? We thought so. So we built a board of LED fixtures to do just that.
Listed from Top Left being #1, to bottom right being #12. Here’s what we have:
1) RAB Lighting’s – 91 Watt Area Light. This fixture is perfect for parking lot lighting and walkway lighting throughout a facility’s property.
2) RAB Lighting’s – 13 Watt Flood/Spot Light. This fixture is perfect for lighting up a flag pole or any outdoor sign.
3) Lithonia Lighting’s – 35 Watt Wall Pack. This general purpose wall pack has an excellent beam pattern and is able to replace up to 175w Metal Halide Wall Pack fixtures.
4) Juno Lighting’s – 50 Watt Decorative Wall Pack – Polaris wall pack designed for higher end architectural look. Ultra efficient LED Fixture with a nice look to match.
5) RAB Lighting’s – 52 Watt Wall Pack – Designed to replace up to a 250w HPS / Metal Halide Wall Pack
6) RAB Lighting’s – 78 Watt Flood Light – Designed to Replace 250w to 320w Metal Halide Flood Lights. Perfect for lighting up the side of building.
7) Lithonia Lighting’s – OLW14 – 26w LED Wall Pack – Ideal above man doors on your building!
8) Lithonia Lighting’s – OLAW – 35w LED Wall/Area Light. Perfect Dusk to Dawn Fixture Replacement
9) Lithonia Lightins’s – OLW – 35w LED Wall Pack – For larger HID Replacement applications
10) RAB Lighting’s – 13w Wall Pack – Designed to replace 50w-70w HID Wall pack, above man doors.
11) RAB Lighting’s – 20w Wall Pack – Designed to replace 70w-100w HID Wall Pack
12) RAB Lighting’s – 26w Wall Pack – Designed to replace 150w HID Wall Pack
One of great features of our display is the nLight Touchpad Control. Thanks to our friends from SensorSwitch, we are able to individually control each light on the board to easily compare like fixtures. The wiring is all done over Cat5 cable, making it easy and cheap to install. This switch will individually control 16 different channels. And it looks cool to boot!
- Here’s what the inner workings look like from the back.
We’re excited to show our display to anyone who would like to see the latest and greatest in LED Fixtures on display. Stop by if you’re in town.
If you’ve noticed the increasing prices of fluorescent lamps jumping lately, there’s a reason. And it’s not just manufacturers making more money! You may have heard about a “Rare Earth Phosphor” crisis in the global market. The lack of phosphors has sent prices skyrocketing across many industries, including fluorescent lamps. Here’s what’s going on…
Our friends in China have clamped down on production of Rare Earth Phosphors. Supply and Demand = prices have gone up. This problem first presented itself last summer, and prices have steadily increased ever since. Prices that are normally guaranteed for a year or two are now being quoted for a few months at a time.
Bottom line- Time to start stocking up on lights!
Update: The 700 series T8 lamps that were slated to be discontinued this summer have been ok’d to be produced for another 2 years. The Rare Earth problem has pushed prices too high to force everyone to move to the 800 series lamp. With that being said, if you’re a fan of better quality light, and more lumens per watt, you may want to move to the 800 series anyways.
Thanks for reading!
Good Morning Everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and a lot has changed in the past few months. Based on the comments of this blog, everyone wants to know about LED! I will try to satisfy the audience in this post…
We just received our first samples of the 4′ linear LED T8 Tube from Philips a few weeks ago. We have them installed and they are performing surprisingly well. They’re running without a ballast at 87-88 watts for the 4 lamp fixture with Foot Candle measurements close to that of the T8 fixture next to it.
The wiring was difficult. I recieved a call from a gentleman in California a few months ago asking about these LED 4′ tubes. His main concern as we talked was how easy they are to install. I can speak from experience that it’s not as easy as replacing a ballast. I spent approximately 30 minutes re-wiring the entire fixture. With that being said, it looks really nice.
I was surprised to see that you can’t actually see the individual LED’s in the lamp. You probably wouldn’t notice that the fixture is LED unless we told you. (which is a good thing)
As far as how much it costs… All I will say is that you’d better be sitting down. Give me a call/email/comment on the post to inquire more about this emerging technology. This is where lighting is going, we’re getting closer, but we’re not there yet.[polldaddy poll=5638289]
Jack Huff, along with his son Brian and wife Sue, owns and manages Adventure Lighting in Des Moines, Iowa.
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