Linear LED tubes have become more competitive over the years, and with that comes more options than ever. So, if you’re operating with discontinued T12 fluorescent tubes, you’re probably beginning to weigh the options for a retrofit.
But in the sea of choices, how do you know what the right product is and where to buy it?
Is there a plug-and-play T12 LED?
There used to be an easy plug-and-play LED tube that was compatible with the old magnetic ballast powering many T12 fluorescent tubes. The Philips product was the only option we recommended since having a reputable manufacturer to back the product was important in this application.
Unfortunately, the LED plug-and-play replacement for T12 tubes is now discontinued.
Ultimately, there were some questions with keeping the old magnetic ballast, though, because it’s hard to determine the amount of life left in those old bricks. But we have good news – there are still a number of great and cost-effective replacement options.
Which LED T12 solution is right for me?
The first – and often most disorienting – question to consider is what product to choose if you’re replacing fluorescent T12 tubes. Essentially, you have six options.
- Plug-and-play LED paired with a new electronic ballast
- Direct wire or ballast-bypass LED
- LED tube with a remote driver
- T8 fluorescent with a new electronic ballast
- LED retrofit kit for the existing fixture
- New integrated LED fixture
Whew. Is that all?
Making sense of these options can seem daunting, especially since the lighting industry is constantly changing.
What to look for in linear LEDs
When it comes to choosing linear
For more tips on choosing a reputable manufacturer, download our checklist.
Where to purchase linear LED tubes for T12 retrofits
Does it really matter where you purchase LED products? Well, that depends. In the case of LED tubes in a commercial environment, you have a few risks to manage:
- There have been recalls and claims against LED tubes, so make sure you purchase the tubes from a reputable company that can help get you walk through the warranty process. Will Amazon be there if your tubes fail six months down the road?
- We’ve seen some poorly made tubes that didn’t last long, so make sure you’re able to get reliable advice on the reliability of the product and manufacturer.
- Be careful about the difference between residential and commercial grade products. You’ll want to make sure you get the right match for your project.
- If you’re doing a large-scale project, you’ll probably benefit from the project management and logistics support that a national distributor can provide.
Depending on which product you use, you may find that you have to purchase from a distributor that has lighting expertise.
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Other T12 to LED conversion options
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are other options to address discontinued T12 tubes. Some require more cost and time than others, so the most important thing to consider as you’re walking through the decision is your primary goal.
Easy maintenance may point you in the direction of a new LED fixture or an ultra-long-life T8 tube. Maximum energy savings may point you in the direction of an LED tube with a remote driver or a new fixture.
The most common product selected by our customers is the direct wire or ballast-bypass LED tube. Here are a few reputable options to consider. Or contact us to sign up for a business account to receive business pricing.