LED bulbs

John K Jordan
>>>...plug and play" 4 foot LED tubes to replace my old flouresents. They said no need to mess with the ballasts... Do the ballasts still eat power? And if I bypass them and wire through direct, will the LED tubes still work right?
These may be unfair questions, but if anybody knows, you will.

Ha! I have zero experience with LED replacement bulbs other than reading that some people have used them. Do the instructions not give a hint? A question to the maker or distributor?

I suspect the ballasts will use power since they are still attached to the wiring and the bulbs have to get their power there. How much is wasted I don't know. One thing to check would be to open up a fixture and measure the current going through wires to the ballasts with the power on with and and without the LED bulbs connected. But for a fair check, you'd have to also measure the current used by an equivalent LED bulb of the type that requires removing/bypassing the ballast.

I'd be wary though of LED bulbs that rely on power that goes through the ballasts. What happens if the ballasts die - do you have to go buy and install new fluorescent ballasts? Will ballasts designed for fluorescents last longer or shorter if used with LEDs? Maybe someone with actual experience and knowledge will answer!

One thing still worries me about LEDs - the LED emitters will last for decades if kept from overheating but the electronics to provide the power at the proper frequency is still the weak link. The electronics are either built into the fixture or like CFLs, into the base of replaceable LED bulbs.

I've had several fixtures with non-replaceable LED elements go bad and start flickering (including two porch lights on the shop in the last year) and the only thing to do is buy new fixtures unless I saved the receipt. Fortunately, LED bulbs are getting cheaper. But I think hard before I buy a fixture with non-replaceable bulbs - it has to be cheap enough to consider it a consumable, but even then the trouble to remove and replace it is time consuming.


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