When installing T8 LED tubes, we get a lot of questions regarding whether or not to bypass the ballast or not. Hopefully this information will shed some light on this issue.
|Installation||Takes around 15-20 mins per tube. This extra time amounts to added labour cost||Simple install, remove the casing, old light and starter place in a new light and starter.||Factor in the extra time it takes to complete the job and the opportunity cost it takes whilst the light is being installed|
|Efficiency||Since the ballast is bypassed the efficiency of the tube is not affected by the ballast||If the ballast is left in tact, depending on the type of ballast, age of ballast, efficiency of the light can be reduced by anywhere between 0% to 20%||If you are committed to LED’s bypass the ballast as you are rewarded with higher efficiency. If you are just trialing retrofit.|
|Safety||All bypassed tubes are tagged with warning sticker to only use LED tubes||As the fixture is unaltered, no safety concerns||Once a ballast is bypassed non-compatible lights will not be functional.|
|Sound||Without a ballast, there is no humming or buzzing sound||Almost all ballasts hum to some degree, with magnetic ballasts humming more than electronic ballasts.||Advantage goes to bypassed systems as there is no ballast and no sound.|
|Lifetime||Based on the lifetime of the tube. Rated on average at 30,000 hours||The lifetime is based on the LED tubes and the life of the ballast. Ballasts can last anywhere between 30,000 hours and 80,000 hours depending on type and usage.||Once the tube has exceeded its lifespan, In a bypassed system only the cost of new tubes will be factored. In a retrofit system, the cost of both fixing or bypassing the ballast and new tube need to be considered|
|Compatibility||Ballast compatibility is not an issue||Not all tubes work with all ballasts.||Know which tubes are compatible with which ballasts before doing a large upgrade.|
|Future||Must always use specified tube in the fitting||Can be interchangeable with regular fluorescents at any time.||If wanting to go back to regular fluorescent tubes, retrofit fit, otherwise use LED tubes for the remainder life of the fixture.|
So which is best? It really depends on the situation. Generally, if you are seeking a permanent reduction to your energy bill, bypass the ballast as this will only allow the use of energy efficient products. If you are looking for a temporary saving, retrofit but bear in mind, not all existing ballasts will be compatible with LED tubes.