Fluorescent Finale

The ubiquitous 4 foot fluorescent tube may soon be a mere memory. LED technology has revolutionized almost every other light in our homes – the flickering fluorescent is next.

But there’s no need to start ripping out fixtures. Just as LED bulbs are available for your reading lamp, the newest offerings in Ballast Bypass tubes convert your Fifties fluorescent to a modern lighting solution. Most are plug-and-play so you can retain the existing ballast and wiring, or bypass it for a trouble-free glow.

Look familiar? It’s the same familiar pins… but there’s no glass or mercury inside! These bulbs from Hykolity fit right in place of a T8 or T12 fluorescent.

Upgrading is pretty simple, just plug them in. And even if you do choose to bypass the ballast it’s an easy project if you’re comfortable working with electrical wiring. For those of us with older homes it’s nice to not worry about old ballasts that might fail. Or flicker. Or leak.

This ballast from the Sixties was still operating, despite spilling its PCBs.

Just as with standard fluorescents the color temperature makes a huge difference. This is even more important with LEDs to avoid the “cold white” light that can make your living room seem clinical. Look for bulbs with a color temperature of 3500-4000k for living areas, sometimes called Cool White or Natural White. For a work area 5000k is preferred.

Installation can be as simple as plugging them in. If you prefer to bypass or remove the ballast be sure to disconnect the power to the fixture. Most of the time you just need to cut and splice the existing wires that go to the ballast. Refer to the bulb’s instructions for details on the wiring.

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