Sustainability and energy efficiency are popular topics these days. Companies are looking for solutions to combat rising energy costs and do their part for the environment.
One way to achieve both goals is to switch from traditional fluorescent lighting to LED lighting. But while LEDs use less energy and typically last longer than traditional bulbs, not all LED lighting will be suitable for your company’s specific applications and needs.
LED tubes are light sources in the form of traditional fluorescent tubes that use LEDs to produce light. They are therefore designed to replace the old fluorescent lamps, which are less energy efficient. Since many businesses use fluorescent lamps to light offices and industrial halls, LED tubes seem to be the ideal solution since they can be easily replaced in the existing fixture.
While LED tubes are indeed a more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly option than fluorescent lamps, there are some drawbacks to be aware of before considering the switch.
4 disadvantages of LED tubes
Below we list some of the biggest disadvantages, and why we advise against purchasing LED tubes to replace fluorescent lights.
1. They don’t do what they promise
No matter what sellers claim, LED tubes don’t always do what they promise. For example, the lifespan is often not achieved, and the lamps give much less light than old fluorescent lamps.
A conventional 58W fluorescent bulb produces about 5000 lumens. By comparison; most LED tubes produce about 2300 lumens, or maximum 3700lm (23W without ballast losses).
Finally, the original mirror optics for the fluorescent tubes no longer work as designed either, because LED tubes have a completely different beam pattern than the conventional fluorescent lamp.
2. They are compared incorrectly
A second disadvantage of LED tubes is that they are often mistakenly compared to older, usually worn out, fluorescent bulbs. When comparing two fixtures hanging side by side, one with LED and the other with an older fluorescent tube, it may indeed appear at first glance that the LED tube gives more light.
However, one often forgets that the fluorescent tube is at the end of its lifespan, and therefore gives a lot less light than a new one. When comparing LED to fluorescent, it is best to first use a new fluorescent to see the original light level and make an accurate comparison.
For an exact interpretation, it is better to measure the result under the LED tube with a lux meter. That way you can see how much light is actually coming on and usable for the intended application.
3. Often they are not standards-compliant
An additional problem is the conformity of LED tubes. After replacing fluorescent tubes with LED tubes, the manufacturer’s legal CE liability expires. This can have very important consequences when things go wrong with the electrical installation, such as in case of fire due to bad contacts in the LED tube circuit (one often has to intervene in the internal wiring).
When installing LED tubes, you should also keep in mind that not just any tube can be placed in any fixture; this depends on the characteristics of the old fluorescent lamp, such as the type of starter, ballast, etc.
Furthermore, the light distribution of new LED tubes often does not conform to the European EN 12464-1 standards, which define the properties of indoor lighting.
Project subsidies can only be obtained if you opt for full relighting. By relighting is meant the complete dismantling and removal of both the existing lamps and the existing fixtures, the execution of a lighting study in which the new lighting installation is fully calculated in a room according to the reality, and the installation of a completely new lighting installation according to the executed lighting study (more info on website Fluvius).
4. They are much less efficient in the system than a modern LED fixture.
Finally, something can be said about the efficiency of the LED tube in a traditional fixture, versus in a modern LED fixture.
In general, an LED tube has a maximum light output of about 170lm/W. However, you easily lose about 20% in the original fixture, giving a net output of only 138 lm/W. In comparison, an LED bulb in a modern LED fixture has a net strength of 165lm/W to 190lm/W.
So are LED tubes never a good option?
Despite all these disadvantages, there are still situations in which an LED tube can be a good choice. So in what cases would it be best to consider LED tubes?
1. You are a tenant and your contract expires within 3 years
If you are considering investing in an LED installation but you know you will be moving within a few years, it may be more interesting to opt for an LED tube. You then only need to install the tubes without having to replace the entire fixture. This way you don’t have to worry about ROI either.
2. Your space will be completely renovated within 3 years
Again, it’s better to wait until the complete renovation is done before investing in completely new LED fixtures.
3. The fixtures are difficult to replace
Existing fluorescent fixtures may have been hanging there for many years and may not have been installed with the idea that one day they would have to be replaced with more modern alternatives. This can make it more difficult to replace the fixtures; in such a case, it may be easier to just replace the lamps themselves and leave the conventional fixtures hanging.
4. Your budget is very limited
Replacing an old fluorescent installation with new LED fixtures can be quite expensive. If your budget is rather limited it can be more interesting to choose LED tubes in the first place. You can then replace the fixtures at a later time when the company’s financial situation allows for this.
Good to know though: if your company is fully relighted, you can usually apply for subsidies. Feel free to contact us for more information about this!
Want to know more?
Our lighting experts will be happy to assist you with advice and solutions tailored to your specific situation, needs and wishes!