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Sustainability and energy efficiency are popular topics these days. Companies are looking for solutions to combat rising energy costs and do their bit for the environment.

One way to achieve both goals is to switch from traditional fluorescent lighting to LED lighting. But while LEDs consume less energy and usually last longer than traditional bulbs, not all LED lighting will be suitable for your company's specific applications and needs.

LED tubes

LED tubes are light sources in the form of traditional fluorescent tubes that use LEDs to produce light. They are designed to replace old fluorescent tubes, which are less energy-efficient. Because many companies use fluorescent tubes for lighting offices and industrial buildings, LED tubes seem to be the ideal solution, as they can easily be replaced in the existing fixture.

While LED tubes are indeed a more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly option than fluorescent lights, there are still some drawbacks to be aware of before considering the switch.

4 reasons why you should not install LED tubes

4 disadvantages of LED tubes

Below we list some of the biggest disadvantages, and why we do not recommend buying LED tubes to replace fluorescent lights.

1. They do not do what they promise

No matter what sellers claim, LED tubes do not always do what they promise. For example, the lifespan is often not achieved, and the lamps provide much less light than old fluorescent lamps.

A conventional fluorescent lamp of 58W produces about 5000 lumens. In comparison, most LED tubes produce around 2300 lumens, or a maximum of 3700lm (23W without ballast losses).

Finally, the original mirror optics for the fluorescent tubes no longer work as designed, because LED tubes have a completely different radiation pattern than the conventional fluorescent tube.

2. They are compared incorrectly

A second disadvantage of LED tubes is that they are often mistakenly compared to older, usually worn, fluorescent tubes. If one compares two fittings hanging next to each other, one with LED and the other with an older fluorescent tube, it may indeed appear at first sight that the LED tube gives more light.

However, people often forget that the fluorescent lamp is at the end of its life, and therefore provides a lot less light than a new one. When comparing LED with TL, it is best to use a new TL first 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. In this way, you can see how much light actually arrives and is useful for the intended application.

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3. They are often not standard-compliant

An additional problem is the conformity of LED tubes. After replacing fluorescent tubes with LED tubes, the legal CE liability of the manufacturer expires. This can have very important consequences when it goes 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 must also take into account that not every tube can be placed in every fixture just like that; this depends on the properties of the old fluorescent lamp, such as the type of starter, ballast, etc.

Furthermore, the light distribution of new LED tubes often does not comply with the European EN 12464-1 standards, which determine the properties of interior lighting.

You can only obtain project subsidies if you opt for complete relighting. By relighting is meant the complete dismantling and removal of both the existing lamps and luminaires, the performance of a lighting study in which the new lighting installation is fully calculated in a space drawn up according to the reality, and the installation of a completely new lighting installation in accordance with the performed lighting study (more info on the Fluvius website).

4. They are much less efficient than a modern LED luminaire.

Finally, something can be said about the efficiency of the LED tube in a traditional luminaire, versus in a modern LED luminaire.

In general, an LED tube has a maximum light output of about 170lm/W. However, in the original fixture you easily lose a 20%, which gives a net yield of only 138lm/W. In comparison, a LED lamp in a modern LED fixture has a net output of 165lm/W to 190lm/W.

Are LED tubes never a good option?

Despite all these disadvantages, there are situations in which an LED tube can be a good choice. In which cases would you best consider installing 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 that you will be moving within a few years, it may be more interesting to choose an LED tube. You then only have to install the tubes without having to replace the entire fixture. This way you also don't have to worry about ROI.

2. Your space will be completely renovated within 3 years

Here, too, it is better to wait until the complete renovation has taken place before investing in completely new LED luminaires.

3. The devices are difficult to replace

Existing fluorescent fittings may have been there for many years and may not have been installed with the idea that they would one day have to be replaced by more modern alternatives. This can make it more difficult to replace the fittings; in such a case, it may be easier to just replace the lamps themselves and leave the conventional fittings in place.

4. Your budget is very limited

Replacing an old fluorescent tube installation with new LED fittings can be quite expensive. If your budget is rather limited, it may be more interesting to initially choose LED tubes. You can then replace the fittings at a later date when the financial situation of the company allows more room for this.

Good to know: If your company is fully relighted, you can usually also apply for subsidies. Feel free to contact us for more information!

Finally, below you will find a selection table to help you make a good choice:

4 reasons why you better not install LED tubes - LED retrofit selection table

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!

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Find out how we can help your business with sustainable and more efficient LED lighting. LED's talk