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  • Writer's pictureRJA Electrical Services

Retrofit LED tubes Vs. LED Modules

Retrofit LED tubes and retrofitting fluorescent fixtures with dedicated LED modules are two different approaches to upgrading lighting systems to LED. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best option for a particular situation will depend on various factors such as the existing fixture, the desired lighting performance, and the budget. The fluorescent tube ban comes into effect in September 2023 and with over 100 million fluorescent lamps in use in the UK, now is the time to look at sustainable alternatives to replacing all these units with new light fittings.





Advantages of retrofit LED tubes:

  1. Easy to install: Retrofit LED tubes are designed to be a direct replacement for traditional fluorescent tubes. They can often be installed without the need for significant modifications to the existing fixture, making them a convenient and cost-effective option for many installations.

  2. Versatile: Retrofit LED tubes can be used in a wide range of fixtures and applications, making them a flexible and adaptable option.

  3. Cost-effective: Compared to retrofitting the entire fixture, retrofit LED tubes are generally less expensive and can provide a lower upfront cost for the upgrade.


Advantages of retrofitting fluorescent fixtures with dedicated LED modules:

  1. Improved lighting performance: A dedicated LED module is an integral part of the fixture, which allows for more control over the lighting performance and can result in higher quality and more consistent light output.

  2. Longer lifespan: LED modules typically have a longer lifespan compared to traditional fluorescent tubes, which can result in lower maintenance and replacement costs over the long-term.

  3. More energy-efficient: LED modules are more energy-efficient compared to traditional fluorescent tubes, which can result in lower energy costs and a more sustainable lighting solution.

  4. Additional energy savings: Retrofit luminaires can have additional control options such as DALI dimming, daylight dimming, absence/presence detection saving even more energy.

  5. Support wellbeing: A complete retrofit of the luminaire can offer additional control such as tuneable white to support circadian lighting.


Disadvantages of retrofit LED tubes:

  1. Reduced lighting performance: In some cases, the lighting performance of the retrofit LED tube may not be as good as a dedicated LED module, as the tubes are not specifically designed for the fixture.

  2. Compatibility issues: Not all retrofit LED tubes are compatible with all fixtures, so it’s important to carefully check the compatibility before making a purchase.

  3. Reduced lifespan: The lifespan of a retrofit LED tube may be shorter compared to a dedicated LED module, as the tube is not specifically designed for the fixture so short terms savings are likely a false economy.

  4. Safety concerns: The European Commission Low Voltage Directive Administrative Co-operation Working Group (LVD ADCO) has raised serious concerns about the safety of replacement LED tubes and the modifications necessary to existing luminaires for them to operate safely.

  5. Variable quality: Not all retrofit LED tubes are created equal, and some may be of lower quality and not perform as well as others.

  6. Lack of Standards: The retrofit LED tube market can be confusing due to the lack of standards and the wide range of designs available.

  7. No Emergency Option: It is not possible to have a battery backup control for emergency lighting if the power fails.

  8. DALI difficulty: Limited availability of DALI compatible retrofit LED tubes

Disadvantages of retrofitting fluorescent fixtures with dedicated LED modules:

  1. Higher upfront cost: Compared to retrofit LED tubes, retrofitting the entire fixture with a dedicated LED module can be more expensive in the short term.

  2. More complex installation: Retrofitting the entire fixture with a dedicated LED module can be a more complex and involved process compared to simply installing a retrofit LED tube. It requires the services of a specialist retrofit electrician to ensure proper installation and compliance with regulations and standards.

In conclusion, both retrofit LED tubes and retrofitting fluorescent fixtures with dedicated LED modules have their own advantages and disadvantages. The best option for a particular situation will depend on various factors such as the existing fixture, the desired lighting performance, and the budget. It is recommended to consult with a professional retrofit lighting specialist to determine the best solution for your specific needs. Contact us today for help and advice with your retrofit lighting project.

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