Wondering about the difference between LED tube retrofit options? There are pros and cons to installing Type A (plug and play), Type B (ballast bypass), or Type C (lamps with driver). View the comparisons below to identify which lamp is best for your project.
Note: Illuminate California only offers incentives for Type B and Type C installations.
- Quick and easy install. Type A tubes are often referred to as “plug and play” because they are inserted into the existing ballast as a one-to-one fluorescent replacement.
- Low up-front cost. Equipment and labor are generally lower cost for Type A retrofit installations compared to Type B and Type C.
- Compatibility issues. Type A tubes may not be compatible with the existing fluorescent ballast, which would require a ballast replacement. For example, magnetic ballasts are not compatible with Type A tubes.
- Efficiency limitations. Incompatible ballasts can also limit the full efficiency potential of the new LED bulb.
- Higher maintenance costs. Ballasts have a limited lifetime, which means the ballast may fail and require replacement before the tube fails, especially if the installer doesn’t replace the old ballast during the initial retrofit.
- Inspection and verification. As an accelerated replacement measure, Type A retrofits will require inspection and verification if the project is receiving incentives, which can delay the incentive payment and requires additional touchpoints with the customer and the facility.
- Not dimmable. Most Type A tubes are not dimmable.
- Long-term solution. Type B tubes are often referred to as “ballast bypass” or “direct wire” because they do not require a ballast. During a Type B retrofit, the installer removes the ballast and installs all new equipment, which increases the longevity and reliability of the equipment.
- Low maintenance costs. There is low risk of Type B tubes failing over time and needing repairs. Lamp replacement is simplified without the ballast, and there is no need to hire an electrician when it’s time to replace the lamp.
- Quiet. Removing the ballast removes the “hum” noise that comes with most ballasts.
- Higher Labor Costs. Removing the ballast and rewiring usually requires a certified electrician, which increases labor costs.
- More expensive than Type A. Type B tubes are also typically more expensive than Type A tubes, although Illuminate California incentives offset the cost.
- Not dimmable. Most Type B tubes are not dimmable.
- Long life span. Type C retrofits include replacing the lamp and replacing the ballast with a driver. The full equipment replacement and installation of a driver give Type C tubes a longer life than Type A and Type B.
- Maximum efficiency. Type C tubes offer higher energy efficiency than the other types.
- Low maintenance costs. The longer life span of Type C tubes leads to fewer replacements and lower maintenance costs.
- Dimmable. Type C tubes are dimmable.
- Most expensive. Type C tubes are more expensive than Type A and Type B. They generally have the highest equipment and labor costs. Illuminate California offers higher incentive amounts for Type C tubes, which offset the cost.
Posted February 14, 2022