Replace String of Fluorescent Lights On A Switch

I have a tray ceiling in the MB with about 45 ft (8 sets, 4 turns) of daisy-chained fluorescent bulbs attached to a switch on the wall. They are hidden and point toward the ceiling at about 9 ft up. It may be the last non-LED bulb(s) in my house. I cringe every time I watch my Sense energy monitor light up when that switch is turned on. My PAF is reliant on this since it really is the main light in the MB, and they are bright. The buzz also drives me crazy.

Any product recommendations to replace these with something a little nicer, bright enough to gain PAF, ability to dim, AND be able to satisfy the smart home urge?

There are dimmable LED (retrofit) tube lights, but I don't know how well they actually perform. You are probably going to have to go with ones where you bypass the fluorescent ballast.

Totally get that. I can't stand it either.

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I would suggest RGBGenie controller and Color Temperature LED Strips.. That's what I did with my kitchen over cabinet lighting..

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But will that be bright enough to replace 8 sets of fluorescent tubes?

I have some in my kitchen (top of cabinets like you) with a RGBGenie 24V controller, and 5 meters of LED. It is OK, but not like a replacement for ceiling lights. It isn't enough to work by, but is good for mood lighting.

But I do think this bedroom ceiling is a good use case for multiple lights controlled by independent sources. Maybe the RGB controller is in addition to some other lights?

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I use Philips InstantFit LED tube retrofits in my garage and kitchen. I've had them there for ~8 years now. They've been great. These aren't dimmable, but are ballast compatible.

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I may have to look more at this. I didn't think most tubes are dimmable, unless the fixture allowed it. I'd rather not replace (8) 30-year old fluorescent fixtures with new fluorescent fixtures if possible.

We have lamps/lights on the nightstands, so not the sole source of light in the room. Will LED's get bright enough? Do I need an additional power source up there for that type/length of run if I use LED's?

Yes, it is very likely.

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There are both types, one where the LED tube take the high voltage from the ballast, and do the conversion back to low voltage within the tube. These are an exact plug in. I don't think this type is ever dimmable.

The other type you remove all the "guts" from the fixtures, and the tube then runs on normal 120V. These can be dimmed, if the tube is built to do so.

Example of dimmable tubes here, but again no direct knowledge of this product. https://www.amazon.com/TOGGLED-D416-40321-2-Dimmable-Direct-Wire-4000K/dp/B07V83XGVQ

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I purchased these Commercial LED Strips. I love the quality and they are / can be really bright. I use a Zooz RGB dimmer.
The ones I purchased are white only no color.
I have several LED strips purchased from China and received the quality I paid for. I believe these are much better and have a high CRI index.

If your fluorescent fixtures are 30 years old, they probably have the older magnetic ballasts unless you replaced them with electronic ballasts. Since the ballasts are humming, you probably have magnetic ballasts.

The first electronic ballasts were available in the mid 90s. The average lifespan of a magnetic ballast is about 15 years, so if you have the original ballasts, it is time to replace them. Even if you replaced them with magnetic ballasts 15 years ago, it is time for another replacement. If you replaced them with an electronic ballast, then they should be good for up to 30 years. Then the LED replacement tubes might be an option

If you need to replace ballasts, you might as well either replace the entire fixture, or change the fixture over to LED direct wire. You do not have to do all the fixtures at the same time, although there will be differences in color temperature between the fluorescent bulbs and the LED bulbs.

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I would recommend caution here - to @rwclements228's point, I did a similar thing but must have had a bad ballast in my fixture and this happened:

Yes that is an LED bulb with a burnt end... I ended up replacing all my utility room lights with some cheapo amazon led shop lights and an IRIS smart plug. This works very well but not dimmable.

Note: the lighting in the picture is provided by the shop lights.. not sure why I have not thrown away this bulb yet.

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I replaced our florescent tubes in the kitchen with led tubes. The tubes I bought required me to rip out the guts and rewire the fixture. The tombstones didn't fit quite right so I had to use some glue to help hold them in place. Overall, pretty simple. The LED tubes are much brighter than the florescents I replaced. They are dimmable but I don't have them hooked to a dimmer so I can't comment on any flickering.. They have been in service for a couple years with no issues. I bought mine at home Depot. I'll try and find the name but do remember the mfg was out of Michigan.

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My fixtures have electronic ballasts. The one linked below:

I'd changed the ballast at the same time as the tubes.

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Yeah that was a big D'OH on my part... completely my fault of course. Luckily I did not burn down our house - that would rate fairly low on the WAF/PAF scale...

:zap::fire: :fire: :fire:

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I vaguely remember reading that the bulbs weren't compatible with magnetic ballasts, so I replaced it.

If those InstantFit LED tubes burn out, I'm most likely to replace the entire fixture with something like this:

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A thought to get you started.

Consider purchasing a low cost white string of LEDs with power supply from eBay (or similar).
They are often 5 meter (~15 feet).
Disconnect enough fluorescent bulbs (just rotate them 90°). Temporarily place the LED strip where they were. Perhaps even tack (rubber bands etc) them to the fluorescent bulbs.

See how you like the section with the LEDs.

UPDATE
A couple of extra words in case you go the DIY route. The typical Ebay LED strip requires something to pass the heat away from the LEDs. Even though LEDs are relatively low power they still generate some heat and do to their small size that heat can be concentrated on the device causing damage if not provided with another path. There are numerous aluminum "channels" on ebay. Some better than others. In addition to providing a heat path for the LED strips (which have sticky backs to adhere to a heatsink) there is usually a plastic cover that "softens" the LED light path making them look more like a strip of light rather than a number of small lights.

My recommendation is the purchase a strip and play with it. You can purchase some aluminum raw stock at home depot and fasten the LED strip to it for heat sinking purposes, use some small pieces of tape so you can remove them if you don't like the look.

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I think I'm going this route. I bought the dimmable LED tubes today, and will need to rewire.

Is there a smart switch that will work with this setup?

I'm using an OLD non plus GE zwave switch.

I would imagine any switch that can handle the current draw of the LED tubes would work.

If my bride ever wants this fixture to be dimmable, I would probably use a Zooz. Only because I have a couple of these Zooz switches in other locations of the house. I have read that people like the Inovelli switches too.

I highly recommend Lutron Caseta devices, unless you plan on installing a lot of them, purchasing the Luton Caseta Pro2 smart bridge is rather expensive. The less expensive standard bridge is not compatable with Hubitat.

As long as the lights are dimmable, you can use any dimmer switch. If you want it connected to Hubitat then either a Zigbee or Z-wave dimmer could work. However, you might need to check to see if your switch box contains a neutral wire. Many smart switches and dimmers require a neutral connection, but some do not. The Lutron Caseta devices work even without a neutral wire. Levitron Z-wave devices require a neutral, but some GE Z-wave devices do not.

Also remember that switches and dimmers that are connected to both hot and neutral wires usually function as signal repeaters. Because they have no neutral connection, Lutron Caseta wall dimmers and switches do not function as repeaters. However, the first Caseta outlet only does function as repeater. Due to the specific frequency used by Lutron Clear Connect, connections have been reliable, even without a mesh.

Some Lutron Caseta dimmers and switches work without neutrals, some do require a neutral wire. Always check the specs to clarify which is which.

AFAIK in-wall caseta switches and dimmers are not repeaters because that is how Lutron designed their ClearConnect protocol to function. Presumably, a Caseta switch with neutral could repeat, since it’s always powered, that’s just not what Lutron decided to do.

Powered z-wave and zigbee devices generally function as repeaters for those protocols (with some exceptions).

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