Ballast compatible? Double ended power? What do these even mean?!

Lighting is tricky to understand. If it was easy, we wouldn't need electricians! So if you’re looking to replace your fluorescent tube lighting but don’t really understand all the LED terminology, don’t sweat it. This blog will discuss the differences between single vs. double ended tubes, as well as comparing Type A, Type B, and Type A-B LED power tubes. Let’s get to it!

Single vs. Double Ended Power Tubes

In a single ended power tube, the live and neutral pins are located on the same end of the tube, and power is supplied to that end. Single ended power tubes require a non-shunted socket. With single ended tubes, the pre-existing ballast should be removed to increase efficiency of the light.

In a double ended tube, the live and neutral pins are located on opposite sides of the tube, making one live end and one “dead” end. These tubes can use either non-shunted or shunted sockets.

Type A (Plug and Play) (Ballast Compatible) LED Tubes

Type A tubes make for the easiest switch from fluorescent to LED tube lighting, and with added simplicity comes a slightly steeper price tag. These tubes receive power from an internal driver. What makes them so easy is the fact that they are compatible with fluorescent ballasts, so there is no rewiring and no need to remove the ballast during installation. Type-A, or Plug and Play, LED tubes are double-ended power only.

T8 LED 4ft. Glass Tube, 15 Watt, Ballast-Compatible, 2100 Lumens by Zhejiang Hongyao Lighting Electrical Co. Ltd

Type B (Direct Wire) LED Tubes

Type B tubes use direct wire voltage. They have their own internal drivers and therefore do not utilize pre-existing fluorescent ballasts. Since you need to remove the ballast, you eliminate the risk of the ballast going bad in the future (which would then create more work anyways!). Also, the ballast is a power-consuming component, so eliminating the ballast results in energy saved and increased efficiency of your light. These tubes require non-shunted sockets to be installed, making installation a more time-consuming process than Type A tubes. Type B tubes are the highest efficiency option, and can have single or double-ended power.

T8 LED 4ft. Tube, 12 Watt, Direct Wire, 1684 Lumens with Frosted Lens; Single or Double Ended Power by Jen Lighting Corp.

Type A-B (Universal) LED Tubes

Type A-B tubes are a hybrid that offer the benefits of both Type A and Type B tubes. You can decide whether to keep the ballast or bypass it entirely. These tubes can either be “Plug and Play,” utilizing the pre-existing ballast and shunted socket; or they can be installed with direct line voltage. If you decide to utilize the ballast, it will likely fail eventually; however, just switch over to direct line voltage - no need to buy a new power tube! For flexibility and efficiency, Type A-B tubes are a great option.

T5 4ft. Glass LED Tube, 24 Watt, Direct Wire, Double Ended Power, 3200 Lumens with Frosted Lens by LumeGen

It's important to note: Not all LED tubes work with fluorescent ballasts. Please check with the manufacturer to see if your ballast is compatible.

We totally understand if you're ready to upgrade from your fluorescent tube lighting. The switch to LED improves energy efficiency and saves you money, but choosing the best LED power tube is not the easiest process. If you have any questions about retrofitting or ballast compatibility, feel free to give us a call at the number below!


New to LED lighting? Visit our helpful resources to learn more:

Learning Center - A convenient hub of tips, blogs, and history regarding all things lighting!

Lighting Terminology - A glossary of common terms to turn any beginner into a LED light pro!

LED Informative Videos - Brief informative videos on LED light topics

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