House of Hacks

Saturday, September 16, 2017

How to convert fluorescent tubes to LEDs using ballast bypass (Part 2)


Description

Want to see how to convert fluorescent tubes to LEDs while bypassing the ballast? In a previous video, Harley showed a very easy but expensive way to convert fluorescent tubes to LED tubes. In this video, Harley shows a more involved, but typically less expensive, way to convert a fluorescent fixture to use LEDs involving a ballast bypass.

Ballast bypass, also called direct wired, involves removing the ballast and using LED tubes that run off of line voltage rather than the high-voltage from the ballast. Typically these bulbs are less expensive because they don’t have to deal with the higher voltage used by fluorescent tubes. This video gives instructions for how to wire the fixture to use these bulbs and provides a wiring diagram.

Convert fluorescent tubes to LEDs with the ballast (Part 1)

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For a written transcript, go to How to convert fluorescent tubes to LEDs using ballast bypass (Part 2)

Music under Creative Commons License By Attribution 3.0.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com
Incidental: "Acid Trumpet" by Kevin MacLeod at http://incompetech.com

Transcript

Today at the House of Hacks, we're going to go from this to this.

[Intro]

Hi Makers, Builders and Do-it-yourselfers.

Harley here.

In a previous video, I explained how to convert 8' long fluorescent fixtures from fluorescent tubes to LED lights in a very quick and easy way.

However, this way was pretty expensive. It involved just getting some ready-made 8' LED lights and those things are really pricey. For some reason, the 8' LED tube replacements are a whole lot more expensive than 2 4' LED replacement tubes. The 8' tube replacement are $60 each whereas I picked up a 4 pack of 4' ones for $24. I have no idea why. And they've been this way for quite a while. I picked up two pair last year I think it was, and they were $60 and I just picked up two pair yesterday and they're still $60. Same price. It hasn't moved at all. And it's pretty much the same price whether you buy it online or retail like I did. There's usually a few dollars off buying online but of course you have shipping and handling costs added to it so it ends up being a wash.

It's a real quick way to do it because you don't need to replace ballast, you don't need to rewire anything, you just plug them in in replacement of the existing bulbs. So, it's really quick. It's more expensive getting the bulbs that are designed for ballast.

However, in the 4' market you can buy tubes that work either with ballast or without ballast. And I have a fixture that needs some work on it. The ballast is making noise and the tubes are flickering and so I wanted to replace them with LEDs.

But because the ballast is making noise, I want to do a ballast bypass and remove the ballast altogether. And so I'm going to be demonstrating that in today's video. It is a little bit more work because you have to take the ballast out and rewire things a little bit, but it's not a whole lot more work and you do remove one more component that could possibly fail on you. So let's get started.

First remove the old bulbs.
It'd probably be a good idea to turn off the power before doing this.
Yeah, do as I say, not as I do.

Now take the fixture down. This will vary depending on how it's installed.
In my case, it's just sitting between the joists on some 2x4s.

Next disconnect the mains power.
Be sure to have the power turned off.
You don't want to be working with live power at this point.

On the bench, the fixture needs to be opened up.
This will vary depending on the type of lamp you have.
In my case, it's just a matter of removing two nuts.

And then the case just opens up.

Here we see where the sockets are connected to the ballast.
Since we're removing the ballast, all these connectors get taken apart.
We need to do this on both sides of the fixture.

And we need to remove the mains wire from the ballast input.

Once all the electrial connections are separated, we can physically remove the ballast.
In this case, there are two screws with nuts on them.
Other designs may have a single sheet metal screw on one side and a slot on the other.

Now we need a short piece of wire to run from the center where the mains are connected to one end of the fixture.
I'm using some scrap 14/2 TPS cable I had in the parts bin.
If you have to buy some, 3 feet should be plenty.

Now I prepare all the ends by stripping off about 3/4" of insulation from each wire and twisting the strands so they don't fray as easily.

I also strip the insulation from the 14/2 cable.

Now comes the most technical part of this project.
Here we see each socket has two wires coming out of it.
On one end of the fixture, we want to connect one wire from each socket to the white wire and the other one to the black wire.

It's probably easiest to see this in a pictoral diagram.
Hit pause on the video if you need to study this.

Because I have four sockets on this fixture, I used some pigtails to keep from having a huge number of wires all in one wire nut.
When it's all put together, it looks like this.

The sockets on the other end of the fixture don't need any connection.
I just put wire nuts over the ends of the wires to keep them from potentially shorting anything out.
And then zip tied them together to keep them neat and tidy.

Finally I stripped the insulation back from the other end of the 14/2 cable.

We can see here, I'm not using the copper ground from the new cable, but the existing ground that goes to the fixture.

And now it's a matter of reassembling the fixture.

And reconnecting the mains.
Again, make sure the power is off before doing this!

Reinstall the fixture.
In my case it's just a matter of dropping it back into place between the joists.

Finally, install the bulbs.
These particular bulbs have only one end that connects to the sockets with power, so if they don't work the first time, turn the bulbs around end for end.

Turn on the power and enjoy your new lights!

So give me a thumbs up if you found that helpful. I really appreciate it.

And I really thank you for joining me on this continuing creative journey that we're on.

Until next time, go make something.

Perfection's not required.

Fun is!