How to Bypass Ballast for LED Tube?

Maybe you need better lighting or simply desire more efficiency in your LED tube, either way you need to bypass your ballast. While removing or bypassing ballast from the power circuit is easy to do, it is also easy to make a mess of your home’s lighting. The following post scrutinizes all the possible ways of bypassing the ballast successfully. Read on to learn the process on how to bypass ballast for LED tube.

Why you should remove ballast?        

In any LED transition, you will find that there are several options on what you can do with the ballast. Some manufacturers will fix LED lights directly onto the ballast and replace the light tube inside. Electricians prefer this option as it allows them to work on your dime by replacing ballasts in future. Here are some of the reasons why bypassing or removing ballast is important in an LED transition.

Save Money

Ballasts tend to take energy to power as they help with regulating the current to your light source. Energy is often lost as it transfers to ballast thus increasing the amount of electricity being used. When you eliminate ballasts from the transition your lamp wattage will be the exact listed on the LED retrofit and this saves you a lot of electricity usage on your utility bill. You will not pay for up to 20% that would otherwise be consumed by the ballast. Also, you will not have to pay for labor or parts for maintenance of ballasts that typically have a 3-year life span.

Save Time

By bypassing or removing the ballast, you remove the extensive labor that it takes for their maintenance. They will eventually go bad and need replacement. The time and expense that your team or electrician will devote to these projects could be redirected elsewhere thus saving you both time and money.

Promotes Safety

Anytime there are electrical fixtures, there are safety hazards that you must consider. When you hire professionals you can bypass and install LEDs with ease and that is a great worry off your shoulder. Removing or bypassing your ballasts will keep electricity consumption in your home at optimum efficiency.

How to Bypass Ballast for LED Tube?

What you need to follow in this tutorial?

You will need the following items to bypass ballast on your LED tube:

  • Wire cutter
  • Nut driver or socket wrench
  • Non-contact voltage tester
  • Wire connectors (wire nuts)
  • Wire strippers

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1: Stay Safe

The first step in taking care of ballast is to turn off the power. Simply switching off the light by flipping the light switch to the off position will not do it. You will have to find the breaker box and determine the breaker switch for the power in that section then turn it off.  This will help neighbors, children and enemies from accidentally switching the power on while you are rerouting the wires.

You can also work with the ‘lock-out, tag out’ approach to turn off the breaker thus disconnecting the power to that fixture. Tape a note on the breaker to let other people know that you are working on a fixture and to keep the breaker off for safety. Inform other people in the household what is going on for enhanced safety. Ensure that you have eye protection to protect you from fluorescent bulb shatter or any debris that may cause damage.

Step 2: Remove the Bulbs

You may need to remove the fixture cover to see the bulb. In some places, fluorescent bulbs are considered dangerous as they contain mercury. Ballast should not be discarded in the bin and must be taken to disposal centers.

This said, carefully remove the bulb to expose the ballast.

Step 3: Locate your ballast and Remove it

In many LED fixtures, the ballast is covered by a casing so you have to remove the tubes and unscrew the casing to get the ballast. Remove the case, lenses or lamps that prevent you from accessing the ballast and set them aside.

This will help you expose enough of the black and white wires from the center so you can reach the socket wires.

Step 4: Rewire and remove the ballast

A hot wire typically carries the power to the fixture and is covered in black or red to indicate ‘hot’ or ‘live’ wire. A neutral wire is a white colored wire that completes the circuit back to the electrical panel. Once you have identified the live wire then the neutral will be on the same side. You will need to cut these wires close to the ballast as they are the input wires that send power to that fixture. Leave the longer wire that comes from the fixture for attachment back on the main power lines from the building.

The next step is to cut the socket lead wires. These are mostly colored red and blue, and you will find them on the other side of the ballast. They connect to the wires going out of the ballast to the sockets and provide power to the lamps. Support the ballast with one hand to prevent falling and remove the nuts bolting it using a socket wrench or nut driver. Remove the ballast from the fixture. You should discard this properly.

Step 5:  Connect the input wires to the output wires

Strip about an inch of the colored insulation off the remaining wires. The input wires, both hot and neutral, are black and white and coming from the building. They need to be connected to the output neutral and hot wires coming from the light fixtures. Each of these hot wires from the fixture (including the multiple lamps in a fixture are equal to multiple sockets thus multiple hot wires) requires connecting to the hot wire from the building. The same connection should be made between the neutral wire from the building and the neutral socket wires.

You can achieve this by using push-in connectors or wire nuts that will screw on to complete the circuit of power. Kindly note that T8 LED tubes will need power on one end and fixtures with more than one light will also have more than one set of wires on an end of the ballast. You should connect the input wires to one set of the neutral and hot wires.

Step 6: Check and track

Your ballast bypass is now complete. You will note, however, that if there is any magnetic ballast in your fixture’s casing, then the best solution is to find a separate starter kit and disconnect this as well. This may be a little complicated and confusing for some people. It is okay if none of these things mentioned make any sense to you. If you are confused or find yourself questioning whether your wiring set up fits this set of instructions, please seek the services of an electrician. Call a lighting expert if in doubt or hesitation to stay safe.

Pro tips

There are things that will be helpful for you. Here are the top points to consider when learning how to bypass ballast for LED tube.

  • In the future, the bulbs will not work if someone mistakenly installs a fluorescent bulb into the fixture. It will be ok but there will be no light as it is a lot like what happens when the ballast dies in any fluorescent tube. In this case, place a sticker on the wiring cover to let others know that the fixture is wired for LED only thus contains no ballast.
  • Another great idea is to take a photo of the ballast and the wiring for future reference when installing the new ballast or just future work. Label the fixture and take picture. This way, when you need to make another ballast bypass, you will see what parts go where without much fuss.
  • The most notable of tips is that you should never attempt to install electrical equipment if lacking the expertise. It is recommended that you seek the services of a professional who can handle electrical equipment correctly and safely before proceeding with their reconstruction.

Conclusion

You can easily convert your fluorescent fixture into LED lighting without needing an expensive or comprehensive installation. LED tubes are great for those who wish to have high energy savings and minimal installation time.  When you bypass the ballast, the fixture will reduce energy use and eliminate the need for checking ballast compatibility. In the end, any additional maintenance savings will be realized since you will not have to replace ballast.

It is time for you to decide if this is the ideal lighting solution for you and take a step in energy efficient lighting for your home. If you have any questions about bypassing your ballast, do not hesitate to contact us. We are happy to help you through the process. We hope you liked this article. Share with friends and family who’d like to know more about bypassing ballast for LED tubes.

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