Lighting has been an integral component of our lifestyle and it has enhanced it in ways where imagining a life without advanced lighting technology is impossible. Traditional lamps like incandescent and fluorescent bulbs have been a huge start as these lamps emphasised the growing need of lighting in all sectors of life. Now as the world has progressed the needs have consecutively increased to facilitate the constantly upgrading lifestyle.
LEDs were first introduced almost two decades ago and have revolutionised the market ever since. The first ever LED light fixture was a retrofitted LED tube. These tubes were made to replace older fluorescent tubes in homes and commercial spaces where they are still the most favourable medium of lighting in comparison to other traditional options.
What are retrofit LED light fixtures?
The concept of retrofitting LED light fixtures comes from LED technology integrating with traditional lamps or light fixtures. The first concept was an LED tube which replaced the usual fluorescent tube. It requires UL listing and is a plug n play option which directly replaces the fluorescent tube without making any modification to the fixture. The LED tube is compatible with the pre-existing ballast and it operates normally; it devised the way for the advancement of present day LED light fixtures.
Types of retrofit LED tubes
LED retrofit tubes are available under three UL listings and hybrid models. Such tubes are made to fit in the pre-existing fixture with little or no modification. The UL certification implies if the LED tube is compatible with a certain fluorescent fixture.
UL Type A
The type A being the first ever retrofit kit was a plug n play option. It is a ballast compatible tube and it does not require replacement of ballast with LED driver or rewiring of the fixture. The type A tube was a mere experiment and hence the conclusive drawback was the inefficacy of the old ballast. If the ballast fails the tube requires new ballast which just increases the maintenance cost.
UL Type B
UL Type B tube is a modification which requires rewiring of the older fixture as it has an internal driver. This tube is double ended with shunted and non-shunted ends with live and neutral wires present on either ends, at times both these wires are on the same end. It is much more efficient than UL Type A tubes as the internal LED driver has a longer lifespan unless there are abruptions caused by mains voltage.
UL Type C
UL type C is the advanced version of retrofit tubes where it has an external LED driver. They possess the characteristics of advanced LED technology and have been the most successful replacement. The driver is powerful enough to light up more than one tube or a few in a series. This type of LED tube is highly favourable in commercial setups as they are smart, efficient and super bright.
Hybrid ( UL Type A + B)
The hybrid model is a much better alternative than these individual tubes as it minimises the drawbacks of both of these tubes and the fixture can work regardless of the above mentioned circumstances. These tubes are made in T8, T12 sizes and have a liable application in domestic and commercial places.
To read more about LED tubes and their specification, visit this link.
Advantages of LED lighting
- Uniform and directional lighting
LED provides uniform lighting which creates a very diffused glowy light pattern that is easy on the eyes. The lens does not disperse the light in the surrounding and has a fixed beam angle which throws light in a pattern. Traditional lamps on the other hand disperse light and a huge amount of light is wasted in the surroundings before it reaches the point of illumination.
- Higher efficiency
LED light fixtures are highly efficient than traditional lamps which basically produce 10% light and waste 90% of the energy in producing heat. They also tend to malfunction a lot and require frequent replacement. On the other hand LEDs are energy efficient and produce 90% light and emit only a fraction of heat while keeping the fixture cool and functional.
- Low maintenance costs
The efficient working mechanism of LEDs has a large impact on frequent maintenance and replacement costs. The cost of maintenance is significantly reduced over the span of the years.
- Smart lighting technology
LED lighting is significantly smart and enhances the ambiance of the place they are installed in. These lights can produce both warm comforting light as well as bright daylight like light to enhance productive working conditions. The light temperature is measured on a kelvin scale ranging from 2500K to 6000K which produces warm yellow to bright white light. LEDs have a high colour rendering index which can be above 80 as opposed to fluorescent tubes which can only produce cool blue light. The higher colour rendering index enhances the texture of the objects and renders original colours which is important in everyday setup.
Conclusively the advantages of retrofitting traditional lamps with LEDs is quite immense and are quite visible instantaneously. Retrofitting options allow easy upgrades and are economical as well.