Replacement LED Fixture for 4' Single Bulb Fluorescent Fixtures
June 14, 2021 9:46 PM   Subscribe

Can someone point me in the direction of the type of fixture I want to buy?

We have (4) single bulb fluorescent fixtures in our kitchen that are switched on-off all together with a single light switch. They are not working well and I would like to replace them with (4) similar LED fixtures that work in the same way - tied together so they are switched on-off with the light switch.

I am capable of doing the work myself, assuming that it is fairly straightforward. I imagine that one of the fixtures gets the power from the wiring from the panel, and that that the other three fixtures are somehow daisy-chained together from the first.
posted by The Architect to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Best answer: If you like the fixtures, you can get replacement LED tubes which fit. There are some that work with a ballast, so that you don't have to do anything, and some that require you to rewire the fixture to remove the ballast from the equation, which may be better if it's the ballast that's failing. Rewiring it is as easy as installing any other light fixture, though you may want to have a look at how it's wired before you commit. They work well.
posted by alexei at 11:59 PM on June 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You may be overthinking this - you can get standard mains voltage replacements for what you have and just use the wiring in the ceiling with no other changes.

If you like the fixture you have, you can buy drop in replacement led bulbs that go straight in where the fluorescent tube used to be. (Google 'led replacement fluorescent tube'.) Obviously if the fixture is the problem that isn't much help...

If you don't like the fixture and are replacing it then there are tons of mains voltage led strip light fixtures out there; search for that term.

If you're just removing the old light fixture with a new mains voltage one, and patching the new one onto the same wires, then the switching arrangement will stay exactly the same and you won't have to pull wires or anything complicated, just use the ones you find. It's also possible to find dimmable fixtures, if you want to go all posh and replace the switch with a dimmer at some point - again, you don't need to do anything with the wires in the ceiling other than use what is already there.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 12:06 AM on June 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: As mentioned above, the easiest way to do this would be to get drop-in LEDs that work off a ballast.

That said, if the lights aren't working well, there's a chance the ballasts are bad, if that's the case, you could get drop-in LEDs that work without a ballast. To install those, you usually just have to identify the hot and the neutral coming into the fixture, disconnect them from the ballast and connect them to the hot and neutral wires at the correct ends of the fixture and the hot and neutral going to the next light (assuming that connection is made in the fixture and not a junction box).

If you put in completely new fixtures, just follow the way the hots, neutrals and grounds were connected in the original fixtures.
posted by drezdn at 3:44 AM on June 15, 2021

Best answer: Also, if you do go with whole new fixtures, get some of these push in wire connectors and connect one end to the hot and the neutral that connects to the lamp and the other end to your hot and the neutral supplying power. This will give you a "disconnecting means" for your lamp.
posted by drezdn at 3:54 AM on June 15, 2021

Best answer: Using the existing ballasts is a bad idea if you can avoid it, they eat power and reduce the efficiency of the bulbs, and the ballasts themselves are often part of the problem, since they get hot and tend to cook over the years.

I switched out all the fluorescents here, snipping out the ballasts and wiring the lamps for 120V, with Hyperikon T8 "40 watt replacement" 18 watt bulbs. Out of two dozen, one arrived DOA, and the others have been running probably 4-6 hours a day for about four years without incident. The clear lens ones give a very harsh "spotting" effect which I solved by facing them at the fixture, which gave a very nice indirect and diffused light, but looks a bit strange in the fixture because you see the bulb as a dark bar.

This is a totally awesome upgrade for any fluorescent fixture.
posted by jgreco at 4:13 AM on June 15, 2021

Best answer: I replace all my workshop fluorescents with these.

They are trivial to install and very bright.
posted by donpardo at 7:02 AM on June 15, 2021

Best answer: Can you take one off to check it? Yes, generally electricity is 'daisy chained' between different outlets on the same circuit. However, beyond that concept, each light should be wired in box to be removed individually, not literally daisy chained together. Literal daisy chaining is how they did it in the old days. Modern way is to have short strands between each, with a connection in an electrical box.

Each individual light should a have a 3 wire connection in the ceiling - a black, white, and green.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:06 AM on June 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sorry - I couldn't pick a single best answer, so picked them all. Thanks everyone; very helpful.
posted by The Architect at 8:35 AM on June 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

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