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LED vs. Fluorescent Tube Lights - Should You Make The Switch?

Mitchell Elworthy

Do the words fluorescent tube lights make you think of dingy offices or daggy kitchen designs?

Tube lights may have had a bap rap but have their place in modern interior design. They've moved on from the ones that used to flicker before they died. LED technology promises to bring them firmly into the modern age.

Join us as we explore LED vs fluorescent tube lights and see which comes out as the winner.

How Long Do They Last?

To be fair, the battle of LED vs fluorescent tube lights probably won't be won over how long they last.

Under normal conditions, both types last for a very long time. Fluorescent tube lights should last over 24,000 hours. That's around 3 years, and that's at the lower end of the scale.

LED batten lights beat that, with a minimum of 40,000 hours expected from tube lights. They're often on for many hours a day, but you can still expect years and years of use from them.

Some manufacturers are so confident in their bulbs that they offer 10-year standard warranties. With average use, LED lights will be likely to last for up to twenty years. 

How Energy Efficient Are They?

This is where LED really starts to take the lead.

Fluorescent tube lights were the energy-efficient models of their day. They use 1/3 to 1/5 the electrical power of incandescent bulbs and usually last about 10 times longer. However, they cannot compete with LED lights.

LED and convention bulbs have a wattage rating. This indicates the amount of electricity it takes to produce a certain level of brightness.

Tube lights are generally very bright, so use more energy. However, a bright LED tube light uses 18W and gives off 1,720 lumens. This is more than a standard 40W fluorescent bulb!

Swap your fluorescent tube lights for LED lights and your energy cost will drop by more than 50%. This is with no drop in brightness. They are simply much more energy efficient.

How Easy Are They to Install?

It is very easy to switch from a conventional fluorescent tube light to an LED light. Simply follow these steps to install the LED tube light in a fixture with conventional ballast:

- Remove the old fluorescent tube

- Remove the starter

- Insert the new LED starter

- Insert the new LED tube light

The fittings are designed so that you can make the switch as easily as that. Fittings with an electronic ballast may not need the LED starter installing. Check the instructions that come with the LED bulb when you purchase it.

How Does the Quality of the Light Compare?

The light from fluorescent tube lights hasn't had a great reputation. Many people find it cold, harsh and depressing. There's actually a scientific reason for this. 

We work best under a light that is similar to the sun. The light the sun produces is full-spectrum light. That means it contains all the colours in the spectrum.

Fluorescent tube lights produce a much more limited spectrum. These are mainly reds, greens and blues. And this light can give us the blues. 

Some research suggests that fluorescent lighting may also contribute to eye disease. This is because they emit UV light which can be damaging to the eyes. 

We instinctively recognize this as artificial. Fluorescent light also flickers. Although most people can't see this, it can lead some people to develop headaches and other issues.

LED lights, on the other hand, do not flicker. They produce a light that is more similar to the light of the sun. 

LED lights also rate more highly on the Colour Rendering Index. This compares how well artificial light sources render colours when compared with sunlight. The closer a light source scores to 100, the more natural feeling the light is.

LED tube lights have a Colour Rendering Index of 80, which is good. They are also available in warm and cool white variants, depending on your preference. Cool light is best in office environments, where clear vision is of paramount importance. 

How Easy Are They to Recycle?

LED lights are much easier to recycle than their fluorescent tube light counterparts. 

Fluorescent lights contain many hazardous substances. These include potentially toxic chemicals like mercury. They're super brittle and fragile, and if they break, you can't recycle them. 

They require a specialist hazardous waste disposal unit to process them because of the presence of toxic materials. 

LED tube lights last much longer, so you need to buy fewer of them and recycle them less frequently. When they no longer work, they can be recycled at local council facilities. Specialist lighting recycling services may even collect them for recycling.

LED lights also contain fewer hazardous chemicals. The aluminium components can be easily recycled, and the electronic components can also be repurposed. 

LED lights use very strong plastic rather than glass. This is much less likely to shatter, so it is much safer. You can also recycle the plastic. 

Where Can I Use Tube Lights at Home?

Tube lights are very practical where you need task lighting. Different parts of our home serve different functions, and the type of light they produce is great where work is going on.

Consider tube lights when choosing lights for your garage and kitchen. They provide an all-encompassing light that's tough to replicate with other types of fittings. They're also great for under-cupboard lighting.

It's easy to make the switch from fluorescent to LED tube lights at home. They also offer more interior design possibilities, as they are dimmable and produce no UV radiation. 

LED vs Fluorescent Tube Lights - The Winner Is Clear

In the battle of LED vs fluorescent tube lights, there was only ever going to be one winner - LEDs. They last much longer, use less energy and therefore cost you less money. They're kinder to the environment as they're much easier to recycle. 

The Lighting Outlet has Australia's online largest range. That includes fluorescent and LED tube light options. 

Check out our range and find your perfect lighting today.

Convert Your T8 fluorescent tubes to LED

So, you've read all this, understand the benefits of LED and want to make the switch? We don't blame you!
It's actually a lot easier than you think. We've even made a video guiding you on converting your flurescent tubes to the LED. Check it out below.