Ballast Bypass - Advantages of Direct Wire T8 LED Tubes


Since the launch of LED lights, the design of the T8 LED has been refined to now provide you with a reliable linear light source. There are multiple types of LED Tubes available, including Type A, Type B, and Hybrid.

The Type B T8 LED offers many advantages when compared to a traditional fluorescent bulb. Let’s start by looking into the quality of the light and the output that you receive with a Sunco T8 LED.


T8 LED Light Output

With a wide range of color temperatures, instant on light and a high lumen count, the Type B T8 LED Tube provides many benefits you don’t receive with a fluorescent tube.

With an instant on ability, Sunco T8 LEDs will provide instantaneous light instead of having to wait for your fluorescent tubes to heat up. The high lumen count of 2200 lm for the T8 LED Tube 18W means you’ll have bright light to focus on the task at hand.

With an LED bulb you do not have issues with discoloration or the fading of a light’s brightness. There is no depreciation of light quality over time with T8s.

LEDs also provide you with a wider range of color temperatures, so your office space is not filled with sickly, green light. Sunco T8s come in 4000K (Cool White), 5000K (Daylight), and 6000K (Daylight Deluxe, which appears silver) so you can light your space with the appropriate light quality.

LED T8s do not have the light quality degradation that occurs with fluorescent tubes. The dimming of aged fluorescents is caused by a loss of phosphors and mercury, neither of which is used in Sunco T8 LEDs. Phosphors coat the inside of fluorescent lamp tubes, while mercury liquid is used in vapor form in them. Also, there is no UV or IR emission in T8 LEDs due to the fact that an inert gas is not used inside the tube.

Light output is increased in Sunco T8s due to higher lumen count and a wide beam angle of 110-degrees to focus the light on the job at hand. Sunco T8s offer a bright, high lumen count. The T8 LED Tube Clear 18W includes a brightness of 2200 lm, while its 15W counterpart offers 1800 lm.

Sunco T8 LEDs offers CRI80+ for accurate color rendering and clear definition when compared to a fluorescent tube. High CRI of 80+ (measured on a scale of 0-100) is visually close to sunlight. It makes the colors and textures of an item illuminated by the T8 Tube stand out.

Accurate color rendering may not seem like a big advantage at first glance, but unnatural colors are recognized by the human eye when viewed under a low CRI light source. High CRI has its advantages in a task-oriented workspace or a retail space where you want to accurately reflect the colors and texture of the clothing or products you have on display.

The light quality you see is not the only advantage for LED T8s compared to traditional linear tubes. You can also benefit from a ballast bypass.

No Ballast = Energy Savings

The ballast manages the distribution of energy to ensure necessary voltage, current, and waveform to start and operate a fluorescent tube or HID lamp. T8 LEDs do not require this additional use of electricity, which means you immediately save energy by removing the ballast since you are not losing energy to ballast draw. Without a ballast, each retrofitted fixture consumes a few watts less. Think that doesn’t add up? If you are lighting every floor of a tall office building, a large warehouse facility, or other industrial space, you would notice an uptick in energy consumption with a ballast in play for each fixture.

Single end (SEP), direct wire Type B LED Tubes, such as the Sunco T8 LED, were developed as an improvement to make the lights even more energy efficient and also to avoid issues with ballast failure and replacement maintenance tasks. T8 Type B LEDs bypass the ballast, which reduces the amount of electricity used. This means Type B LED tubes are more efficient than any other type. The retrofit process may take slightly longer than a Type A in order to perform a ballast bypass add insert new non-shunted sockets (tombstones), but this effort is worthwhile over the long run and especially so with multiple linear tube fixtures in use.

In addition, with Type B T8 LEDs, there is no concern about ballast compatibility with bulbs like you might experience with other LED tube types. Direct-wired Type B pulls power from line voltage directly to the non-shunted tombstones and bypasses the ballast.

Ballasts can fail and are routinely replaced when they stop working. You would notice a failing ballast on a fluorescent tube when the light begins to blink rapidly or to diminish. Direct wire Type B LED Tubes (SEP) do not use a ballast.

On average, a fluorescent T8 tube would need to be replaced 3.33 times, compared to a single LED T8 tube. That’s another cost savings to add to the benefit of T8 LEDs. A reduction in maintenance costs and less energy consumed also adds up to savings for the end user. Especially when you consider that T8 LEDs last longer than traditional fluorescent bulbs.



Bulb Longevity

You can earn a higher return on investment (ROI) with LED tubes when compared to traditional bulbs. Fluorescent tubes can last from 7,000 to 15,000 hours. Our T8 LED Tubes have a 50,000 hour lifetime by comparison! Assuming the best case for that fluorescent tube, you would need about 3.33 fluorescent tubes to equal the lifetime of a T8. During this time period, you would also spend more on electricity.

The durability of LED tubes is also something to consider with T8s. Fluorescent tubes are fragile glass and can easily break. T8 LEDs also do not release harmful mercury vapors like fluorescent tubes. That means you can confidently place T8 LEDs in light fixtures when you retrofit a shop light.

LED tubes have another advantage over fluorescent. When used in high traffic areas with a lot of on/off switching, traditional fluorescent tubes tend to burn out faster. This is primarily due to a loss of an emission mix (on the filaments to assist with moving electrons throughout the gas inside the tube). LED Tubes, on the other hand, do not have those issues. They are also instant on so you do not have to wait for the lights to wake up and turn on.

In addition, LED Tubes can withstand lower temperatures. Sunco T8s (4°F-104°F operating temperature) are ideal for basements, garages, storage facilities, freezers, and other cold weather applications.


Buyer Benefits

With low wattage to deliver energy savings and reduce your operating costs, plus a long lifetime, T8 LEDs benefit the buyer. Other advantages provided by a T8 LED include certifications, moisture ratings, a generous warranty, and no special disposal required.

  • Certifications: Sunco T8s are UL Listed
  • Moisture Rating: Damp Rated (learn more about Wet vs. Damp Rating in our previous blog)
  • A/C Savings: LEDs do not contribute greatly to the heat in an office or workspace, so you save in the cost of air conditioning when compared to the heat generated by a fluorescent tube.
  • Disposal: Recyclable! No special disposal is required for Sunco T8s. Unlike fluorescent tubes where you need to arrange for special pickup, T8 LEDs offer non-hazardous disposal. We hope you choose to recycle your spent tubes.
  • Warranty: Sunco offers a 5-Year Warranty on our T8 LEDs


While some say that you should choose other types of LED linear tubes, due to the added cost of having an electrician retrofit existing features to accommodate a direct wire bulb, it does not take a lot of time for a licensed electrician to quickly rewire the line voltage on the light fixture after they remove the ballast. Type B T8 LED Tube (SEP) provide for a more efficient option with bypass ballast, they provide longevity with 50,000 lifetime hours and a host of durable attributes, and they provide you with non-hazardous disposal or recycling options.

Be sure to check out our blog on shunted vs. non-shunted tombstones.



NOTE: This article has been updated as of July 28, 2020 with the latest information. It was originally published on October 29, 2019.

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