Monday, November 30, 2015

Bypassing the Ballast and LED Fluorescent Tubes

RV fluorescent tubes come in two standard sizes, 18" and 12". The TechnoRV 18" tubes have two rows of LED's whereas the 12" tubes have a single row. Installing your LED tubes is a very simple process. First, remove the fixture's plastic cover. This is usually done by pushing on one of the sides until it pops clear of the side of the fixture. Next, remove the fluorescent tubes by gently pulling on them. 
The TechnoRV LED tubes are not polarity dependent so you can install them in either orientation. But first you will need to pull off the little plastic covers that are on the pins at each end. Next, push the tubes into the fixture exactly as the previous tubes were installed. Most fixtures have horizontal slots meaning you simply push the tubes up into the fixture. Some have side facing slots meaning that you have to push the LED tube in and then move it to the side to install it in the slots. If you try this you will notice that the LED's would then be facing the wrong way. The fix is to pull the plastic at each end of the tube and twist the mounting by 90 degrees. Your LED tube will then be orientated the correct way in the fixture. 

Directional Lighting

You don't generally think of fluorescent tubes as being directional. However, because their LED replacements have the LED's all on one side, they do tend to throw the light in that direction. 

The TechnoRV LED tubes allow you to go one step further. Even if you don't need to twist the ends because of your fitting, you can do the same thing to point the tube's LED's in a particular direction. Perhaps there is part of a room that needs more light, or you'd like more light over a table or food preparation area. By twisting the ends you can do just that. Just remember to pull the end as you twist (this feature is only available on the 18" tubes, not the 12"). 

Bypassing the Ballast

Almost all fluorescent tubes require some form of ballast to operate. A ballast is usually nowadays electronic and provides a high frequency AC current to the tube to increase its efficiency while limiting the current flow. 

Most LED replacements require you to bypass the ballast (i.e. remove it from the circuit). You will notice from the instructions above that you do not need to bypass the ballast with the Eco-LED tubes. This is a big advantage for people who are concerned about the ease of installation. 

The down side is that having the ballast in the circuit does reduce the brightness of the LED's by approximately 20%. If you want to get the most performance from your LED's you will need to bypass the ballast. It's not hard and we do sell a bypass kit, but it's pretty straightforward. Here's how you do it. 

Remove the Ballast Cover.

There are many different types of fluorescent fixtures. The more modern variety have a shiny ballast cover which needs to be removed by drilling out two of the rivets (or cutting if you have the right tools). 

The older variety is easier as it has a cover which can be removed just by squeezing it together. 

Disconnect the Ballast.

The ballast will generally have 4 wires (two at either end) which need to be disconnected (just snip through them after making sure that the light is turned off!).

Tie each end together.

The connectors at each end of the fitting have 4 wires (one to each slot). All 4 of these at each end need to be tied together using either a twist cap or better still, a terminal block (available from Lowe's or Home Depot).

Run power to each end.

Now all you need to do is to run power to each end. It doesn't really matter which end you take the +ve or -ve to, just choose which ever is easiest. Just remember that at one end the power has to go through the switch first, otherwise your light will be on all the time!

Replace Ballast Cover or Lens

Finally, replace the ballast cover (you don't have to as the LEDs all face downwards, but it does make the installation look "neater" in my opinion. Slide in the LED tubes and replace the lens cover. Switch on and bask in the bright crisp LED light.

For more information on LED Fluorescent lights, visit or contact us at 866-324-7915.