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Thread: Best upgrade path for troffers?

  1. #1

    Default Best upgrade path for troffers?

    Our duplicate bridge club needs to upgrade lighting in a hanging ceiling. Our building is about 3000sf populated with 40-year old 2' x 4' troffers that each hold 4 T8s. They're getting pretty unreliable and we've raised enough money to do something about them. What's our best upgrade path? Recommendations for products? Common gotchas?

    Thanks in advance, Gordon

  2. #2
    Enlightened KXA's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best upgrade path for troffers?

    LED troffer kits. My local Trader Joe's did this and it looks good. Try to go with a warmer color like 3500K which is less glaring. As to brand, I can't recommend any at this time. (LED tubes are not a good choice, and should be avoided. They are cheap...and that's the problem.)

  3. #3
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best upgrade path for troffers?

    I've installed more than 100 LED tubes from a local commercial supplier at the local makerspace and we haven't had an issue yet. Part of the trick is to avoid buying from typical retailers such home improvement centers, the likes of wal-mart, as well as the cheap fleabay/'zon sellers. The LED tubes that retailers sell are typically more than twice as expensive and exclusively drop-in, meaning that you're forever dependent upon that ballast. Fleabay/'zon tubes tend to be low-quality with the attendant reliability issues.

    The tubes I installed were all direct-wire 120-277VAC (or will work with most electronic ballasts) 4000K/5000K, 80 CRI, 18W/2100lm. Nearly a year in and no issues. Because of our availability of volunteer labor, our ROI was only about a year vs retrofitting the expiring magnetic-ballast T12 fixtures with T8s - both require modifications to the fixture.

    Cree recently announced the ZR-RK retrofit kit, which has output to match 2-tube fixtures (but not quite 4-tube fixtures). Pricing hasn't been announced, but their marketing is promising an attractive price and 4-minute complete in situ retrofitting. I'm personally hoping for a sub-$75 price.
    Last edited by idleprocess; 06-20-2017 at 06:12 PM.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  4. #4

    Default Re: Best upgrade path for troffers?

    So you're saying keep the troffers, upgrade the tubes? What about something like this? http://lighting.cree.com/products/in...ree-flat-panel

    Thanks, Gordon

  5. #5
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best upgrade path for troffers?

    Quote Originally Posted by gajslk View Post
    So you're saying keep the troffers, upgrade the tubes? What about something like this? http://lighting.cree.com/products/in...ree-flat-panel

    Thanks, Gordon
    Those aren't retrofits, they're new fixtures.

    At issue is your budget, local building codes, and your insurance. Retrofits are popular when capital expenditure is constrained but you have low- or no-cost labor available to perform the work. Because they retain the original fixture, they're nominally considered maintenance, thus not required by building codes / insurance to have a licensed and bonded professional do the installation unlike new fixtures.

    Purpose-built fixtures will typically perform better than retrofits and won't compromise on aesthetics quite so much; they just have the labor component for most commercial users installing them in existing facilities.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  6. #6

    Default Re: Best upgrade path for troffers?

    Gotcha. Thanks

  7. #7

    Default Re: Best upgrade path for troffers?

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess View Post
    Those aren't retrofits, they're new fixtures.

    At issue is your budget, local building codes, and your insurance. Retrofits are popular when capital expenditure is constrained but you have low- or no-cost labor available to perform the work. Because they retain the original fixture, they're nominally considered maintenance, thus not required by building codes / insurance to have a licensed and bonded professional do the installation unlike new fixtures.
    Replacing a fluorescent tube with an LED retrofit tube that works with a fluorescent ballast is maintenance. Touching absolutely anything regarding the electrical in that fixture is not maintenance and requires a licensed electrician almost everywhere. That would include cutting out the ballast and wiring AC directly to the tombstones and/or replacing the fluorescent ballast with an LED driver for tubes (some tubes have the LED driver built in, some use an external driver).

  8. #8
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best upgrade path for troffers?

    Quote Originally Posted by ssanasisredna View Post
    Replacing a fluorescent tube with an LED retrofit tube that works with a fluorescent ballast is maintenance. Touching absolutely anything regarding the electrical in that fixture is not maintenance and requires a licensed electrician almost everywhere. That would include cutting out the ballast and wiring AC directly to the tombstones and/or replacing the fluorescent ballast with an LED driver for tubes (some tubes have the LED driver built in, some use an external driver).
    Well that's unfortunate because in my experience licensed electricians charge so much for their labor as to alter the ROI for projects like these to the point of unfavorability.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  9. #9

    Default Re: Best upgrade path for troffers?

    I think you're best bet, especially since you're on a tight budget, is hybrid LED tubes. You can find some that are compatible with your current ballasts, so they're a straight bulb to bulb replacement. And when the ballast fails, you can just bypass it without needing to buy new bulbs.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Best upgrade path for troffers?

    I have a couple 2x2 ceiling mount lights in the kitchen. Each contains a pair of 40W T12 U-Bend fluorescent tubes & a ballast. Id like to convert these to LED. I thought about retrofitting each fixture with four 24 LED tubes & bypass the ballast. Would also need to add tombstone sockets opposite the existing ones in order to hold up the other end of the 24 LED tubes.

    When searching I saw several kits that use LED strip lighting with a separate power supply. Some strips were attached magnetically & some were screwed on.

    Ive read that you may not need as many lumens with LED tubes because the LEDs face downward & consequently all/most of the light goes where its needed. Im presuming the same can be said about LED strip lighting.

    One conversion video used 3- 24 LED tubes (instead of 4) and a new reflector. Im presuming because fewer lumens were needed. Some of the strip lighting conversions use 3 strips & some use 4. I would think 4 rows of tubes or strips would provide more even lighting no matter which conversion was used.

    Another option is replacing the whole fixture with a flat panel type. These must be gaining in popularity because even the Big Box store by me advertises them.

    Any comments, suggestions, recommendations, pros & cons of the different methods? Thanks in advance.

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