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Internal Driver vs. Instant Start for LED T8 Tube

LED T8 Tubes
LED T8 Tubes

LED T8 tubes, which used to be exclusive to fluorescent technology, are the new standard for commercial and household lighting. These tubes are ideal for replacement, emitting the same amounts of light as fluorescent T8s yet using a fraction of the power and lasting up to three times longer. LED T8 tubes are also mercury-free, dimmable, more efficient, and have high-quality directional light. When replacing your fluorescent tubes with LEDs for your home or workspace, it is important to be aware of these two types of technologies:

Internal Driver
T8 lamps with internal drivers are 1 of 2 ideal energy saving choices when upgrading traditional linear T8 or T12 fluorescent lamps in fixtures. With internal drivers, the ballasts are removed from the fixture and the power is wired direct to the sockets. Since no power is wasted on the ballast, these type of tubes tend to be more efficient. Consumers also experience less long term maintenance costs since you have one less part to maintain in the future by eliminating the ballast. These LED T8 tubes are designed to provide appropriate light levels while utilizing a dedicated internal driver. However, some cons associated with internal drivers include: required electrical modifications, limited dimming, dangerous installation and higher installation costs.

Instant Start
T8 lamps that are instant start compatible require no rewiring of the fixture. Since this step is not necessary, instant start tubes offer a simple way to replace the fluorescent lamp with your new LED lamp. Instant start ballasts ignite lamps by applying a significant voltage across the lamp during starting. However, no cathode heating is applied before or after the lamp ignited. The high voltage applied across the lamps typically ignites them within 50 milliseconds. Emissive material is also released during this since the cathodes are not heated with instant start ballasts. It is the most energy efficient type, but yields the fewest lamp-start cycles, as material is blasted from the surface of the cold electrodes each time the lamp is turned on. Instant-start ballasts are best suited to applications with long duty cycles, where the lamps are not frequently turned on and off.