If you’re reading this article, it’s probably safe to assume that you’re considering a switch to LED lights. That’s great news, because not only is doing so good for your pocket, but it’s good for the environment too!
However, it’s important to get LED lights installed correctly the first time. Because they are different from your average bulb, there are a lot of things you need to consider in your transition. One of the aspects you need to think about is ballasts.
In this article, we’re going to explore whether LED bulbs need a ballast by looking at:
- Understanding LED bulbs and ballasts
- Some benefits and drawbacks of using ballasts with LEDs
- Situations when you should use ballasts with LEDs.
Let’s dive right in!
- Do LED Bulbs Need A Ballast?
- Understanding LED Bulbs and Ballasts
- Pros and Cons of Using Ballasts with LED Bulbs
- When to Use Ballasts with LED Bulbs
Do LED Bulbs Need A Ballast?
The answer is no – LED Bulbs do not need a ballast. Ballasts were created for traditional bulbs to limit the amount of current in an electrical circuit and prevent it from rising to an unsafe level.
LEDs don’t need ballasts because they are more recent inventions and function differently. Instead of a ballast, LED lights have LED drivers – an electrical device that regulates the power and responds to the bulb’s changing needs.
However, there are also ballast-compatible LED bulbs that were created to ease the transition. If this is the option for you, the type of ballasts you’ll get will depend on your needs.
Understanding LED Bulbs and Ballasts
LED bulbs and ballasts are two products that normally have nothing to do with each other. However, as we’ve mentioned above, there are certain LED lights out there that do function with ballasts.
Type A: LED Bulbs Compatible with Ballasts
Type A “plug and play” LEDs have been designed with a pre-installed specialized driver, which means the fixture will work with pre-installed ballasts.
This makes the installation pretty straightforward, and you can generally replace existing fluorescent lights with ease. Still, it’s important to note that not all Type A LEDs will work well with your ballasts.
Type B: LED Bulbs That Require Direct Wiring
Unlike other types of lights, LEDs use direct currents – which is why instead of needing ballasts, LEDs require an AC-to-DC converter. When using Type B LEDs, you often need to rewire the fixture to supply line voltage directly to the lamp holders or sockets.
Type C: LED Bulbs with Their Own Drivers, Not Requiring a Ballast
Type C LED bulbs are ideal for people who aren’t ready to retrofit and rewire their fixtures for Tybe B but still want to maximize efficiency. This external drive is a great option as it has excellent system efficacy, compatibility, and overall performance.
It also helps to offset labor and installation costs while still being an efficient option. The LED system can be integrated with a robust control functionality as well!
Pros and Cons of Using Ballasts with LED Bulbs
If you’re scratching your head over whether you should use a ballast alongside your LED light, check out these benefits and drawbacks. Depending on what you’re working with, ballasts could be a non-starter!
Benefits of Using Ballasts with LED Bulbs
The most attractive quality of ballasts with LED bulbs is the ease of transition. Keeping the ballast is the best option if you’re staying in the house for a short period or if you’re only able to pay a small amount in terms of upfront costs. If you don’t want to rewire and pay for an electrician, then using a ballast is probably the best option for you.
Drawbacks of Using Ballasts with LED Bulbs
Ballasts will eventually fail and require replacement – something that only an electrician is qualified to do. As such, it will cost more in the long run to keep these ballasts.
Additionally, they use more power to run than traditional LEDs, so if you’re switching to LEDs for the sake of your power bill then it makes more sense to set it up right the first time by ditching the ballasts from the get-go.
When to Use Ballasts with LED Bulbs
While LEDs generally work fine without ballasts (and certain types don’t even need one), there are situations where it makes sense to use a ballast alongside your LEDs.
Retrofitting Existing Fixtures with Ballast-Compatible LED Bulbs
You might be reading all of this and thinking, “I’m not in this place for much longer – I don’t need to invest in getting rid of ballasts. I just need something straightforward.” Well, that’s okay! That’s why there are different options.
How many people does it take to change a ballast-compatible LED bulb with an existing fixture? Just one! It’s extremely simple. All you need to do is check the LED package to see if it’s compatible with your ballasts, and then you’re good to go.
Another option could be the Type C with the external driver, which would also help save money.
New Installations without Existing Ballasts
If you have a new installation, the penny-saving option would be to use Type B lights. Since these lights already have built-in drivers, you won’t need to purchase ballasts.
However, if you’re working with an installation that might find uses other than LED lights in the future, it would make sense to use a ballast to preserve its versatility.
So, no, an LED bulb doesn’t need a ballast – but you might! While the world is transitioning into greater use of LEDs, it doesn’t mean the change makes sense in terms of time or money for everybody.
Fortunately, there are other options for you to choose if you aren’t in a place to rewire your fixtures!
Hopefully, you now understand what type of LED bulb best fits your needs, as well as the factors you need to consider when making lighting choices in the future!
If you’re making the switch, just know that LED lights’ efficiency, lifespan, and versatility make them a great choice for any home.