Which is Better, LED or Fluorescent T8 Bulbs?

1000Bulbs.com explores the changing trends in the lighting industry and the progression towards more efficient lighting among T8 bulbs. But whichever bulb may work for you, we know that often the color of the bulb, may not. And that’s where LEE Filters can help! With over 300 colors and diffusion options to choose from, you can creatively transform the mood of a room just by using our gels! Visit our site HERE for to learn more on the endless possibilities in creating your ideal interior or exterior lighting design with LEE Filters’ Fluorescent Sleeves !


In the past few years, we’ve seen many light bulb phase-outs aimed at removing inefficient incandescent and fluorescent bulbs.  We’ve also seen companies rolling out newer, more efficient bulbs and lamps such as LED T8s.

Overall, the lighting industry and civilization itself are progressing

toward lighting being as energy efficient as possible.  A true increase

in efficiency, means decreasing energy losses without sacrificing

current levels of lighting brilliance and utility.  After all, if it’s

just about using less energy, we could dim all of our lights for the

same effect.  Progress means that lumens, color, and usability increase

or stay at their current level as energy and production costs decrease.

So how do T8 light bulbs stack up with the current forward motion?  Are

LED T8s really any better than using your current fluorescent lamps?


Fluorescent tubes have had a very long history with many advances

made in their design, production, and efficiency.  At this point,

they’re only slightly behind LED lights on efficiency and lifespan, but,

barring some major technological breakthrough, there’s little we can do

to truly improve fluorescents without developing a new technology

altogether.  Fluorescent tubes now have much higher lumen and CRI values

than previous lamps.  They also last longer, use less energy, and have

improved on-times thanks to better electrical ballasts.

And even with all of these improvements, fluorescent T8s are still

inexpensive on a per-bulb basis (the ballasts themselves can be fairly


However, some of a fluorescent’s strengths come with disadvantages.  

The newer ballasts last longer and help to improve lamp life, but while

the bulbs are inexpensive, a good ballast is costly.  That same ballast

introduces an additional failure point, since it will eventually wear

out.  No matter how efficient a fluorescent is, flickering and warm-up

time are still hallmarks of a fluorescent bulb.  Both problems are

compounded by cold temperatures.  And, while they contain less mercury than a can of tuna fish, fluorescent lamps do contain mercury and require careful disposal.


Meanwhile, LED T8s have fewer failure points because they are

self-driven and can be connected directly to a building’s line voltage.

It should be said that direct-wire LED T8s should always be installed by a licensed electrician.

Even so, they’re easy to install, with newer bulbs being designed to

work with existing T8 ballasts for end-user installation without a

licensed electrician. Unfortunately, each individual bulb is far more

expensive than a fluorescent tube. So, if fluorescents are already efficient and long-lasting, what benefit would an LED T8 give?

For one, LED T8s aren’t as fragile.  Most LED T8s are made from

plastic rather than glass, without any tiny filaments or internal

phosphor paints to break or erode.  You’ll also find that, with rare

exceptions (typically caused by incompatible dimmers), LEDs do not flicker

when turned on or while in use.  Once the light is active, it’s active

at full brightness, without a warm-up period.  LEDs work under a greater

range of temperatures compared to fluorescents, and they aren’t

negatively affected by cold.  Standard LED tube lights are also safe for

UV-sensitive areas because, like most LED light bulbs, they don’t emit

an appreciable amount of UV.

It’s true that the difference in efficiency and longevity between

high-efficiency fluorescents and LED T8s is marginal, but there is a

difference.  While LEDs are more efficient and longer lasting, they can

be expensive.  Overall, it’s best to use fluorescent lights when you

need to install many lights in a temperate area, and LED T8s when you

need fewer lights, are lighting a colder environment (where fluorescent

lights can be problematic) or for color intensive rooms.  You may also

want to use LED T8s if you’re one of the few people sensitive to the

high frequency flickering of a fluorescent light.

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