Project Guide

LED Retrofitting: How to Convert Fluorescent to LED

1
Consider Your Safety
Safety goggles and gloves on a table

Whether you’re looking to upgrade to LED shop lights or LED wraparound lights in your space, there are a few things to consider. 


  • LED retrofitting can be dangerous since you’re working with electricity. If you’ve never performed electrical tasks before, consider working with a knowledgeable partner throughout this process. 
  • Homeowners who are ready to start replacing fluorescent light fixtures should work slowly and take the necessary precautions indicated to get the job done safely and correctly. 
2
Check the Power Source
A close up of a circuit breaker
  • Use a multimeter to check that the power source to your luminaire is between 120v and 277v depending on your location. 
  • Turn the power that goes to that light fixture off before moving ahead with this process.
  • Disconnect the power supply that connects to the fluorescent fixture ballast. 
  • Remove the ballast and the starter if applicable on your particular fixture.
3
Replace the Lamp Holders
A man replacing a lamp holder
  • Take the existing shunted lamp holders or tombstones out of the fluorescent lighting fixtures you want to upgrade. 
  • Replace the shunted lamp holders or tombstones with a non-shunted variety. 


Safety note: Using shunted lamp holders or tombstones when LED retrofitting can damage the bulbs or the fixture itself. Purchase the correct amount of non-shunted lamp holders before you begin the process of converting fluorescent to LED.

4
Wire the Fixture
Lighting wiring protruding from a hole in the ceiling
  • Mark the live end of the lighting fixture with a permanent marker so it’s easy to identify. Leave the lamp holders on the other end of the fixture unwired. 
  • Begin wiring by connecting the positive lead to one of the leads on the marked live end.
  • Wire the negative lead to the open lead on the live end side of the lamp holder. 
  • Take a few minutes to properly secure your connections with wire nuts.
  • Reconnect the luminaire to power. 
  • Double check your connections at this point.
5
Install the New LED Lamps
A person installing new LED lighting
  • Start installing your new LED lamps. Make sure that the end of the LED lamps marked with an “L” connect to the live end of your fixture.
  • Consider attaching a cautionary lighting replacement sticker to the inside of the fixture. This will remind you – or anyone doing future work – that the fluorescent fixtures have been re-wired to accept LED bulbs. 
6
Restore the Power
A woman's hand turning on a power switch
  • Turn the power back on. 
  • Your new LED lights should come up right away.
7
LED Retrofitting Considerations
A kitchen with LED lighting
  • LED retrofitting around your home or in the garage can save you money and give you brighter, better looking light for all sorts of tasks. 
  • By retrofitting LED lights, you’ll also be future-proofing your home and saving money replacing bulbs. Quality LED bulbs last 10 to 15 times longer than those old fluorescent styles on average.
  • New LED bulbs are also safer since broken fluorescent bulbs can expose you to mercury. 
  • LED retrofitting is generally a smart choice for virtually any space, and the project only takes a few hours.