Project Guide

LED Retrofitting: How to Convert Fluorescent to LED

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. 
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.
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.

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.
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. 
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.
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.