Switching from fluorescent-based lighting to LEDs is becoming a no-brainer. Improved lighting quality, significantly higher energy efficiency and reduced maintenance due to longer lifespans are all factors weighing in LED technology’s favor. However, the choice of which LED option to choose from, especially with the ubiquitous commercial office troffer, can be a bit more complicated. Whether to opt for retrofitting the existing fixture housing with new LED internals or purchase and install an entirely new LED fixture is a choice many facilities professionals are pondering these days.

The retrofit process involves stripping out existing fluorescent tubes and tube holders (aka “tombstones”), along with ballasts and wiring. New LED light sources are then installed – some even attach magnetically to existing metallic troffers, with no screws required. The light source is wired to its respective driver, which might also attach magnetically, and the diffuser is put back into place. In all, the process can take as little as 10-15 minutes per fixture.

Considering the following three factors can be helpful in deciding which is the better choice for specific installations:

  1. Age of existing fixtures. Fluorescent troffers have been major workhorses in commercial lighting for decades, so the existing housings could be showing rust or other signs of wear and tear. If this is the case, replacing the entire fixture could be a better option, given how long LED light sources can last.
  2. Location. An LED lighting upgrade can be a chance for upgrading the look of a retail space or office floor with more modern looking light fixtures. But more utilitarian, lower-traffic areas, like bathrooms, storerooms and stairwells could be good candidates for a simple retrofit.
  3. Cost. Prices for new LED fixtures have dropped substantially over the last five or so years, so retrofit savings advantages have lessened. But, multiplied over an office floor’s worth of fixtures, the cost difference that can still exist could add up in favor of a retrofit project, rather than complete replacement. In today’s stressed supply-chain environment, availability of new fixtures for a large-scale effort could pose challenges, as well.

Learn More about EPCO's Magnetic Multi-Purpose LED Retrofit Kit >