Bright Ideas Lighting Co installed some LED T8 tubes for the first time this week. We put them in for a customer who had requested them as a sample.
In the picture the tubes closest are the T8 fluorescents 4100K. The middle pair of tubes are the LEDs (rated at 4100K) and the far pair is the LED tubes rated at 5500K.
My impressions were that the LED tubes rated at 4100 kelvin did not look good. They seemed to have poor color and looked yellowish green. They were very bright and at only 18 watts a piece they produced a lot of light.
I did like the look of the 5500 kelvin LED tubes a little more. From the picture it is difficult to tell, but one of the tubes has a clear coating and one of the tubes has a frosted coating. I liked the clear coating, it produced much less of a glare.
The LED tubes were relatively easy to install. I would say they take approximately the same amount of time to install as it is to change a ballast. I think with some practice we could improve our time and cut our labor costs on these.
Overall it is still difficult to justify LED tubes over T8s given their relative price and performance. There is clearly HUGE potential in the LED tube market. There are places where LED tubes seem to make sense, those areas where access is difficult. The places we are looking installing the LED tubes requires scaffolding be build that will cost over $3000. So if we get extra life from the LED tubes over the fluorescents then the LED tubes may be worth the additional cost.