Skip Fixing Your Fluorescent Light And Replace It With This Cheaper Alternative

You may have compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in use around your home. Workshops, kitchens, and basements are common locations in the house to find CFLs, although they can appear almost anywhere. Although CFLs work just fine, these lights do sometimes emit a buzzing noise that requires you to fix them, usually by replacing the ballast or the bulb. If you need to fix the CFL, though, it may be time to swap out the entire fixture and make use of a light-emitting diode (LED) fixture. This move will save money over the long run, and it may even generate a more pleasing type of light than what's in the fluorescent.

Determining whether you need to replace the ballast for the fluorescent light can be quite a challenge. If you are seeing some flickering from the CFL, this could indicate that the ballast needs replacing. However, it also could indicate an issue with the actual bulb or that the light is not receiving enough power to operate, which could be from a bad ballast, a bad switch, or having too many appliances on the same circuit.

Replacing the bulb or tube could cost you anywhere from $2 to $10. If you continue to have the same flickering problem, though, then you need to consider replacing the ballast. It can cost anywhere from $20 to $100 to purchase a new ballast. You could potentially purchase a similar LED fixture for $20 to $100 for replacement, making it a good value.

How do I convert a fluorescent light fixture to LED in an under cabinet kitchen light?

Adding lights underneath kitchen cabinets is a common upgrade that people have made over the years, helping them brighten up certain areas that have quite a few shadows to make food prep easier. If you have fluorescent lights installed here and if they are beginning to buzz, you may consider replacing them with LEDs instead. Because LEDs direct light in a single direction, they're better as under-cabinet lighting than CFLs, where the light goes in all directions, so a swap-out can benefit you in multiple ways.

The fluorescent light fixture should be wired to a junction box, likely somewhere behind the cabinet. Turn off the circuit breaker for the light and remove the fixture. You should see where the wires connect to the home's power. Remove the CFL fixture's wires, and then attach the wires from the LED fixture to the wires that come from the home's power. Secure them with wire nuts. Then attach the fixture underneath the cabinet and turn the circuit breaker back on.

You can pick up a hard-wired under-cabinet LED fixture 24 inches in length for about $33 at Lowe's. Remember, replacing the ballast on the fluorescent under cabinet fixture costs $20 to $100, depending on the model you have, so a new LED fixture could give you a decent value over the long run rather than repairing what you have. 

Replacing fluorescent shop lights with LEDs

Many people have shop lights in their homes that hang from the ceiling or that mount flush to the ceiling. They provide extra illumination in a basement, over a workbench, or in a laundry area. LED shop lights are even less expensive than under-cabinet LEDs, meaning you can save money over the long run by just swapping out a malfunctioning fluorescent shop light. These fixtures usually plug into a wall outlet rather than requiring direct wiring to the home's power, which makes the installation extremely easy.

Rather than purchasing a ballast for your existing fluorescent shop light, you could replace it with an LED fixture. You can find a four-foot version of this fixture at Lowe's for about $20. Considering the ballast itself probably costs at least $20, you're almost certainly going to be better off in the long run with the LED option.

Perhaps you simply want to swap out the tubes in the shop light to see if that fixes the issue. If you have a fluorescent fixture in place now, you can expect to pay around $14 for a pair of CFL tubes at Lowe's. Considering the new LED shop light fixture only costs an extra $6 versus the replacement CFL bulbs, a swap-out of the entire fixture is probably a better long-term idea. The LED shop lights could save you 40% in energy costs versus the fluorescent, and the LED should last 67% longer, giving you a long-term value.