Troffer Lighting – LED versus Fluorescent

Drop Ceiling Light Fixtures

Troffer lights (also known as recessed troffer lights or drop ceiling lights) are rectangular or square light fixtures that fit into a modular dropped ceiling grid. Some types can also be surface or suspension mounted to a ceiling. They are used in a wide variety of applications such as offices, retail spaces, warehouses, and classrooms. Standard sizes are 1’x4’, 2’x2’ and 2’x4’.

Linear fluorescent lamps are commonly used in these types of fixtures such as T12, T8, and T5 lamps. These types of lamps are relatively inexpensive but since troffers typically use more than one lamp in each fixture, there can be issues with individual lamps which can lead to overall performance issues.

In recent years, LED lighting has been found to be superior to fluorescent lighting in every way. The same applies to troffer lights. Troffer fixtures are now available for use with LED T8 and T5 lamps as well as fully integrated LED arrays. Here is how it breaks down.

LED provides much better energy cost savings than fluorescent.

Common wattages used for each lamp for 4-foot troffer lighting are in the 28 to 40-watt range. Many 2’x4’ troffers use 4 lamps per fixture which equals up to 160 watts. For troffers with integrated LED, this range is 22-50 watts for the entire fixture. This results in a savings of up to $81 per 2’x4’ fixture, per year.

LED provides much better maintenance cost savings than fluorescent.

LED lights have a significantly longer lifespan than fluorescent. This means that there is less time spent maintaining the fixtures due to replacing the lamps. Unlike LED lights, fluorescent lights are affected by cold temperatures and constant on/off operations which can decrease lifespan. Less time required to maintain the fixtures means less maintenance costs.

LED provides much better lighting performance than fluorescent.

Fluorescent troffers have variable performance depending on the lamps used. T12, T8, and T5 lamps can perform wildly differently depending on their manufacturer. Another issue is as individual lamps fail within a given fixture, its performance is compromised. Additionally, unlike LED, most fluorescent applications are not dimmable.

By contrast, LED troffer fixtures offer better light distribution, are available in a wider range of color temperatures and have higher color rendering.

In summary, LED is a superior choice for troffer lighting compared to fluorescent for all the reasons stated above.

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