How to Bypass a Ballast

If you are trying to retrofit a fixture from fluorescent to LED lamps, you may need to bypass the ballast for this purpose. When it comes to how to bypass a ballast, it is simple enough in theory. However, it is recommended by many manufacturers to have a professional perform this step. If you are comfortable with your abilities and have experience with this area, you might be able to take a DIY approach. It is important to note that if you do not feel confident taking on this task, you need to call a professional in because electrical shock can cause severe injury and death when a novice takes on more than they can chew. Please use caution when performing this task.

1. Shut off all power

This can’t be stressed enough! You should never work on any wiring or internal elements with electricity in the unit. Tuning off the switch isn’t enough either. You need to make sure the switch is off, the breaker is off, and there is absolutely no power to the unit at all. If you are able to work on the fixture with it on a table instead of in the housing of the ceiling for added safety that would be the best way to perform this task.

2. Find the ballast

In most fixtures, the ballast will be behind the tubes and covered by a metal encasing you will need to remove. Never try to work around the lamps since it will hinder your visibility. Remove all lamps and ballast covers for easy access.

3. Find the right wires

You will need to cut the hot wire which is the wire providing power to the fixture. This wire is usually red or black. It will be located next to a neutral wire, usually white, which you will also need to cut. Make sure you cut them close to the ballast but leave the longer end for the attachment through the ceiling opening for the power source. At the other end of the ballast, you will find the socket lead wires. These wires are usually red or blue. These wires run to the ballast from the socket and should be unshunted.

4. Remove the ballast

Now that the wires are cut, you can remove the ballast. You can either completely remove the ballast or choose to cap the wires to make sure there is no circuitry provided to the ballast.

5. Connect remaining wires

From here, you will need to connect the input and output wires from the fixture to the wires in the ceiling power source. Make sure there is no electricity present prior to performing this step! Once this step is complete, you will have removed the ballast competent and can now install your lamps.