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LED Lightbars Versus LED Troffer Kits

LED Lightbars Versus LED Troffer Kits

In addition to high performance fluorescent, LED lightbars and LED troffer kits are two very good retrofit solutions. If anybody wants me to write about LED T8s, I will, but they are not really good.

LED Lightbars

This LED Living Technology image is an example of what lightbars, drivers, etc. look like. Light bars are 2′ or 4′ long and about 1″ or 2″ wide.


One company that offers both LED T8s and LED lightbars with identical LEDs and drivers found that the lightbars provide about 10% more light, which is probably a result of using the fixture housing as a heat sink to keep LED cooler and the light does not have to go through the round plastic tube.

LED lightbars can cost about the same, including parts and labor as LED T8 systems.

These can usually save at least 20% more wattage than the best fluorescent.

There are several manufacturers, including these:

Cree UR

Magnets to help installation, but still need permanent screws

Digital Lighting Linea-LED

100,000 hour rating & 10 year warranty

LED Living Technology Claris

RedBird Cardinal Stripit Kits

100,000 hour rating & 10 year warranty


 I like that RedBird shows that light bars can be installed on the angled sides for a good batwing distribution.  This can also be done with other light bars.


It may be good to check if installing self-tapping screws will cause any UL or other problems.

Some retrofit contractors have told me that they like LED lightbars, for these reasons. And these reasons should also apply for distributors.

Relatively compact and light weight for shipping, stocking and moving around the job site

Can fit into 2′, 4′ and 8′ long troffers, wraps, strips, hooded industrials, sealtites and other fixtures

Often can be driven with various drive current drivers for less or more light

If do not need all of them on an existing job, relatively easy to use on upcoming projects

LED Troffer Kits

These hardwired kits have their own lenses.

If LED is chosen, these can often be the best option for troffers, because usually the highest LPW out of fixtures, there are the same lighting distribution and light output no matter which fixtures they are installed, and they often have the best appearance.

These can often save 20 – 33% more wattage than the best fluorescent.

Parts cost may range between $100 and $150 depending on project size, number of LEDs, etc. Pricing may come down to $80 – $100 later this year.

Most manufacturers, which make LED troffers or panels, also make troffer kits, because the both are very similar.

Here are some manufacturers of LED troffer kits, several of which have up to 10-year warranties.

Energy Solutions International


Harris Lighting





Osram – Sylvania


This LG 2×4 Troffer Retrofit looks quite similar to many others. LG and other manufacturers have started to install open protocol wireless zigbee dimming and other control chips.


Most of these manufacturers have quick install brackets, allowing installation in five minutes in many, but not all, troffers. Some troffer kits install quicker in some troffers than others, so on a decent size project, it may be good to get sample troffer kits from several manufacturers. Often labor time is less installing LED troffer kits and retrofitting with fluorescent lamps and ballasts, especially if reflectors or upscale kits are included with fluorescent.


The choice is yours.

Which ever you pick, make sure they qualify for local rebates, if there are local rebates. In most parts of North America, that will be DesignLights Consortium approval.www.designlights.org

The Pacific Northwest usually allows Lighting Design Lab approval. www.lightingdesignlab.com

If I go with LED instead of fluorescent in a retrofit, I like LED troffer kits for troffers and LED lightbars for everything else.

For new construction there can be dedicated LED or high performance fluorescent fixtures.

Please let me know what you think of any of my statements. Also if you have a lighting subject that you would like information about, let me know. stan@lightingwizards.com.

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