4 Ways To Replace Compact Fluorescent With Ultra-simple LEDs

With the dramatic development of technology, electronic devices with superior features are born consecutively to replace outdated ones.

In terms of lighting equipment, LED bulbs are currently the most modern type of light bulb, overcoming many disadvantages of previous bulbs such as incandescent, halogen, and fluorescent ones.

So should we replace fluorescent with LED since the fluorescent bulb is also a good one compared to others? In this article, we will discuss this.

Why is LED a better alternative to Fluorescent (CFL)?

First, we will take a closer look at why LEDs are the best and in what ways they are superior to fluorescent lamps. There are a few aspects that we need to dig into, to address this question.

This is probably the factor that many people are most concerned about when choosing light bulbs. Lighting ability is related to brightness, light color, angle of illumination, etc.

In terms of brightness, to emit the same amount of lumens (i.e. the same brightness), the required power of an LED is significantly lower than that of a fluorescent bulb.

Specifically, to emit light of about 650-850 lumens (equivalent to the light of a standard 60W incandescent bulb), we need a 13-18W fluorescent bulb while a 7-10W LED was able to respond.

Besides, LEDs do not light omnidirectional like fluorescent bulbs, so it helps to focus the light source in the desired direction, making the brightness per unit also higher than fluorescent.

It is also worth noting that conventional fluorescent bulbs often have a low CRI or color rendering index, which makes the displayed colors unattractive.

Meanwhile, most LED bulbs can overcome this drawback

The LED bulb uses 95% of the input energy to produce light and generates almost no heat, making it an efficient lighting solution for the modern world. As I mentioned above, to create the same brightness, LEDs require a much lower input power than fluorescent lamps.

Therefore, using LEDs helps you to save energy significantly. Although the price of LED bulbs is higher, in the long run, the amount you save on your electricity bill is worth considering.

LED bulbs have an incredible lifespan that no other bulb can keep up with. An LED bulb can light 25,000 hours on average, and many can have a lifespan of up to 50,000 hours, while the average life of a fluorescent lamp is only about 8000 hours.

An amazing difference! Using LED lights will save you a lot of costs and hassles when having to replace bulbs regularly, and is also much more economical.

A fluorescent lamp consists of an electrode and lamp housing coated with fluorescent powder (a compound mainly phosphorus).

In addition, it is also pumped a little mercury vapor and inert gas (neon, argon…) to increase the durability of the electrode and create color light.

The presence of mercury vapor makes it more difficult to handle damaged bulbs, harmful to health if exposed and danger of environmental pollution.

Meanwhile, the LED is simpler and safer, with the basic structure of a diode allowing electricity to pass through and convert into the light.

Therefore, it can be said that LEDs are safer and more environmentally friendly than fluorescent lamps.

*** Refer to more useful article:

CFL to LED Fixture Compatibility

In order to get a correct replacement, you need to have a good understanding of the CFL base type you are using. 

Most plug-in CFLs bulbs use a pin type socket whereas LEDs or traditional bulbs have screw or thread sockets. There are also commonly available screw-type base CFL bulbs which are easier to find LED bulbs with a suitable base to replace.

There can be 2-pin or 4-pin CFL bulbs depending on the shape of the CF tube. This relates to the ballast type of a fluorescent bulb, so care should be taken to choose a compatible LED replacement. We will learn more about this in the next section.

Other things to concern are the specific type of CFL bulb: Single Tube (aka PL), Double Tube (aka Quad), Triple Tube (aka Triple), or Single Tube Long (aka PLL); wattage of the bulb; the size of your fluorescent plug-in lamp and how it is mounted – vertically or horizontally. 

Once you have all of this information in hand, you can now determine what LED replacement options.

4 Way Converting from CFL to LED [Newest 2022]

As mentioned in the previous section, understanding the type of fluorescent bulb’s base is a precondition for getting an accurate replacement.


If your CFL bulb has this base type, it’s pretty easy to replace it with LED because there are many LED bulbs on the market of this base type. You can refer to the following LED bulb models. They are highly rated LED bulbs on Amazon:

However, plug-in fluorescent lamps are more commonly used.

There are 9 common base types for plug-in compact fluorescents, but to make it easy to understand, it can be grouped into 2 main categories: a 2-pin or 4-pin. 2-pin compact fluorescent has a magnetic ballast whereas 4-pin compact fluorescent has an electronic ballast.

With this type of CFL, when replacing the LED bulb with the existing fluorescent lamp trough, just remove the starter and install the led tube, the led lamp will work normally. 

For ballasts, you can either discard them (some LED bulbs require that) or just leave them as they are, ballasts are just like a wire. If you want to remove the ballast, you just need to connect the input and output wire of the ballast together.

Some LED replacement plug-ins have the capability to be ballast compatible. What you need to do is just purchase them and plug them into your existing CFL socket. 

You can refer to some LED replacement options on the Amazon website. Some below is suggested for you:

Depending on your specific type of 4-pin CFL bulb, you can choose the compatible LED bulb in several of the following types:

#1. LED bulb can operate with existing electronic ballasts

This type of LED will save you time and effort spent removing ballasts. What to do is just find the right LED bulb, plug it in and use it. You won’t have to worry about incompatible ballasts.

You can find many options on E-commerce websites, typically on Amazon. Examples are the following LED bulbs:

#2. LED bulb requires a ballast to be removed

This LED bulb is probably the most popular one on the market. You will need to remove the ballast and wire direct to line voltage within the fixture so that it does not affect the lamp’s performance. 

Here some suggestions for you:

#3. LED bulb can work with or without ballast 

This is a versatile LED bulb that allows it to be used with or without ballasts. Easy to install, save time, and safe to use. You won’t have to waste time removing ballasts. I have some below suggestions:

You may need an 8″ LED Recessed Can, 6″ LED Recessed Can or a 4″ LED Recessed Can, or something different depending on your fixture.

The most important thing here is that you need to understand your existing fixture and the right sized LED fixture you need.

5 Frequently asked questions

LEDs do not need ballasts to regulate input electrical current like fluorescent lamps, so it is advisable to remove ballasts when using LEDs. This can save energy consumption and reduce costs, as ballasts consume more energy than needed.

You can refer to our instructions below. However, if you don’t have the expertise to do this correctly and safely, you should hire a professional electrician.

  1. Turn off the power: Find the breaker box and turn the breaker switch off 
  2. Locate your ballast: take out the tubes and unscrew the casing to get to the ballast
  3. Cut the hot (typically in red or black) and neutral wires (in white).  You need to cut these wires close to the ballast, leave the longer length of wire (coming from the fixture) for attachment to the main power lines coming from the building.
  4. Cut the socket lead wires (most likely red and blue-colored wires) which are located on the other side of the ballast.
  5. Remove the ballast physically or curl up the remaining shorter ballast wires and tuck them away.
  6. Connect the input hot and neutral wires (come from the building) to the output ones (come from the fixtures). This connection can be achieved using push-in connectors or wire nuts that screw on to complete the circuit of power.

Replacing existing bulbs with LEDs can be quite expensive as the price of LEDs is higher than other types of bulbs. But if it is within your means, do not hesitate to do so because LEDs are the most efficient of today’s bulbs. 

LEDs are long-lasting bulbs (many have a lifespan of up to 50000 hours) that use less energy than incandescent, halogen, or fluorescent bulbs to provide the same light output.

In the long term, it is an ideal lighting solution that is able to light efficiently while saving you a lot on your electricity bills.

The answer is YES. LEDs are more efficient than fluorescent lamps in almost every respect. 

LEDs can help you save more energy, which means that to produce the same brightness (the same amount of lumens), fluorescent lamps require more input energy.

Besides, the average lifespan of LEDs is also longer, about 25,000 hours while fluorescent lamps can only light up to 8000 hours on average. Therefore, despite the higher cost, LEDs are still more efficient in the long run.

Led bulbs prices may be a bit expensive upfront compared to other bulbs but the savings on electricity bills over 10 years are worth considering.

According to a study published in USA Today, using LED lights in place of other bulbs can save you $ 1000 in 10 years. This can be explained by the ability to light more efficiently with less input required energy, less heat, and longer life of LED bulbs.


Sure, after reading this article, you have your own answer to the question we posed in the beginning. Replacing fluorescent bulbs with LED bulbs is really a great solution for you. If possible to do this now, do not hesitate! Not only can you save more money, but you can also help protect the environment. The Earth will thank you!