Installing Light Emitting Diode Tubular (TLED) Lamps

The conclusions of this publication are that a qualified electrician should make the change and that you should search for pleasing lighting TLED systems before you buy any.  TLEDs are promoted as common replacements for fluorescent lamps.  Most vendors and utilities simply replace lamps one for one, which is often the cheapest and most expedient solution, but not always the best.  Here are some sample questions:

  • Has the use and occupancy of all the spaces served changed at all since the original lighting was installed?
  • Will the amount and distribution of light with new LEDs be suitable or correct?
  • Should more or less lighting be provided?
  • Should some light fixtures be added or removed?
  • Should new LED fixtures be installed instead of using old existing fixtures?
  • If using third party electric generation suppliers, will reductions in consumption result in supplier contract charges?
  • Are there rebates available and who gets them?
  • Are local government or electrical permits needed?
  • Do your insurance carriers have any concerns?

An LED is a chip with two wires attached.  The chip is a diode that allows power to travel in only one direction.  It’s like an electronic check valve.  With just the right amount of power through the wires, the chip lights up.  The power is a direct current (DC), rather than alternating current (AC) because DC moves only in one direction while AC changes direction continuously.  Most LED bulbs and tubes are supplied with AC power, so a device has to convert AC to DC in order for an LED to light.  That device is called a driver.

The emitted LED light shines only in one direction.  To make an LED bulb, many LED chips are pointed in various directions, usually filtered through a translucent enclosure.  The same is true for an LED tube.  The LEDs are usually installed in a straight line inside, shining through a translucent tube wall to imitate the appearance of a fluorescent tube.

AC powers fluorescent light fixtures.  Electricity lighting the gases inside fluorescent tubes is usually controlled by a transformer, called a ballast.  The older ballasts were electromagnetic, and the newer ones are electronic.  Some TLED tubes are compatible with existing fluorescent ballasts.  There are three types of TLED tubes:

  1. T8 Electronic Ballast powering compatible TLED tubes
  2. Direct Wired or Ballast Bypass TLED tubes with built-in integral driver
  3. TLED tubes powered by either an integral driver or a T8 electronic ballast (combo tube)

The important concept here is that electricians who replace fluorescent tubes with LED tubes and their drivers have to know what they are doing.  For example, if the change violates a safety rating, such as approval by Underwriters Labs (UL) or the National Electric Code (NEC) and causes a fire, most insurance may not cover the resulting damage.  This can be significant.

The quality of light from a tubular LED fixture is determined by three factors.  One is the color temperature of the light, described in Kelvin (K) degrees.  If you want a room to look depressingly and starkly blue, choose a color temperature of about 5,000oK or higher.  If you want a room to look pleasantly warm, choose a color temperature of perhaps 3,500oK or lower.

A second factor in the quality of light is its color rendering index, CRI.  Sunlight has a CRI of 100.  All artificial light has a lower rating, which makes light reflected off colored surfaces of less quality than sunlight.  A CRI of 80 or higher is usually adequate.

The third quality factor is glare.  An electric plasma arc flowing through a fluorescent tube produces ultraviolet light.  Phosphors on the inside surface of the tubes change the ultraviolet light into more even and pleasant colors of visible light.  The newer fluorescent tubes that are one inch in diameter (T8) have a combination of three phosphors to improve the quality of the light.  Yet, glaring light from bare fluorescent tubes of any type can be diffused by prismatic, egg-crate, shell or parabolic lenses or diffusers, or even light from the interior surfaces of a fixture, reflected by an opaque cover that hides the direct glare of fluorescent tubes completely.  Since TLED tubes have one-directional light, glare has to be even more carefully controlled.  Phosphors inside fluorescent replacement tubes are replaced with translucent plastic tubes enclosing the strips of LEDs.   Some LEDs are installed within thin, uniformly lit panels.

Like the choice of TLED tube types, the choice of the fixtures that enclose them is equally important.  Try one or two before you buy dozens.

The choice of TLED tubes and their drivers is made much more complicated if those tubes need to be dimmed.  The type of dimming system must be compatible with the TLED drivers.  Several manufacturers produce dimming systems that are compatible only with certain drivers, limiting the choice of system to proprietary combinations.  Again, the electricians that install the TLED tubes, drivers and dimming systems must thoroughly understand which combinations will produce functional and attractive lighting projects.

TLED tubes last longer than fluorescent tubes, and they use less electricity.  But, you must pay attention to the many details involved with their installation.  For example, if you install a TLED tube powered by 120 volts, without labeling the fixture, someone might later replace it with a low voltage TLED tube that is intended for use with an LED driver, which may cause problems.

If electric heat is used, you will not see any reduction in electric use in winter.  This is because the more efficient LEDs generate less heat, which is made up by the electric heating system.  With any other type of heat, there will be an increase in fuel consumption in winter for the same reason.  In summer there should be reductions in both lighting electricity and in cooling electricity.

Our thanks to Neil Sobel of ALI Lighting and Carl Watson P.E., L.C. for help with this article.

Buying deregulated electricity or gas – What a Favorable Contract Could Be

Interfaith Coalition on Energy – November 9, 2013

When you buy electricity and/or natural gas from third party suppliers, you leave the protection of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. The only “protection” you have is the contract written by the suppliers in their own best interest. They are usually written in legal language in small print.

Here are some guidelines that you could follow:

In choosing a supplier:

  • There are hundreds of third party suppliers because that business is profitable, often very profitable.
  • Do not rely on utility or Public Utility Commission advice.
  • Buying from a vendor has risks, but so does staying with your local utility. One difference is that you have PUC protection with your local utility.
  • Vendors may refer to your local utility website’s estimates of future prices. These estimates are likely false. Utilities typically revise their prices quarterly.
  • Do not pay any attention to phone conversations, face-to-face conversations, or mailings. The only thing that matters is the final contract with firm fixed pricing.
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The Positive Effect of Low Temperatures on Pipe Organs

by Andrew Rudin, ICE Project Coordinator, March 1986

The Interfaith Coalition on Energy (ICE) has found that local organ repair people and organ tuners have not provided the religious community with consistent advice concerning the relationship of patterns of heating to the well-being of the pipe organs. The purpose of this report is to clarify this confusion.

Expert confusion

We know that some organ experts suggest continuously heating houses of worship with pipe organs, at a cost of thousands of dollars per year, in order to “protect the pipe organ.” We know of other experts who suggest that the temperatures can be set very low when the buildings are not occupied, without causing damage to the pipe organ.

During the summer of 1985, we received a copy of a brochure written by the Federation of Master Organ Builders in Britain. The brochure clearly stated that the major problems with British pipe organs resulted from heating, rather than from cool temperatures.

The Interfaith Coalition on Energy summarized the brochure in a three-paragraph statement. On December 3, 1985, ICE wrote letters to each of twenty-two members of the Associated Pipe Organ Builders of America (APOBA) to attempt to reach a consensus on the relationship of low temperatures to pipe organs.

We asked that they respond with their opinion about the three paragraphs about the effect of heat on pipe organs, which summarized the British brochure. We also enclosed a copy of the British brochure with our letter to the American organ builders.

Their responses form the basis of this article. On January 13, 1986 we sent each member a draft of this article for their final approval, resulting in a few additional minor changes.

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Lessons From Inspired Partnerships Stewardship Program


Information Series NO. 60, 1992

NOTE: This is a 16 page article, To read the FULL VERSION please click on the link below
(Opens in a new window, 6.1 Meg PDF File)


This technical booklet is the second in a series developed by Inspired Partnerships and co-published with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to address building issues facing traditional houses of worship. It is a summary of the author, Andrew Rudin’s, experience with four programs: Inspired Partnerships in Chicago and Interfaith Coalition on Energy (ICE) prograims in Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Arizona. Actual data from numerous buildings were analyzed to determine the causes of measured reductions in energy use.

Several companies and products are mentioned in this booklet. Mention of trade names does not constitute an endorsement by Inspired Partnerships or the National Trust for Historic Preservation, nor does it signify approval of the product to the exclusion of comparable products or companies.

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Some Advice Concerning Wireless Communication Antennas In Steeples

October 1997
The Interfaith Coalition on Energy

Introduction :

To many people, wireless communication towers are so ugly that they don’t want them visibly installed in their neighborhoods. Wireless communication antenna companies consider properly—located steeples as an alternative. If they select your steeple, either for their own needs and/or because your congregation desires additional income, your lawyer can use the following advice and sample lease documents to help draft an agreement more in your economic interest.

The contractual agreements often have two parts to them. The first is some up—front payment, and the other is a lease with monthly payments. A church near Boston made a deal with one antenna company to re-paint its steeple (a $12,000 value) plus $1,200 per month for 20 years. They negotiated a second deal with another cellular service supplier for $20,000 in parking lot repayement with $1,500 per month for twenty years. Another church in nearby Providence negotiated a $300,000 up—front payment and a $1,500 per month lease.

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Let’s Make a Deal and lower our church energy bills

Creation Care – Summer 1998

Electric meters are as prominent in churches as pulpits — usually one per facility.  Understanding sermons, however, may be easier than understanding electric meters.  Pulpits are located in sacred space — well-cared-for rooms with colors and cleanliness. Meters are usually located in profane space amid dirt, dust and dim light.

Electric meters are the cash registers for electric utilities.  Each month, the utility usually reads your electric meter, which belongs to them, and then sends you a bill.  Personally, I can’t wait for them to read my meter only once a month; I read it each morning keeping score of the amount of electricity, measured in kilowatthours, we used the day before.

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Suggestions on ways to reduce cooling costs

by Andrew Rudin June 1990

Electric costs are rising.  The heat of the summer will make us want to turn on the air conditioning.  How can we control cooling costs?  Based on experience with congregations in Phoenix and Philadelphia, here are a few suggestions:

1. Make certain your building is on the most advantageous electric rate.

  • If your peak use of electricity (when most things are turned on) occurs during your electric utility’s off-peak periods, request off-peak rates lower the cost of electricity.
  • Pre-cool each day before the higher on-peak rates take effect.  In Philadelphia, this is 8am weekday mornings; weekends and holidays are off-peak all day.

2. Move morning worship earlier in the morning.

3. Reduce the generation of heat inside the building.

  • Install lower wattage lighting.
  • Turn off all unnecessary inside lights.
  • Reduce lighting levels.
  • Insulate domestic water heaters and piping.
  • Turn off circulators that pump water to hot water taps.
  • Minimize appliance use inside air conditioned areas.
  • Turn off pilot lights in boilers and furnaces.
  • Do not run air hander fans when building is vacant.  (The fans add heat to the air.)
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EPA’s Energy Star Out of Reach in the Real World

Fall 1996
Like plastic slipcovers on a summer night, the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts are sometimes misguided. Following its questionable opinions on underground fuel tanks and asbestos, the EPA has now created a maximum energy intensity for a congregation to declare itself an “Energy Star”.

A congregation must decrease by 35% its total annual energy use per square foot (measured in British Thermal Units or BTUs). Alternatively, a building used for religious worship has to meet the following energy standard in total BTUs per square foot per year according to the region in which it is located: Northeast -22,800, Midwest – 22 ,400, South – 16,300, West – 15,900.

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From ICE enthusiasts

Excellent energy report!!!!  Our potential energy cost savings are substantial and the initial investment modest.


It really is win-win.  Thanks, you have done extremely well for our church!!!!
Roger Olson, Pine Street Church


Again many thanks for your very intensive and informative review.
Joseph Scott, Unionville Presbyterian Church


We hope you are OK and that this little check helps.
Shirley Perkins, Minnesota

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How to create interest in energy?

Energy management is not something that we do once and for all.  Instead, these activities are a series of repeated rituals.  But how do you keep members of property committees and the congregation interested in energy?  We have several suggestions:

Keep records.  You can’t play any game without keeping score.  Energy management is a series of repeated rituals listed here.  You can provoke yourself to renew your interest in them by comparing energy use day to day, month to month or year to year.

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