Rebates for LED Tubes: Huge Opportunity But Hard To Get

As the efficiency of LED tubes has increased, and prices have come down considerably, we see an enormous amount of projects where T12 and T8 solutions are being replaced by LED tubes. With the market for LED tubes really taking off, many rebate programs have adapted their guidelines to allow rebates for these products. Unfortunately though, as these rebate programs have been rolled out, they have also created a lot of confusion. As opposed to the relatively straightforward one-for-one LED screw-in lamp upgrades, with these projects you have to worry about various ballast and wiring options. On top of that complexity, there are 3 different types of LED tube technologies available; Type A, Type B and Type C.

Types of LED Tubes

Type A LED tubes - Uses the existing fluorescent ballast
Also called "Plug and Play", "Direct Install", or "Direct Retrofit"
This solution is popular because it’s a quick and easy lamp replacement. However, some rebate programs have noticed that lamp/ballast incompatibilities can lead to premature lamp failures. Therefore, these utilities are now requiring that you submit additional documentation to prove that your existing ballasts are compatible with the new lamp. Other rebate programs address this issue by requiring that you also install a new ballast in order to be eligible for a rebate.

Type B LED tubes - Old ballast is removed and the lamp runs directly off line voltage
Also called "Ballast Bypass", "Direct Wire", or "Line Voltage"
Up until a year ago, rebates for this type of lamp were relatively rare. At the beginning of 2016, many of the major programs around the country started providing incentives for these lamps although there are still large holdouts (like programs in CA, MD, ME, and NY). This solution is becoming increasingly popular in the marketplace as customers no longer have to worry about ballasts or drivers dying before the lamps do.

Type C LED tubes - Paired with a specific driver that is used in place of a fluorescent ballast
Also called "tube and Driver" or "tube with Remote Driver"
In this solution, the LED lamps and drivers are specifically designed to work together. The majority of the rebate programs allow this solution. In some areas, this solution may qualify for higher rebates because they’re treated as fixture retrofits instead of just lamp replacements.

Rebates for LED Tubes
Type AType BType C
# of utilities with rebates736689706
Average rebate per lamp$4.98$5.02$5.27
*Assuming a 32W F32T8 with NBF ballast going to a 15W LED tube.

Each rebate program decides which type of LED tubes they will allow. Some utilities will provide rebates for all 3 types. Others feel one specific LED tube technology is superior and will only provide incentives for that type. On top of that, rebate program staff are rarely well trained in the differences between the various LED tube types which leads to additional confusion when filing applications. Products that should qualify for a rebate are regularly rejected because of poor wording on a spec sheet or a staff’s misunderstanding of what type of lamp it is. In those cases, you really have to be persistent, have lighting knowledge, and be able to get supporting documentation from the manufacturers to go back and forth with the utilities to ensure you won’t miss out on your rebates.

Also, you should be aware that many rebate programs will cap the rebate dollar amounts in a certain way. They may limit the payout to a specific % of material cost, total project cost, or one year simple payback. Even if a program is advertising a rebate of $15 a lamp, you may actually get far less in the end.

What’s the best solution? There is no one answer. It just comes down to what works for you and can be influenced by things such as the age of your ballasts, the rebate program in your location, the light levels needed and budget constraints. BriteSwitch’s knowledge of lighting and rebate programs can help guide you through the various scenarios. We don’t sell products or provide labor, so we are totally unbiased towards the ultimate solution. Click here to learn more about how BriteSwitch can optimize your rebates.

Share this Post: Share on Twitter Facebook Email