How to Rewire Your Office’s Fluorescent Lighting System on a Budget

How to Rewire Your Office's Fluorescent Lighting System on a Budget

Assess Your Current Lighting Situation

The first step is to take stock of your current fluorescent lighting system. Make a list of all the fluorescent light fixtures in your office and note their age, condition, and wattage. Pay attention to any fixtures that are flickering, buzzing, or not turning on - these may need to be replaced. Also, note which areas of your office seem dark or poorly lit. This lighting audit will help you determine what needs to be improved.

I recommend creating a simple floor plan and marking the location of each light fixture. This will help you visualize the overall lighting layout and determine if any key areas are underlit. Having an accurate plan of your current lighting will make planning upgrades much easier.

Choose New Fluorescent Tubes

Once you've assessed your current fluorescent tubes, it's time to choose new and improved fluorescent tubes to rewire into your existing fixtures. Look for tubes with a higher lumen output to increase brightness. Also consider switching to more energy efficient tubes - T8 and T5 fluorescent tubes produce more light per watt compared to older T12 tubes.

I recommend choosing tubes with a high Color Rendering Index (CRI) score. The CRI measures how accurately colors are reproduced. A score of 80 or above will provide noticeably better light quality. Also look for tubes labeled "daylight" or 5000K-6500K color temperature for crisp, natural light.

Prioritize upgrading fixtures in areas where tasks like reading and computer work are performed. Brighter, clearer light will reduce eyestrain.

Purchase Ballasts and Starter Kits

Along with new fluorescent tubes, you'll need compatible ballasts to power the tubes. Electronic ballasts are more energy efficient than older magnetic ballasts. Choose rapid start ballasts for less flickering and humming.

For a simple DIY rewiring kit, I recommend looking for "direct-wire" or "plug and play" retrofit kits. These come with everything you need like the ballast, lamp holders, wiring and tombstones. Kits start around $20 per fixture.

Make sure to get ballasts and components that are compatible with the wattage and type of the new tubes you selected. Having mismatching components can lead to premature tube failure or flashing/flickering.

Safely Rewire the Fixtures

Here are some tips for safely rewiring the fluorescent fixtures with your new components:

Rewiring fluorescent fixtures is fairly straightforward but always exercise caution when dealing with electrical work. Consider hiring an electrician if you are uncomfortable working with wiring.

Add More Fixtures for Dark Areas

For any areas that remain poorly lit after rewiring and replacing tubes, consider adding supplementary lighting. This can be as simple as attaching inexpensive shop lights to the ceiling or wall. These come prewired with long fluorescent tubes.

Also consider desktop task lamps. I recommend using compact fluorescents or LED task lamps to provide bright, focused light without glare. This can be an affordable way to illuminate isolated dark spots.

Carefully positioning new fixtures or lamps can greatly improve light quality without overhauling your office's entire grid ceiling. Just be sure not to overload any single circuit with too many added lights.

Install Light Reflectors

One quick DIY trick to maximize existing fluorescent light is to install inexpensive reflectors. These fit inside the fixture housing and have a reflective surface to bounce light downwards. Light is wasted when directed upwards at the fixture cover.

Reflector panels can be cut to size from reflective duct insulation material available at hardware stores. You can also find commercial reflector kits designed specifically for common fluorescent fixture sizes. The reflector material is engineered not to degrade or yellow over time.

Properly installed reflectors can increase light output by up to 50% without using any additional energy. They make an easy and affordable fluorescent lighting upgrade.

By strategically rewiring, adding supplemental fixtures, and installing reflectors, you can inexpensively overhaul your office's fluorescent lighting system. With brighter and better light, your office will be an improved workplace for you and your employees.