How to Bypass a Ballast? – 7 Easy Steps Everyone Can Do


Written by

Thomas Carter



Marcos E. Williamson

how to bypass a ballast

If you no longer want to rewire ballast and deal with its common problems, you might want to do a ballast bypass and change to LED lights. Whether you are working on a 4 bulb fixture or a 2 bulb fixture, you can get the job done if you know the necessary materials and steps.

Here, we will provide you with just that! So, when you finish reading this detailed guide, you can easily and confidently bypass LED bulbs all by yourself.

How to Bypass a Ballast

What You Will Need to Have:

  • A wire cutter
  • A screwdriver
  • Wire nuts or push-in connectors
  • A multimeter (Only if you do not know if you have shunted or non-shunted sockets)
  • A ballast bypass wiring diagram

Step 1: Switch Off The Power


To start bypassing ballast LED bulbs, go to your breaker and switch off the power. Do not skip this step unless you want to risk electrocuting yourself.

Make sure you double check that the power is off by toggling the switch on and off once. When you are sure that there is no power, proceed to bypass the ballast.

Step 2: Locate The Ballast & Expose It


Next, figure out where your ballast is and get access to it. In most cases, it will be within a housing or casing. You might need a screwdriver to expose it. It helps to remove the light tubes first.

Step 3: Find The Hot + Neutral Wires & Cut Them


Once you get to the ballast, you will find the wires. There are two types: hot and neutral ones.

  • The hot, sometimes also referred to as live wires, is the one that connects power to the ballast. Its body is typically wrapped in black or red.
  • In contrast, the latter is usually white. It is what completes the circuit and connects to the electrical panel.

You will have to cut both the hot and neutral wires. Be sure to cut them close to the ballast so that only about two inches of the wires are left.

Step 4: Find The Socket Lead Wires & Cut Them Too


Now, look for the socket lead wires on the other side of the ballast. They connect to the wires that go from the ballast into the sockets and are what enable power to reach the light.

As with step 2, cut the wires on the side that is connected to the ballast and leave around two inches behind.

Step 5: Remove The Ballast


With all the wires out of the way, you can remove the ballast. Simply unscrew it to pop it out from your fixture for ballast bypass direct wire.

If you have a magnetic ballast, note that there is a starter accompanying it. You must identify this and remove it before carrying out step 6.

Step 6: Connect The Wires That Are Left


At this point, you will have to connect the remaining wires from the fixture to the ones the power source. To do this, strip their colored insulation covering off first. You just need to strip about one inch.

Then, hold the input hot and neutral wires from the source to the ones from the fixture and make the connections using wire nuts or push-in connectors.

Connect the wires to the same side of the fixture if you have non-shunted sockets. Otherwise, you should not connect them to the same side.

That being said, it is possible for you to bypass ballast and re-wire to single-end power or to double-end power.

If you do not know whether you have shunted or non-shunted sockets, grab a multimeter to carry out a test. If you hold the two pins of a shunted socket together, the multimeter will display a ring that denotes an electricity flow. For a non-shunted socket, the multimeter will read no continuity.

Step 7: Reassemble The Setup


To finish, reassemble the setup. Put the casing or housing back on, as well as the cover of the light fixture. Turn on the power and toggle your light switch to see if it works.

You can use this process for bypass 2 ballast as well as 1! It works for LED T8 too. You do not need a separate LED ballast bypass diagram to finish the task.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the importance of bypassing a ballast?

Bypassing a ballast is rather important because it allows for more energy-efficient lighting to be installed.

Ballasts were traditionally used in fluorescent lights to control the amount of electricity flowing through the bulbs, but they are not as efficient as modern LED fixtures which can operate at full power without the need for a ballast.

  • By bypassing the ballast, you can install LED lights directly into existing fluorescent fixtures, and in doing so, save money on energy costs and reduce maintenance needs.
  • Additionally, bypassing the ballast allows for better control over lighting levels and reduces flickering or humming noise associated with older fluorescent bulbs

Ultimately, fluorescent ballast bypass is an easy and cost-effective way to upgrade a lighting system while also improving overall energy efficiency.

Can I bypass the ballast for LED lights?


Yes! As a matter of fact, most people recommend it. You should remove ballast for LED lights to avoid having to pay more for your electricity and save time and effort dealing with your ballast.

LED tube ballast bypass is relatively straightforward, but it brings about lots of benefits.

What are reasons to bypass a ballast?

Only fluorescent and HID lights need a ballast, so, the main reason for bypassing the ballast is if you are converting your fixture to lights that do not rely on a ballast such as LED lights.

Though there are LED lights that can still work without a LED bypass ballast procedure, there are good reasons why it is recommended to bypass a ballast to install led tubes.

  • A ballast uses more energy, so if you do not bypass it, you will not reap the energy savings of your LEDs.
  • A ballast can become faulty, requiring costly and time-consuming troubleshooting, repair, replacement, etc.
  • When the light fixture is acting up, you will also have to consider the ballast as a potential culprit. It can take more time and effort to determine the cause of problems.

Do I need to remove the ballast to use a LED bulb?

Not necessarily. Some LED bulbs are designed to be ballast compatible. So, they can be used with a ballast. You just need to substitute them for linear or compact fluorescents or HIDs in a fixture. This means that bypassing ballast for LEDs is not always a must.


​​​​As you have read in this detailed guide on “How to bypass a ballast?”, you can just follow the easy steps.

It is important to note that bypassing a ballast will void your warranty and might cause electrical issues if not done correctly, so proceed with caution. If you are unsure about anything, seek help from an electrician.

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