Ballast-compatible or plug-and-play LED tube lamps directly replaces fluorescent tube lamps without the need of changing any circuit on the lighting fixture. End users may have a first impression that it is the best alternative because it is straightforward to replace the fluorescent lamp without rewiring. But the ballast consumes extra power even in the event the ballast-compatible LED lamps are dead or not installed, consequently total cost of ownership for this approach is high despite very low initial cost. However, modern ballasts vary substantially in type and complexity. The ballast-compatible LED tubes work only with selected types of ballasts. This will bring inconvenience if the existing ballast is not compatible with the plug-and-play LED tubes. Moreover, a ballast has a limited life and must be replaced after failure. In many instances, light fixtures must be partially disassembled to access the ballast for replacement. The incurred cost will preponderate over the preliminary financial savings by changeover to the ballast-compatible LED lamps for a large number of fixtures throughout a building. Furthermore, replacing a failed ballast necessitates a certified electrician. The labor costs and long-term maintenance costs will be unacceptable to end users.
Ballast-bypass, line voltage, or direct wire LED tubes do not require a ballasts to operate, but the existing ballast in a fixture must be removed or bypassed and the sockets need to be changed from shunted sockets to non-shunted sockets before installing the ballast-bypass LED tubes. Although removing or bypassing the fluorescent ballasts may require the services of a licensed electrician and incur extra installation cost and inconvenience, the benefit is obvious - there'll be no concern over failed ballasts like those in ballast-compatible LED tubes. Once installed, these line wattage LED lamps will only need to be replaced after its designed lifecycle, e.g., 50,000 hours. But do keep in mind that rewiring for direct wire LED tubes has safety risks of electric shock because the sockets carry line voltage.