Do LED Lights Need A Ballast? [Full Guide]

LED lights don’t need a ballast to control the current, LED’s have a driver instead, and the LED driver converts AC to DC because LEDs are usually considered to be DC devices.

LED drivers can be external and internal. External drivers are wired to the fixture. Internal drivers are built-in to the bulb or tube.

Why LEDs don’t use a Ballast?

LEDs use a driver, which does some of the same things as ballast but works much more effectively.

LED Light Ballast

Is an LED driver the same as a LED light ballast?

When you use a ballast with fluorescent light it provides a spike of high voltage, that generates an arc that goes cathode to anode within the discharge tube.

The ballast acts as a regulator of the current when the lights are on.

LEDs use direct current (DC) and the LED driver converts the AC current into a more suitable low direct current that LEDs are designed to run on.

The ballast and driver protect the light to fluctuate in the electrical supply. Without ballast and driver, the light quality would be bad and the lifespan of the bulb would be shortened.

Do I need to remove ballast for LED lights?

LEDs do not require a ballast to control the amount of energy running to the lights.

You don’t need to remove the ballast if you are using plug-and-play tubes.

Can LED lamps work off of existing ballasts?

Yes, it can if your LED has an internal driver.

Philips has something called instant fit LED lamps that you just plug-in without rewiring. You can use them if you have existing magnetic or electronic ballasts.

InstantFit and UniversalFit lamps can be a smart choice economically also because you don’t have to start changing the whole fixture.

Can LED lamps work off of existing ballasts



What is a ballast?

There are two kinds of ballast, electronic and magnetic.

Magnetic ballast is old technology. Magnetic ballast uses a copper coil wrapped around an iron connector to generate and regulate electricity. The downside of this type of ballast is that it generates a lot of heat.


Electronic ballast:

Electronic ballasts do not generate heat.  Instead of using coils and metal like the magnetic ballast use, the modern electronic ballasts use electronic components like microchips and semiconductors to control voltage.

Electronic ballasts operate at a lower temperature and they are also much smaller than magnetic ballasts.



Ballasts or drivers for LED lights can cause confusion and frustration for many people, especially in environments where there are many fittings and fixtures that need maintenance. The easiest solution is to try “plug-and-play-tubes”.