Converting compact fluorescent (CF) lights to LED conversion with ballast bypass

Sharing is caring!

Do you have Compact florescent recessed lights in your home and hate them as much as I do? My mom recently purchased a new home that was rampant with these stupid CF lights. I am not sure why anyone would put these in a house, they are expensive to buy, a pain to replace, they flicker when dimmed, they run hot and they cost more to run. I see zero upsides to them. So My mom and I set out to get the lights converted to the more energy-efficient LED lighting. The LED lights are also warmer and don’t flicker when dimmed. lots of wins for LEDs. Oh and the last 45 years. Awesome.

They make these great little retrofit kits that, for most, is as easy to put in as a light bulb. Not the case for CF lights. They take a little more work. We enlisted the help of my electrician uncle and the electrician roommate of my mom to show us the deal and got to work. 14 lights.

There are many brands of these retrofit kits, you want to make sure they are the kind that has long clips on the sides. These fit into the existing cans nicely. Costco and Home Depot carry them in packs, we got them on Amazon.

I recommend turning the breaker off before starting, though you can just make sure the switch in the off position, do so at your own risk.

So Here We go:

Step One: Remove the CF bulb

Remove the CF bulb. Make sure to grab the base, not the glass, and pull down. They break easily FYI. I broke a couple. BE CAREFUL.

Step Two: Remove the housing

Now you will remove the housing. Lift the lip of the trim and gently pull it will basically pop. Then you can reach in and squeeze the long clips holding it in place and pull down and out.

Step Three: Remove Covering From Base

Squeeze the metal parts that are at the base of where the light was in. It will unclip the covering from the base.

Step Four: Remove The Screws

There are 4 screws that hold the can in place. Use a small, fat screwdriver to remove the screws.

Step Five: Push the can up into the ceiling

Push the can up into the ceiling and push it out of the way enough to get to the box on one side that has the wires in it.

Step Six: Remove Transformer

The ones here have the box you see in the photo, this is the transformer. The transformer is not needed for the LEDs so if yours looks like this just cut all the wires attached to it and remove it. Leave all the wires in the ceiling, just remove the transformer. Sometimes you won’t see this and it will be on the back if this is the case don’t worry about removing the transformer. Find the black and white wires that go to the transformer. They are the lighter and thinner of the sets of wires, these are the ones you cut. Then cut all 4 of the blue and red wires.

Step Seven: Remove Extra Wires

You should have a black and white wire now that is hanging off alone held on by the wire connector, remove them and discard. Gently twist the connector back and forth while pulling the wire you want to remove.

Step Eight: Remove a Red and Blue Wire

Reach into the can where the bulb base is, grab one of the blue wires and pull it out, repeat with a red. This should leave 2 in place with the rest of the wires. (see photo).

Step Nine: Cut Bulb Base Off

Cut the bulb base off of the remaining 2 wires and leave as long as you can into the can. NOTE: In subsequent lights, I did that at step 13 so that I didn’t have to worry about the wires sliding of the can.

Step Ten: Connect Blue and Red Wires

Strip the tip of the red and blue wires that remain and connect them to the clips. It does not matter which color goes with which but you have to be consistent. For the sake of ease, I chose black and blue together because of B-B. Easy to remember. You can see in my photo the clip has the 2 black wires and a blue (some lights might only have one black) and the other clip as white and red. You don’t need to do anything with the ground (green) I removed the extra piece of wire for neatness since I removed the whole transformer. Make sure the clips are nice and tight and tuck them back in the box.

Step Eleven: Slide Can Back in Place

Slide the can back in place. You should have just one red and one blue wire in your can. Then replace the screws

Step Twelve: Unclip Clips From New Light

Take your new LED out of the box. You will see it has orange clips that connect what looks like the end of a light bulb to it. Unclip the orange clip (it just pulls out like a plug)

Step Thirteen: Snip Wires Close to Blub Base

Take the part that has the bulb in and snip the black and white wires close to the base of the bulb. You should just have the orange clip now with a black and a white wire sticking out. Strip the tips of the ends of the wires, including the red and blue that are in the can.

Step Fourteen:

Now, remember what colors you chose in step 10. For me, it was BB, Black and blue. Take the wires you snipped from the blub, that have the orange clip still attached. Attach the black wire from this piece to the blue wire in the can. Take a wire nut and twist them together, repeat with the white and red.

Step Fifteen: Reconnect LED

Now grab your LED light and clip the orange clips back together.

Step Sixteen: Place LED in the housing

Pinch the wires on the side of the LED and place them in the clips on the inside of the can (you should see them sticking out on the sides of the cans) clip in both sides. Then gently push the light into the ceiling and BAM! Let there be light!!

So there you have it. Each light took me about 20 min start to finish. It sounds intense but I promise, it’s not that bad and you will be so much happier with these long-lasting, cost-efficient LEDs.

Step Seventeen: All Done!

Let There Be Light!

Happy converting!