Circuit inside LED tube

Chipshow’s LED tube page gives some views what LED tubes look like.


As you can see there are many LEDs inside a LED tube. The most economical way to run sich LEDs from mains power is to connect many LEDs in series and then use some current limiting circuit to set the drive current right for those LEDs. One LED tube can contain one or more such sets of series connected LEDs.

LED Light Tube Circuit Diagram gives a quite simple looking circuit diagram for a 230V mains powered LED tube:


The circuit looks pretty simple. The downside of this kind of design is the power loss by the current limiting resistor and the fact that the light output flickers at 100 Hz frequency. I would also expect a poor regulation on mains voltage variations (if mains voltage changes the light output changes quite much). I have not tried this particular design, but those are normal problems on this kind of simple LED circuits.

LED TUBE LIGHT (AC) article tells how to make a LED Tube Light. This kind of tube light is a row of LED’s which runs on 110 or 220 volts AC, just like your ordinary Fluorescent Tube Light. The following circuit diagram is for 110V operation (article has instruction for modifications for 220V operation).


This circuit diagram use a capacitor+resistor for current limiting and uses just 30 LEDs in series. Maybe a little bit better (lower losses) than resistor only solution.

The ideal solution for driving those LEDs would be a suitable constant current type power source. This could be for example built with a mains power rectifier + filtering capacitor followed by a low loss constant current source (switch mode power supply wired to constant current mode).

LED short-circuit such a situation-led tube article tells some information how to detect damaged LEDs on the LED tube circuit before they cause more serious problems. The above circuits do not have any such protection, so damaged short circuited LED (or more than one) can cause danger of circuit overload (overheating of resistor, too much current to other LEDs etc.). At least potential dangers.

National Semiconductor Newsletter: Multiple LED Strings. One LED Driver (e-mailed to me) says:
When lighting designers arrange a series of LED strings in applications such as street lights or industrial lights (and this applies to LED tubes built in the same way), each string needs to be driven at a consistent current by an individual LED driver. However, the output voltage often varies due to differences in the manufacturing of the LEDs. To compensate, LED drivers provide higher-than-needed voltage to ensure proper operation of each LED string. Too much voltage, though, can waste power.

National Semiconductor newsletter says that their LED drivers with Dynamic Headroom Control (DHC), such as LM3464, monitor the output voltage of the LED strings and dynamically adjust the voltage to get the highest efficiency on the output. LM3464 drives four strings of up to 80V per channel for LED-intensive applications such as industrial, outdoor area, and automotive lighting.

And for bonus those that work on lowe voltage lights: LED Ideas web page gives a design for LED tube lamp that runs on 12V DC power. There are good pictures on the mechanical construction of the circuit inside tube and even how to built those fluorescent tube bi pin contacts ourself.


  1. S.V.dhapare says:

    What are the advantages of led tube light over flowrecent tube lights.

    Are the led tubelights good for reading?

    What is the lux value of led tubelight comparing with flowrecent tube light?

    • tomi says:

      The LUX values depend on the product you choose. Depending on your selection LED tube can output more, same amount or less light than the original fluorescent lamp.

  2. S.V.dhapare says:

    What are the advantages of led tube light over flowrecent tube lights.

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  13. Shiharan says:

    Hi, i recommend adding an electrolytic filter capacitor to the circuit along with a bridge rectifier to reduce flickering.


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  15. Joe Belzer says:

    I do not understand the way LEDS are wired—

    Is the top row connected positive to positive and the positive from bottom row connected to top row

    Bottom row negative to negative and negatives from top row connected to bottom row.

    Took a led and connected positive to positive—negative to negative –got light–

    reversed polarity and got no light—NOT an Electrical engineer OBVIOUSLY—-

    Spent lots of time looking for explanation—-PLEASE EXPLAIN your circuit


  16. Joe Belzer says:

    Yes–the upper is going left and the bottom is going right—-

    Please clarify–

    Thank You

  17. Savin says:

    LED tube is highly recommended LED equipment. I already using this LED Tubes, its really such a great tube to save power energy.

  18. bharathi says:

    i wil try this experiment in 230v ac,22k400v c,1/2 k,1w first the bulb will glow then the resister will burned.what can i do the next step.plz tell me.

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  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Led light tubes are the first and so far the only LED lamps format, which has received international harmonized standard. IEC approved E N 62776 – the standard for many years after twisting in mid-December 2014.

    Standardization allows for traditional T8 fluorescent tubes are compatible with LED light tubes. In addition, the standard defines the characteristics of LED light tube, so that they are compatible with each other.

    The new standard of the old fluorescent lighting tubes can be exchanged with one of led light tube. The standard also defines the characteristics required of a light pipe, such as mechanical strength, physical dimensions and electrical characteristics. It also describes the products of the required marks and uniform testing practices.


  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Two different versions of LED lamps in linear tubes can be found in the market: retrofit and

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    A conversion LED unit is a lamp which requires changes in the luminaire components. In
    this case safety requirements have to be checked in a different way taking into consideration thermal and electrical behaviour of the new components, and the possibility that the user will insert again a tubular fluorescent lamp.


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  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    LED products billed as eco-friendly contain toxic metals, study finds


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