Fluorescent light bulbs come in two basic types, known as T8 and T12. As you might already be aware, each one has its own unique set of particulars. Having said that, many businesses and large commercial and/or industrial properties should begin considering the reasons to do a retrofit of their lighting fixtures from T12 to T8 bulbs. By doing so, this can be an excellent method of providing a flexible and maintainable long-term lighting system.
Phasing Out Of T12:
One of the best reasons to consider such a retrofit is due to the fact that the T12 fluorescent bulbs are essentially being phased out of production. Most of the T12 bulbs also need to be used with magnetic ballasts. It is not so much the fact that the bulb is becoming less available as it is the lamps and ballasts themselves. The situation is similar to having a favorite older car that still runs adequately (although certainly not state of the art) but finding it increasingly difficult to locate spare parts for the vehicle.
Industry Could Experience Huge Savings:
The US Department of Energy published a Lighting Market Characterization report in January 2012. This shows that by the end of 2010 there were approximately 941 million T12 lamps in use. Of these, almost 766 million were the 48-inch varieties and 410.5 million were located in commercial buildings. If all of these lamp fixtures were retrofitted to T8 lamps and ballasts (assuming that the existing T12’s were all of the 40-watt variety) we would see an energy savings of $1.52 billion per year.
Standard T8 lamps are the same length and can fit in most T12 lamp holders. This makes them great retrofit candidates. It has also been estimated that an average facility would see a 30 percent energy and cost savings.
Energy Use & Government Standards:
Both of these bulbs also differ in their use of energy, as you might imagine. For example, the T12 bulb standard is 40 watts and a T8 is 32 watts. When multiplied by many different lamps, fixtures, and bulbs, this can lead to a significant difference. Additionally, there is a government standard that will increasingly lead to the need for retrofits.
The Federal Minimum Energy Standard will require that buildings actually begin using more energy-efficient lighting. This should automatically mean that more and more businesses and facility managers end up converting over to T8 bulbs in the next few years.
An interesting thing to note is that both bulbs are actually quite similar in their light output. Honestly, the T8 bulb does have a slightly higher output, but it is really not noticeable to the human eye since the difference is 2600 lumens versus 2520 lumens. Of course over time the bulbs will end up losing their intensity and brightness. The T8’s tend to reach this point more slowly, only losing about 10 percent after 7,000 of hours. The T12, by contrast, will lose as much as 20 percent of its brightness during the same time frame. This can mean up to two years before the naked eye notices it might be time for replacement.
Consider The Ballasts:
Electronic ballasts are much more efficient and use less energy. This is one of the main reasons why they are becoming more common. They also tend to work much better with the T8 bulbs, which is another reason to consider retrofitting fixtures from T12 to T8 bulbs.
Written by Brian Cardinal at LightBulbU.com