Energy Efficient Lights: 3 Options For Upgrading 8' T-12 Fluorescent

Posted by Jimmy Hovey on Thu, Aug 11, 2011 @ 13:08 PM

Want Energy Efficient Lighting?

Eliminate T-12 Fixtures!

The T-12 fixture is on its way out.  You can still buy them, but just like the 100 watt incandescent light bulb, the T-12 bulb is on it's way out. The government is not allowing manufacturers to make them after 2012. 

How Do You know If You Have T-12 Fixtures?

Take a look at the size of the bulbs.  Check the back room for boxes or replacement bulbs or get a ladder and climb up to take a look.  Here is a idea on how to tell which bulb you have (assuming you can't read the box or label on th bulb...)

T-12 Bulbs are the FAT bulbs or roughly the size of a Silver Dollar.Size-of-Fluorescent-Tubes-Like-Silver-Dollar-Quarter-Dime 

T-8 Bulbs are in the MIDDLE and are the size of a Quarter.

T-5 Bulbs are the SKINNY bulbs are are similiar to a Dime.

T-12's are usually easy to identify as most of the fluorescent lighting used over the past 25 years has been this technology.  New technology has caught up and T-12 is no longer the most efficient option available.

Here are some options:

1.Retrofit Existing 8' 2 Bulb T-12 Fixtures

Leave them Up, Fix the Guts

Retrofitting T-12's is one of the easiest ways to upgrade the fixture to more energy efficient technology.  You basically will take apart the existing fixture in place and replace components...or the "guts" of the fixture.  Depending on the style of existing light you will likely need the following components of a T-12 Retrofit. 

  • New Energy Efficient Ballast

  • New Tombstones (This is where the bulb is attached at both ends...because they sort of look like a tombstone I guess)

  • New Cover

  • 4 Energy Efficient Bulbs Instead of 2

The old 8' Bulbs are a real pain to handle so the best option is to use 4 bulbs instead of 2 long bulbs.  Again, you can still get the 8' T-8's if you want to, but they are much more difficult to handle.  The 4' T-8's are much easier to store.

The retrofit materials are a little less expensive than a new replacement fixture, but it may take a little more labor to replace the components.  I did this in my garage and it took about 15-20 minutes per fixture.  The advantage is not having to take the fixture down. 

Benefit: Better light, reduced wattage, longer life bulbs, less maintenance.

2.Replace Existing Fixtures With New T-8 or T-5

Take them DOWN, Put Brand New Fixtures Back UP

If you really want a new fixture, then you can replace the fixture all-together with a new energy efficient T-8. 

This step is really not necessary unless the old fixtures are just too dirty.  The labor for taking down the old and putting up a new would be pretty close to the same as retrofitting the fixture. 

Benefit: Same as above, the only difference is the shell of the fixture.

3.Re-design To Reduce Energy Cost and Increase Quality of Light

Take Them All Down, Re-design Your Light

This is one of the best ways to change the lighting and energy efficiency of your facility.  This is taking the area, looking at the dimensions and calculating your lighting levels comparing old lighting levels to new lighting levels. 

By using a photometric layout, your lighting designer can provide the least amount of fixtures necessary while maximizing the amount of light to increase lighting levels.

At the Crippen Automall in Lansing MI, we were able to replace 37 8' T-12 High Output Fluorescent with 16 2x4 T-5 Fixtures.  The wattage of the T-12 was 237 watts and the new fixture was 190 watts. 

Here's a quick video about what Crippen's Body Shop Manager thinks about his new lights.


So for example, if we would have just completed a one for one switch with this fixture, we would have reduced the wattage by 47 watts per fixture, or a reduction of 1739 watts total.


We replaced the 37 with 16 T-5's at 190 watts each.  The total wattage of the old 37 fixturs was 8,769 before and with the 16 fixtures it was 3,040 watts total. 

By redesigning the area, we were able to reduce the wattage by 5,729 watts. 

Footcandles Before Re-design - 35 Footcandles

Footcandles After Re-design - 65 Footcandles. 

By redesigning the area, we were able to reduce total wattage by over 60% and at the same time increase the lighting level by nearly 100%.   This type of difference cannot be achieved without a photometric layout and designing the area to achieve the objectives set forth by the owner while helping them improve energy efficiency.

Want to Increase the Quality of Light While Reducing Your Energy Costs?

Photometric renderings are usually something that you wouldn't do on your own.  Hovey Electric provides photometric layouts for projects that need a complete new layout or we think we can reduce the number of fixture. 

Hovey Electric will provide the photometric with our proposal so you know exactly what you will be getting in your new lighting project.  Need  a photometric layout for your facility?

Want to See if Energy Efficiency is For You?  Take a look at our FREE E-book: Business Owners Guide to Energy Efficiency. 

Or Take a look at our Quick Energy Calculators Page and You can figure out if an energy efficiency upgrade would make sense for your facility.


Topics: energy efficient, energy efficient lighting