T5 vs T8 vs LED: The Best Options For Replacing Aging T-12 Fixtures

Posted by Dave VanTol on Sat, Dec 08, 2012 @ 07:12 AM

You Want To Be Energy Efficient....So What Are Your Options For Linear Fluorescent?

Older T12 linear fluorescent lamps are not exactly what many would consider inefficient, but by todays standards they are. Most business owners don't even realize what they have been using over the years.  One thing is for sure, they are now OLD technology.

T12: What Are My Options?Energy-efficient-lighting-replacements-t12-vs-t-8

Linear fluorescent T12 lamps are best described as the "fat" lamps. If you look at the end of them they are roughly 1.5" across. They have an average life of roughly 18-20,000 hrs.

Replace With Energy Efficient T-8

The most direct replacement for them is the T8 lamp, which if viewed from the end has a width of 1" or about the size of a quarter.

Better Life Expectancy

The good news is that the replacement lamps are cheaper and have a life expectency between 36-42,000 hrs.

Use The Same Light Socket

The sockets where the lamps plug into can be reused. The bad news is that a ballast change will be required.

You Will Need A New Energy Efficient Ballast

While changing the ballast is not a big ordeal it should be done by a qualified electrician. T8 lamps are offered in the same "color" or "kelvin" as the lamps they are replacing. One very nice feature of going with T8 lamps is you can actually get a 28W or 25W "reduced wattage" lamp that will save even more money than the standard 32W lamp.

While most T12 lamps are 4' long, there are a good portion of 8' lamps out there in strip style fixtures. Luckily there is a direct T8 replacement for it, also requiring a ballast change.

Conversion Kits Are Available

For those looking to standardize inventories you can also get conversion kits which will use two 4' T8 lamps to replace an existing 8' T12 lamp. Again, this kit and ballast should be installed by a qualified electrician.

LED:That's right, they work here too.

LED Tubes Are A Good Way To Go

LED tubes are a more recent introduction into the market. It is nothing more than a strip of LED assembled into a 4' tube.

Caution should be used when selecting this option as there are a lot of "junk" on the market. Be sure to use a trusted brand.

Beneftis Of LED Tubes Include:Energy-efficient-led-lighting-tennessee-kentucky

  • Startup in any temperature
  • Over 50,000 hr lamp life
  • 15 watts energy use for a 4' tube

All the benefits are very appealing as they have overcome most of the drawbacks of fluorescent lighting.The ballast is not used for the LED tubes so minor wiring will be required inside of the existing fixture, be sure to use a qualified electrician for your installation.

I really like what I am seeing both in fluorescent options and LED. The choice of what to use boils down to what you need from your lighting, and the environment it's in. 

Other Options:Retrofit To T-5 Fluorescent

T5 lamps are an alternative I have seen used in  2X4 fixtures. I have seen kits that retrofit an existing 4 lamp fixture into a 2 lamp T5 fixture.

Going to a two lamp T5 actually reduces the wattage and results in MORE light.

Normal T12's last around 18-20,000 hours where as the T5 has a rating of 30,000 hours.

What About 2'x2' Fixtures?

For 2x2 fixtures that use the U shaped lamps the best option is to do a ballast change and use T8 style U lamps. The only thing you need to make sure of is measure between the lamp sockets. There are 2 different widths of lamp so you will need to know that when ordering the T8 replacements.

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Topics: T-12, t8 lighting, energy efficient fluorescent lighting, fluorescent t5, t5 retrofit, t5 vs. t8, t12 retrofit, t5 lighting, t8 fixtures, energy efficient fluorescent