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


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.

Want To Learn More About Energy Efficient Lighting?

Learn more about energy efficiency and the benefits that energy efficient lighting can have on your business. 

We created a special e-book to teach business owners about energy efficiency strategies for their business.  

Click the button below....or Contact us in the comments section and let Hovey Electric show you the benefits and savings of energy efficient lighting.





DOE stated LED are still not up to lumens delivered versus T8 T5 or. T5HO, so use caution
Posted @ Thursday, January 02, 2014 7:09 AM by Ed
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Posted @ Tuesday, February 18, 2014 6:46 AM by LED Decorative Lights in Chennai
The T5 has better lumen efficiency compared to T8/T12 but in the end a lower amount of total lumen capacity. 35WT5 compared to 58WT8, that is.  
Energy, money and carbon emissions are being saved, but comes with little less lumen output. A reflector can direct the light beam towards workspace for a higher Lux rate compared to the conventional T8/T12 fixtures.  
Did you also knew there is one moisture proof T5 retrofit adapter developed by ELAM Lighting, former Philips team manager? This can be implemented in your old T8 IP65 fixtures. (foto) 
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There is a newer LED retrofit kit for fluorescent fixtures that installs in about 5 It comes with two LED strips and 1 driver. You basically remove the 4ft fluorescent bulbs, then disconnect the old ballasts from the power source. Then attach the two new LED strips magnetically to the fixture and connect to the new driver (which is also magnetically attached). 
Works very well and only uses 40 watts of power for 5170 lumens of light.
Posted @ Tuesday, January 27, 2015 7:00 PM by mike
To replace the 4'T8 linear fluorescent with 4' LED T8 is necessary to disconnect the old ballast from the power source? What means "simple to install no wiring required?"
Posted @ Thursday, May 21, 2015 9:13 AM by nicolo' fortunato
Those are good questions and I had them also. Based on comments posted on Amazon, it appears one must disconnect the power wires that go to the ballast and connect them instead to the replacement tombstone (bulb holder) that the seller ships with their LED tube. Replacing the tombstone means a little bit of dis-assembly of the fixture and of course no one should disconnect power wires without ensuring that the power is off.
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