Fluorescent Lighting: The Benefits of T8 Over T12
Electric lighting accounts for approximately 25 percent of all the energy used in buildings in the U.S. Some of this lighting takes more energy than necessary. Short of turning the lights off, one way to cut back on this energy consumption is to install fluorescent lights in place of incandescent or halogen lighting. If you are using T12 lights in your establishment, making the switch to T8 fluorescent lighting will save the most in energy and money.
The fluorescent light is constructed of a tube-shaped lamp with a chemical phosphor coating on the inside of the tube. The output of light and color are controlled by components called ballasts.
T12 and T8 refer to diameters of lamp tubes. Thus a T12 lamp has a diameter of twelve eighths of an inch, or 1-1/2 inches. Typically, a narrower lamp is more energy-efficient. Since the T8 is eight eighths of an inch, or one inch in diameter, it is a more energy-efficient lighting mechanism than the T12. T-8 lamps are available a variety of lengths, and they also come in either straight or U-shaped lamps.
Top-quality T8 lamps function with reduced mercury, a potentially harmful substance used in many lighting fixtures. Although recycling is still recommended after the lamps are spent, these lamps are generally more sustainable than T12s. For lighting with no mercury content whatsoever, check out LED lighting.
- Retrofitting lamps from T12 bulbs to T8 bulbs is cost-effective and easy to do
- Transitioning from T12 to T8 usually costs about $20 per lamp, parts and labor included
- Installing T8 bulbs usually results in a five to seven year payback period in a commercial setting
- If you cannot upgrade all at once, upgrade as old T12 lamps burn out
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