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By James Piper, P.E.
Lighting Article Use Policy
For existing facilities assessing their lighting-retrofit options, managers have three choices: do nothing and hope for the best; convert existing fixtures by replacing the existing magnetic ballasts with electronic ballasts and installing T8 or T5 lamps; or replace existing fixtures with new ones that use electronic ballasts and T8 or T5 lamps.
The first option of doing nothing simply pushes the issue further into the future, when the availability of replacement T12 lamps and ballasts at best will be more expensive, if they are available at all.
The decision to convert or replace existing fixtures should depend primarily on the condition and suitability of the existing fixtures to the task. If existing fixtures are in good condition and meet the space's lighting needs, conversion is a viable option.
Managers should not convert all fixtures without considering the age of the units, even those that work properly. Lighting fixtures typically have a service life of 20-25 years. If the existing fixtures are approaching the end of their rated service lives or are in poor condition, replacement is the best option.
Another factor to consider when evaluating conversion versus replacement is the total cost of the lighting-system upgrade. Managers need to investigate incentives for lighting-system retrofits utilities and state and federal governments offer, as well as check if those incentives apply to the replacements of ballasts, lamps, and total fixtures.
T12 Lamps: Strategies for Successful Retrofits
How to Retrofit T12 Lamps with T8s, T5s
Incentives for Lighting-System Upgrades