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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has implemented efficiency standards for lighting products that eliminate the lowest-cost and least-efficient fluorescent lighting options from the market. This change will force many maintenance and engineering mangers in institutional and commercial facilities with older fluorescent-lighting systems to upgrade their systems.
Managers will have to choose whether to respond to the new standards reactively by upgrading over time to the lowest standard allowed by law, or proactively by upgrading all at once to lighting options that maximize energy cost savings and incentives, while potentially improving lighting quality.
Over the past decade, upgraded energy standards for fluorescent ballasts have been phased into effect, resulting in the elimination of manufacturing and importation of fluorescent T12 magnetic ballasts as of July 2010. While managers can use them and distributors can sell them until their inventories run out, ballast availability will diminish.
Similarly, starting July 14, 2012, new DOE standards will eliminate many popular 4- and 8-foot fluorescent T12 lamps. The result, with few exceptions, will be the elimination of: most 4-foot linear and 2-foot U-shaped T12 lamps; many 8-foot T12 and T12 high-output (HO) lamps; and all 2,800-lumen, 4-foot T8 lamps. While T12 lamps and ballasts are out of favor in new construction, managers in existing buildings buy millions of them each year. But as stocks of T12 lamps and ballasts deplete, managers will have no choice but to upgrade. They have several options.
One option is to stick with T12 lamps. This decision is possible if a manager uses a compliant ballast — an electronic T12 ballast — and a compliant lamp, which is a high-color-rendering lamp that satisfies an exemption clause or a lamp that meets the energy-efficiency standard.
T12 electronic ballasts are available from major manufacturers. Several manufacturers also offer lamps with high color rendering, but these lamps come with a trade-off in the form of lower light output. At least one manufacturer offers several 4-foot 34-watt (W) and 40 W T12 rapid-start, bi-pin lamps.
These products comply with efficiency standards without the high color rendering exemption and lower light output trade-off. These products come at a premium over standard T12 products.
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