The Future of T12 Lamps

  May 13, 2011

This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor — Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip focuses on the future of T12 fluorescent lamps.

The T12 lamp has been the most widely used fluorescent unit in commercial and institutional buildings over the past 60 years. Today, facilities are replacing T12s with T8 and T5 lamps. These lamps are smaller in diameter, but they can produce the same light output of a T12 lamp while using about 40 percent less energy. Purchased in bulk, there is little difference in cost between T12, T8, and T5 lamps.

Although T8s and T5s will fit in the same fixture as T12 lamps, both require a different type of ballast than facilities commonly use with T12s. This issue makes it necessary for managers to upgrade each fixture's ballast when retrofitting with T8 or T5 lamps. Another issue likely to force managers to consider upgrades is a recent federal mandate.

The U.S. Department of Energy has mandated the phaseout of T12 fluorescent lamps and magnetic ballasts. As of Jan. 1, 2010, production ended for magnetic ballasts, the most commonly used ballast for T12 lamps. Some ballasts still might be around, but when inventories run out, no more will be available.

The second part of the effort to move toward more widespread use of higher-efficiency T8 and T5 lamps takes place in July 2012 with the phaseout of production of most T12 lamps. Some T12 ballasts and lamps will be available for special applications, including those subjected to low temperatures, those that dim fixture light output by more than 50 percent, and those designed and labeled for use in residential applications. Beyond that, the T12 will be history.


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