Energy Efficiency T12 Lamps

Published on March 27th, 2012 | by Elizabeth Smyth


Say Goodbye to T12 Fluorescent Lamps (Businesses: Get Your Rebates Now!)

March 27th, 2012 by  

T12 Lamps

This July, U.S. lighting manufacturers will cease production of many T12 lamps in order to comply with Department of Energy (DOE) regulations. First announced in 2010, the DOE planned to phase out magnetic ballasts used in T12 lamps in favor of more energy-efficient T8 and T5 lamps.

Currently, the federal government uses financial incentives as a motivating factor for commercial lighting retrofits. Since T12 lamps will no longer be available, business consumers will have no choice but to utilize newer T8 and T5 lamps, meaning the government will no longer be offering rebates. So, if your company has been dragging its heels on a lighting retrofit, you may want to consider performing one now, before the rebates disappear.

Of course, incentives are only one reason to upgrade. According to, by replacing a T12 system with a T8 system, you can reduce energy use by 33% and save $12 per fixture per year. If you have 1,000 fixtures, that means $12,000 a year in energy savings. Plus, the normal payback period for upgrading to T5 or T8 lamps is usually only 1-3 years.

Additionally, the T12 lamp only lasts for approximately 28,800 hours, while a T8 lamp can last for 36,000 hours and a T5 for 52,000. A longer life for your lamps means lower maintenance costs for your business.

Source: T12 Phase Out For July

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About the Author

is a writer for Precision Paragon, an energy efficient commercial lighting manufacturer and a leading source for lighting retrofit solutions.

  • Once again, the “we know best” government interferes with the free market by dictating what light bulbs to buy. If T8 uses less energy than T12, there will automatically be an incentive for businesses and consumers to switch when the time is right for them.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Sometimes private enterprise is stupid. Then it needs a guiding hand from us, the citizens.

      Did you know that we, the citizens, are the government?


        That’s a riot. The zero-party system hasn’t represented “we the people” for decades.

        • Bob_Wallace

          We did a pretty good job with the White House this time around.

          Between health care and equality issues we the people have done pretty well.

          • Health care premiums are skyrocketing and people are more divided than ever, both directly because of the socialist racist demagogue currently occupying the White House. If you think that’s progress you’re clearly not paying attention.

  • expectations

    expected to buy all these unuseful things

    • MikeNZ

      If T8 is so good… why is it so dim? I’ve got T12: based on the hype, I bought and placed a T8 beside it to test (alternative to replacing aging T12 bulb). Even the “old, dead” T12 produced MUCH more light. Sorry folks… anyone can use less power by producing less light. That’s not why I’m here.

  • Rob

    I have to disagree with this entirely. I seems like a recycling of government numbers without any research. Have you actually calculated the math to this change over or just trusted the numbers as is… It is less efficient unless you like working in half the amount of light. The math was based around f48 T12 vs 48″ T8. They never calculated F96 T12 vs 48″ T8 or decided to exclude that in their math.

    Not only does F96 T12 out perform in lumens, it out performs in efficiency as you need two T8 light fixtures to match one T12 96″. T8 runs at 32 watts, t12 96 is 60 watts… but running two to match one… 64 watts vs 60… unless I have missed something or do not understand this completely (in which please correct me if I am wrong), I just don’t understand how this is effective.

    Only advantage is the ballasts to a T12 averages 28 000 hours say the experts vs 36 600 for the T8. Buying twice the amount of fixtures curbs that though.

    Typical gov regulation if you ask me.

    Just like forcing Compact fluorescent bulbs down our throats for the environment and yet they are filled with high levels of mercury.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “Just like forcing Compact fluorescent bulbs down our throats for the environment and yet they are filled with high levels of mercury.”

      So you recycle FUD. Typical right-wing behavior.

      Makes me doubt the rest of your post.

      • Rob

        I dont care for right and left wing rhetoric. I ask who the middle neutralist is supposed to vote for all the time. Where the party that lets man live free and not tell them how to live under left and right wing paradigm.

        Lets not make this political though.

        The recycle program in my area requires all items to be separated into bins and specially labelled boxes or they won’t pick them up. They distributed the bins with tax payer funds but people stole other people’s bins so they wouldn’t have to buy one for paper, one for plastic, one for electronics, one for paints and thinners. Putting these bulbs in recycling bins does not prevent them from breaking and releasing mercury. I have to drive over an hour to get to the closet disposal area that will accept these bulbs. I don’t drive though so I am left with a pile of mercury filled bulbs. Is there a program for people in my situation to get rid of these? I don’t know of any so I have stuck buying old bulbs. You have seen how recycling trucks pick up, yes? They lift it with a mechanical arm and throw it into a bin in the top of the truck where these bulbs get smashed.

        I am not trying to say I dont want an alternative and your slant on political spin motions me to think you believe that is my take on it. I am in full support of replacing these old bulbs… but not with mercury… No amount of energy use counters the effects mercury has on living organisms.

        • Bob_Wallace

          100 miles? Got an IKEA store closer than 100 miles?

          And so what if it’s 100 miles? You drive there at least once a year for other reasons? If you happen to have a burned CFL take it with you. It’s not like hauling a pile of concrete blocks.

          CFLs contain a tiny amount of mercury. They are not filled with high levels of mercury. Over their lifetime they will prevent enough coal from being burned and mercury released to more than make up for the very small amount of mercury in the bulb.

          And that’s assuming you break the bulb and release the mercury.

          Even if the unbroken bulb ends up in a landfill rather than getting recycled that mercury is back below ground rather than on the surface as is the case with coal-released mercury.

          CFLs = less mercury in the environment. Even if you were to take them outside and break them, releasing the mercury.

          CLFs = very much less mercury if the bulbs are recycled.

          You are left with a “pile” of CFLs? Are “you” a very large commercial enterprise with thousands of lights ablaze or a typical household? If the latter then you aren’t going to have “piles” of used up CFLs. I’ve been using CFLs for over 15 years and just retired my first one because it had grown quite dim after many years of use.

          LEDs are better than CFLs. But LEDs are still somewhat expensive and not available at higher lumen levels (100W incandescent replacement).

          CFLs can be purchased for less than $1 each. My suggestion is to replace your incandescents with CFLs. (But not outside bulbs or in heat trapping fixtures.) Start using LEDs for your most used lights and where CFLs don’t work.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Here are a bunch of places to recycle CFLs. Some, not all, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Orchard Supply, Lowe’s, etc.

          And do a search for places to recycle in your county.

          • Rob

            My company uses over 50 8′ T12 or T8 if you will, double ballast system bulbs to light the place. We go through minimum 4 cases a year of bulbs at 15 a pack. The closest store that will accept the bulbs is downtown Toronto which is a 40 minute drive with over 60 bulbs if we did this yearly. Any less and the economic value is placed purely on us. Selfish if you will, we have to place this cost on customers now to make operations viable as it has become a running cost with dynamic value rather than a fixed cost we can equate as the market is not stable around the value, replacement, and lawful viability of the units. If you looked into it, one of the largest most prevalent complaints of disposal and dump sites are CFL bulbs. You can blame this on lack of recycling but the bulbs are not handled appropriately at any stage to prevent mercury release. Having a bulb with Mercury of any form is ten times worse than what we have produced in the past.

          • Bob_Wallace

            How much mercury do you figure you’re spraying around your community when you burn coal to run your tubes?

        • Dustin F.

          Some say ignorance is bliss…only for the ignorant.
          Why do people complain about doing what is right for the environment? T8s are better than T12’s most buildings that have T12s are over lit per IES recommendations and can be retro fitted possibly delamped or re-designed for energy savings. the newest T8 lamp has a life
          rating of 84,000hrs.

  • Bill

    Why ban any product? Surely the market will decide on what’s the most cost effective option. It is anti-competitive to ban products and will increase the price of the replacements, although I’m sure the manufacturers of these products would be delighted.

    • Bob_Wallace

      What if the most cost effective option is harmful to society?

      Should you be allowed to harvest your tomatoes out of your neighbor’s garden because it’s your most cost effective option?

      • chris

        That would be a terrible violation of private property law–which is the cornerstone of any free market system.

        The problem lies in the question….Who determines what is harmful to society? I’m sure you are okay when it is your decision. But what if I decide that it is ‘harmful to society’ to allow a behavior you feel is perfectly alright or vice versa?

        Examples are plentiful….incandescent light bulbs, affordable housing, minimum wage, cash for clunkers, carbon tax, etc…

        Government projects all choose winners and losers. No matter what. Proponents of bills justify the programs to the losers by suggesting the program is ‘better for society’.

        Sure it may sound better for the environment to switch to LEDs, but at what cost? If LEDs are 5x the cost, maybe ‘society is better off’ buying the incandescents & using the other 80% of the LED costs on other charity or environmental efforts. Keep in mind the hidden costs…such as heavy metals in LED production, difficulty in recycling, and shipping from production centers. Also….the cost of landfilling/recycling all the old fixtures + the cost of producing/shipping/installing all the new fixtures.

        Lots of unintended consequences. The hallmark of most legislation.

        • Bob_Wallace

          The people in power have the ability to determine what is harmful to society. If the majority of us don’t agree with them then we replace them.
          Actually LEDs are more like 10x, 15x the cost of incandescents. If you look only at purchase price.

          If you’re able to think past five minutes then you might realize that the LED will pay for itself in about a year via few bulb purchases and electricity savings. And then it will let you keep money in your pocket for the next 15x more years. Money you would have thrown away using incandescent bulbs.

          If that isn’t picking a winner I don’t know what is.

  • PRei

    but if the the T8 replacements are so “great”, why ban the T12 alternatives

    Energy saving is not the only reason for choosing lighting one wants to use!
    If it really mattered, the T12 could be taxed and pay for price lowered subsidies on T8s, giving switchover without “just hitting people by taxes” yet also keeping choice.
    Same applies to incandescents incidentally…

    • Bob_Wallace

      Why not ban the not-so-good alternative T12s?

      It’s not like you’re punishing users by making them spend for fixture upgrades. You’re saving them money.

      Manufactures still get to make bulbs, just make them differently.

      At some point demand is almost certainly going to take a less efficient product off the market, banning them just pushed things forward faster.
      No foul. No harm. Why bunch your bloomers?

      • Biytor .

        All foul and harm. I rent my shop so I have to pay for this damned thing out of my pocket. At $70 a fixture and 30 fixtures that’s $2100 in fixtures and then there is the labor to replace them and the downtime for having to close bays to replace them. So I’m looking at somewhere in the range of $10,000 for this bullshit. No harm, no foul my ass.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Do the math. If you’re expecting to stay in business for a while then swapping over to more efficient lights should work for you.

          If you’re on the verge of business failure then you aren’t likely to pay for the system before you shut the doors.

          If you’re a struggling cash-strapped business then look at installing more efficient lamps as your current ones burn out. The labor cost is already locked in.

          You do realize that you’re posting to a two year old article, do you not? You might want to check and see if there aren’t better alternatives now.

  • Anne Green

    Great articel, thank you from

  • Thanks for the shout-out to Just read a few of your other articles as well. Keep up the great work!

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