Fluorescent linear T12 lighting was the most widely used technology in commercial buildings until about 10 years ago. Now a declining technology, the rising popularity of its challengers T8 and T5 is due to better performance and energy efficiency—and most important for building owners and managers, savings in lighting costs. I’ve seen savings as high as 75% in some estimates, depending on which technology is replacing T12, electric rates, and whether automatic turn-off is in use.

When and how to upgrade are the questions?

Why do more than 500 million T12 lamps remain in commercial buildings, according to the Department of Energy (DOE, 2010), and why is approximately nearly one in three linear fluorescent lamps sold a T12 (reported by National Electrical Manufacturer Association member sales data for Q3, 2011)?

The most obvious answer is because it’s tempting to hold on to functioning T12 lighting systems as long as possible (until they fail). The downside of this thought, however, is operating a T8 lamp on a T12 ballast can result in the lamp either not starting, short life, uneven lighting aesthetics, and risk of fire (or any safety danger).

But when electrical distributor inventories of non-compliant lamps and ballasts evaporate, owners will have to decide when and how to either upgrade their T12 lighting systems—all at once or individually as they fail. Should they install new lamps and ballasts only or brand-new light fixtures? Should they incorporate automatic lighting controls to maximize energy cost savings?

Cost-effective compromises

Take advantage of T5 and T8 RetroFit Conversion Kits to quickly, easily, and cost-effectively get the full job done at a fraction of product and labor costs with total fixture replacement. In light of the following cost advantages, it pays not to wait:

  • Reduced energy costs
  • Volume purchasing discounts
  • Utility rebates (while they still last) and other tax and loan incentives such as the Commercial Buildings Deduction
  • Avoid maintenance errors that can result in higher costs for damaged components

Engineered Products Company Inc. (EPCO) is the premier brand supplier of specialty products to electrical distributors and contractors. Headquartered in Minnetonka, MN (a suburb west of Minneapolis), EPCO has supported the electrical industry since 1976 by supplying a broad range of standard and unique consumables for commercial, industrial, residential and agriculture buildings.