Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Future Looks Bright with T8 and T5 Fluorescent Tube Lights

Fluorescent tube lights have long been a lighting staple in offices, grocery stores, and big-box stores. For a long time T12 fluorescent tube lights have been used, unfortunately they proved rather inefficient and quite large and thus difficult to install and maintain. Recently T8 bulbs have become popular and have proved to be a smaller and more efficient alternative to its oversize predecessor. T8s are quickly becoming the industry standard for fluorescent tube lighting. The T8 is 1in in diameter, compared to the 1.5in diameter of T12s, and produces more light with greater lamp efficacy than T12s. Although luminosity fluctuates depending on manufacturer and bulb model, generally speaking T8s range from 30w to 50w and 2,650 lumens to 3,200 lumens. Generally speaking, T8s range in price from $1.75 t0 $2.50.

Much has been written on the differences and advantages, or lack thereof, of T5s over T8s. Rather than make a definitive conclusion on this issue, the differences between T5s and T8s will be enumerated so you can make an educated decision on which bulb fits your needs yourself. The fundamental difference between T5s and T8s has to do with the tube’s size. T5s have a diameter of 5/8in and are smaller than the 1in (8/8in) T8. T5s are typically more efficient than T8s. TFs have a luminous efficacy of 103lm/w compared to the T8’s luminous efficacy of 92lm/w. Both the T5 and T8 are much more efficient than the larger T12, whose luminous efficacy is 78lm/w. Put in slightly different terms, the T8 is 41% more efficient than the T12 and the T5 51% more efficient than the T5. The superior luminous efficacy of the T5 does not guarantee better performance than the T8. A poor quality T5 will be outperformed by a high quality T8. Furthermore, T5s are typically more expensive than T8s with a price typically ranging from $5.50 to $10.50. Another consideration that you’ll want to make is that a T5 will not fit into the more common T8’s light fixture 

Therefore you will either have to buy new fixtures for your T5 or purchase retrofitting kits. Though these kits are not very expensive, it is certainly a variable you’ll want to consider. You may also have to replace your lamp ballast which will be another expense you may encounter. Generally, T8 ballasts are less expensive because they are an older technology that is more widely produced by manufacturers and wholesalers. This will likely change over time, however T8 bulbs, ballasts, and fixtures are presently less expensive.

With regard to color and light quality, there does not seem to be a substantial difference between T8s and T5s. Both T8s and T5s typically have a CRI of 85 and have similar luminosities. There is no right answer when it comes to choosing between T8s or T5s. The essential question to ask yourself in making your decision is whether the additional energy savings of the T5s justifies the higher costs of the bulbs, ballasts, and fixtures. Regardless of whether you choose T5s or T8s, you will be saving energy and money. Luckily BulbAmerica has both T5s and T8s in stock to give you the most flexibility. Check them out now!


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