It’s only five months away. T12 fluorescent lamps used to be the standard for commercial lighting systems, but they will soon be totally off the market.
It started back in July 2010, when the U.S. Department of Energy introduced a fluorescent lighting mandate that stopped the production of the magnetic ballasts most commonly used for T12 lamps. And on July 14, 2012, the manufacture and import of most T12 lamps in the U.S. will be halted. After that date, suppliers may sell their remaining inventory, but there will be no more production once the existing stock is depleted.
Now, keep in mind that T12 fluorescent technology is 70 years old. John Philip Bachner of the National Lighting Bureau wrote a fantastic article recently about why they’re being phased out. He challenges facility managers to think of the change as an opportunity rather than a nuisance, and relates a T12 fluorescent lamp to a ’38 Chevy: Both were technological marvels of their eras. You’d think it were strange if someone used a ’38 Chevy for their daily commute, yet millions of T12 fluorescent lamps light U.S. buildings every day.
T12 fluorescent lamps are simply fluorescent tubular light fixtures that are 12/8ths of an inch in diameter. Since the technology of T12 lamps was developed so long ago, it’s leaps and bounds behind in terms of efficiency. T12 lamps can now be replaced by T5 lamps (5/8ths of an inch in diameter) and T8 lamps (8/8ths of an inch in diameter), and building owners will see energy savings as high as 45% per year. Also, there’s a simple payback of just one to three years. Finally, the lighting upgrade will ensure reduced maintenance costs and concerns.