Converting warehouse lighting from T12 to T8

My warehouse is lit by T12 based lights that seem like they are from 1970s or 1980s. The minus is that they look old, the plus is that they are still around after all those years.
As we all know, T12 is being replaced by T8 and T5 lights.
This is all fine and dandy, but the old ballast technology seems to be a lot more reliable. I hear people complaining that all those "energy savings" end up being paid to electricians swapping those electronic ballasts, that die right after warranty expires.
First of all, is this a valid concern?
Second, I am convinced that the world knows how to make reliable electronic ballasts. It is just that the manufacturers choose to make crap, for the usual reasons. That said, are there T8 ballasts that are "honestly made" and reliable?
I am facing the fact that I need to do something about my lighting. I do not want to do something stupid.
i
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Ignoramus4193 wrote:

My shop lighting is 7 of the $15 dual T8 fixtures from 'Depot/Lowe's, some of the fixtures are now about 9 years old and still working fine, so I don't think it's a big concern.

Certainly the name brand ballasts that are sold as replacements are good, and in my experience even the cheapo original ballasts installed in cheapo fixtures are fine.

Don't buy the cheapest and don't buy the most expensive. Get quality name brand Lithonia or similar fixtures in bulk so you get the savings there, buy the lamps for them in bulk and US made and you should be good for quite some time.
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On Wed, 28 Dec 2011 19:19:50 -0600, Ignoramus4193

As I understand it, T12 tubes are going away. But T8 tubes "usually" work fine with T12 ballast. I've seen it said the T8 tubes don't last as long in a T12, but no proof of that. Try some T8 tubes in a couple fixtures and see how that goes. No sense changing the ballasts if it's costing you nothing to keep them. --Vic
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On Wed, 28 Dec 2011 20:30:38 -0600, Vic Smith

It is costing something to keep them. New fixtures are more efficient. Worth checking what the payback is and what rebates are available.
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with a T12 ballast.
Part of my job requires the conversion of T12 to T8 within our campus. We are changing all ballasts to T8 universal 120-277v. Sticking a T8 bulb in a fixture with T12 doesn't light the bulb.
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On 12/28/2011 8:19 PM, Ignoramus4193 wrote:

came in contact with commercially, lasted more than a year. I couldn't say how many generations have past since then, but the current crop of electronic ballasts seem quite durable to me. Having said that, very often magnetic ballasts die a slow death, where as electronic ballasts go instantly, when they die. also a three or four light fixture would have more than one magnetic ballast, so the entire fixture doesn't die at the same time as with an electronic ballast.
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On Wed, 28 Dec 2011 19:19:50 -0600, Ignoramus4193

Is this a commercial warehouse? If so, contact the power company. Some are offering rebates for new lighting. We did our production and warehouse and the rebate was about $9000.
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On 12/28/2011 10:29 PM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

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On Wed, 28 Dec 2011 22:38:35 -0500, Parker Farnsworthy

No, it is financed by other corporations. A portion of the bill goes to that category for rebates. The residential rebate is from a residential account. If you don't take your share, someone else is going to and you still pay into it.
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wrote:

Where do you think that money comes from? You think the power company has a nest egg stashed away in the sock drawer for this?
No, they blow every penny that comes in just like the rest of us. When faced with either upgrading the system or paying people to cut demand, they go crying to the government for a hand-out.
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On 12/29/2011 8:58 AM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Yep, the only difference between a welfare check and a corporate bailout is the number of digits before the decimal place.
Either way, Joe "W-2" Wageslave gets stuck with the bill.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Exactly. There's nice little below the line charge on my electric bill every month called "Energy Conservation Fee" that funds these program in my area.
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wrote:

It's not money from the government, it's something worked out with the public service commission and paid for by consumers. You would also pay for the construction of a new power plant, if that was necessary.
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Yes, 100% commercial warehouse. 10k square feet. I got some quotes and I will be getting some rebates.
i
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On Wed, 28 Dec 2011 23:44:43 -0500, Ecnerwal

We've replaced six GE ballasts that are three years old. I think they were made in China too. They were under warranty though.
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-snip-

Got a BOSCES or trade school nearby? Might be a good project for the kids-- bring them 1/2 at a time.
If all your lights are the same, it is easy once the pattern is figured out. In my dozen I ran across 4-5 different ways that they were wired up. [I don't remember any particulars, but remember a fair amount of head-scratching went on during the project]
Oh-- and I have to say these have been more reliable than my collection of cheap shoplights that I had accumulated. 2 years down and not even a bulb has needed replacing. About 1/2 of them are on 12/7.
Jim
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On Wed, 28 Dec 2011 19:19:50 -0600, Ignoramus4193

Yes, GE and Magnatek and the other biggies know how.
Now whether they'll DO it is a whole different question - it's a huge learning curve as they try using crap commodity SMT devices on the electronic ballasts, they blow up in service, and they have to deal with a crapload of warranty returns.
Always Date Everything - get paint markers and put the date on the fixture can and the ballast itself when you install it. They can try to argue about it, but you can show them the date and the invoices associated with that ballast, it's still in warranty, gimme another.
They'll try to make the warranty date when you bought it, you might have to fight to start the clock when you actually put it in service 3 or 6 months later. But you can get it.
Lithonia is getting a lot of the F22T9 Circline fixtures back from me with blown Chinese crap ballasts - often it's the electrolytics going Bang somewhere between 1 and 2 years. Same fixture only running a few hours a day, and far less problems.
Having to run 24/7 is the worst duty for an electronic ballast, but you can't get magnetics anymore. But one building I deal with just goes and orders themselves another dozen new fixtures, and I swap the whole thing when the old one blows... Go figure.
The best ones are the ballast boards in the screw-in CFL Fluorescents that not only blow up they catch on fire. "Mean Time Between Failures" isn't supposed to include Flamage.

That's never stopped you before... ;-P :rimshot:
Check out the prices on retrofitting what you've got with electronic ballasts, reflectors, and new lamps, and putting up new strips totally. And since that was a cutter grinding shop and you're going to find lots of "surprises" up there, I'd weight it more toward total replacement.
The reflectors on new or retrofit lights are important, you really don't need to light up the ceiling - you want the light going down on your work. And they've done studies, specular chrome doesn't work any better than a nice clean white.
For the "Warehouse" areas that are wired and rigged for Low Bay or High Bay lights, you get the pre-made 6-lamp T-5 replacements and pop them into the same space. But you get the lights dropped to 9' or so over Repair and Cleanup work tables and the Shipping area - levels need to be a lot higher for fine work.
And with any system, pay attention to the options.
If the Warehouse has 50 lights on one or two 277V circuits you want to put individual fuseholders in each fixture. Because you'll play hell tracking down a grounded ballast that takes the whole room out at one shot - the fuse will clear that fixture alone, and the rest go merrily burning along.
Put "Night Lights" over the back and side doors, over the power panel, and a few on the aisles, just enough light to keep from killing yourself if you have to maneuver back to the power panels with the main room lights off. Try to get Old School fixtures with magnetic ballasts for this, and put a service switch on the side of the can so you can cut off the 24/7 fixture long enough to work on it.
--<< Bruce >>--
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