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.
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.
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
Someone may correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think a T8 bulb will work
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.
When the T8 ballasts first came on the scene, I don't think any that I
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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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