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What is T8 Lighting? How is it different from the older T12 bulbs?

Fluorescent Lighting has long been the smart choice for today's home. While all fluorescents are more energy efficient than common incandescent bulbs, not all fluorescent lights are created equal.

T8 Electronic versus T12 Magnetic

Modern Fluorescent fixtures with the newer T8 lamps and electronic ballasts far surpass the benefits of traditional T12 fluorescents.

Fluorescent Light Bulb Type:

T8 - A T8 lamp is 1" in diameter (8 8 = 1")
Available Wattages: 17W - 24", 25W - 36", 32W - 48"

T12 - A T12 lamp is 1-1/2" in diameter (12 8 = 1-1/2")
Available Wattages: 15W - 18", 20W - 24", 30W - 36", 34/40W - 48"



T8 lamps use Electronic ballasts, which use semi-conductor components, along with other components. Electronic ballasts start instantly and operate virtually silent, with no flickering. They also provide increased efficiency in light output with less energy consumption than traditional T12 magnetic ballasts. T8 electronic fixtures have now become the standard in new construction and retrofit applications. They are required in certain states, such as California, in order to pass certain building requiements (Title 24)

T12 lamps use Magnetic ballasts, which use a "core & coil" assembly to transform electrical current to start and operate the lamps. Although far better than standard incandescent, not nearly as efficient as T8 Electronic.

Advantages of T8 Electronic vs. Traditional Fixtures

T12 Magnetic Ballast Fixture

T8 Electronic Ballasted

Light Output

Energy (1)

Cost Savings (2)

2 light T12 4' Fluorescent Fixture (old technology)

2 light T8 4' Fluorescent Fixture (new technology)

Saves 22%

$ 7.01

4 light T12 4' Decorative Fluorescent fixture (old technology)

4 light T8 4' Decorative Fluorescent fixture (new technology)

Saves 22%

$ 14.02

4 light T12 4' Decorative Fluorescent fixture (old technology)

3 light T8 4' Decorative Fluorescent fixture (new technology)


Saves 41%

$ 26.71

(1) Annual savings based on $0.10/KWH, 12 hours/day, 365 days.
(2) Cost savings per fixture per year based on $.10/KWH, 12 hours/day, 365 days


Specific Advantages to T8 Electronic Fixtures

Energy Saving

T8 electronic fixtures can save over 40% in annual energy costs!* That's $ 26.71 saved per fixture every year!

*Based on (3) 32W T8 light bulbs at 6,186 lumens and (4) 34W T12 at 6,344 lumens, 12 hrs/365 days for $0.10/kwh

Annual Cost Comparison per Fixture
T8 = $38.11         T12 = $64.82
SAVINGS = $26.76

True Color

True Color
  • Fluorescent T8 lamps make colors look truer longer than T12's.
  • T8 bulbs come in a wide range of color temperatures that can simulate the soft incandescent like color (3000K) or have light more like daylight (5000K+), so colors appear more natural and images sharper.
  • On an index scale that measures color respective to natural sunlight (100%), T8 lamps have a color index rating from 75 thru 90+ for more vibrant natural colors. On average, T12 lamps have an index of only 74+.

Light Output & Length of Life

  • T8 fluorescents have better light output over the life of the lamp than T12's.
  • After 10,000 hours, T8 lamps are still running at 95% light output, unlike T12's, which are at only 85%. T8's also last up to 24,000 hours versus 20,000 hours for T12's.
  • Fluorescent T8 Electronic fixtures give 40% more light output than T12 Energy Saving Magnetic. That's three T8 lamps for almost as much light as four T12!

    Cool, Quiet, & Flicker-Free Operation

    • Overall lower operating temperatures extend ballast life and reduce air conditioning costs.
    • In many cases low temperature operation, starting down to 0 F is possible without the need of costly cold weather ballasts.
    • T8 electronic ballasts are nearly silent compared to traditional T12 fluorescents.
    • Fluorescent T8 fixtures do not flicker, for less eyestrain, better relaxation and concentration.
Article ID: 10002 Article Created: 12-03-2008 15:08 PMLast Modified: 12-03-2008 15:11 PM

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