T12 Fluorescent Tubes Banned

What are my options when replacing a T12 Fluorescent Bulb?

Lighting technology has come a long way. It used to be that a light bulb had to be bigger than your fist if you wanted to have a 300-watt bulb. Now with the shift in digital technology, we are able to simply press a button on our phone and, “let there be light.”

But with these advancements there have been a few “sacrifices” made so that we can become a more energy efficient society, and keep the environment clean. But what do you do when you are trying to replace a lightbulb that is no longer available or on the market?

T12 Fluorescent Tubes Banned

If you are a construction worker or an electrician you have probably come across the problem, during a renovation or project, of finding light bulbs or materials that have been discontinued. These light fixtures were probably no longer made, and were in need of being changed or upgraded. T12 linear fluorescent lamps happen to be one of those bulbs. Like most major changes that are made in the country this one was decided by the US Congress.

Now you may be thinking, “why did they have to make my job harder,” and while that wasn’t their goal the answer is quite simple. Earlier on, around 1992, the Department of Energy (DOE) were given orders by Congress to keep an eye on the lighting standards as the technology grew so that they could make the appropriate changes. With the creation of LEDs the time for those changes came.

In response, Congress made legislation stating that T12 linear fluorescents and other inefficient lighting technologies would no longer be manufactured. This legislation was put into action in 2012 with the DOE regulating T12 linear fluorescent lamps as a way of encouraging consumers to be more energy efficient.

What do the New DOE Laws Mean for T12 Lamp Manufacturers and Users?

The new DOE laws regarding T12 lamps bring into effect a ban on the manufacturing of T12 fluorescent lamps. The laws imply that after July 14th, 2012, lamp manufacturers will not be able to manufacture that size of fluorescent lamps. Retailers and distributors will also not be able to import these lamps from off-shore manufacturers and sell them in the United States. However, the guidelines clarified that the producers can manufacture T12 lamps using their existing raw materials inventory. Similarly, the laws also laid down that distributors and retailers can continue selling the lamps until their existing stocks were exhausted.

The above-mentioned ban affects the following varieties of T12 lamps: the two-foot (24 inches) U-shaped lighting devices, the four-foot (48 inches) lamp fitted with a bi-pin base, and the eight-foot (96 inches) lamp that may be equipped with either a single-pin or a recessed double contact base.

The DOE laws on the manufacture and sale of T12 lamps have not affected consumers directly. For instance, business owners can use the T12 lamps in their businesses without violating the DOE laws. However, now that the ban has been in effect for such a long time, you may no longer find T12 lamps on sale in the hardware stores. What is more, the DOE has already imposed bans on T12 lamp accessories such as ballasts. So business and commercial space owners will find it challenging to repair their existing lights.

The above laws of the DOE are moves by the government to get business owners to adopt energy-efficient lighting devices.

The Case Against T12 Bulbs that Invited the Ban

The DOE always seeks to encourage business owners across the United States to adopt energy-efficient lighting devices. As part of this drive, the DOE sponsors research and development work of energy-efficient lighting devices. The DOE occasionally phases out inefficient lighting products from the market so that users feel compelled to switch to the more efficient versions.

The ban on T12 lamps is due to the inefficiency of this particular type of lighting device. T12 fluorescent lamps have been in use for a long time. It was a popular choice amongst business owners who wished to illuminate their work spaces effectively and cost-efficiently. However, this lamp has certain inherent disadvantages. Although more energy-efficient than the incandescent bulb, the four-foot T12 lamp still consumes a whopping 40 watts/hour. On the other hand, the more modern T8 lamp consumes anything between 25 and 32 watts/hour.

What is more, the modern-day energy-efficient lighting devices (the T8 and the T5 varieties and LED lights) also produce better-quality light than the T12 lamps. So with the advent of these energy-efficient bulbs, there was no dearth of consumer incentive to replace existing T12 lights with its more energy-efficient counterparts. The DOE ban on T12 lamps only hastened the adoption process.

The T12 lamps also suffer from other disadvantages. For instance, these lamps are not long-lasting and need to be replaced frequently. This adds to the operational costs of these lamps and increases the expenses of a business owner. On the other hand, these lamps are also environmentally hazardous. These lamps release toxic mercury and PCB waste products when they end up in the landfills. By the laws of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), lamps that release toxic waste must be disposed using special techniques. So business owners using T12 lamps have to bear additional expenses when disposing these lighting devices.


Are T12 fluorescent bulbs being phased out?

As a result, in 2009, the department announced the eventual phase out of the 1.5-inch-diameter fluorescent T12 tubes. The mandate said production of the tubes would have to cease after July 14, 2012. Big-name manufacturers like Philips and Sylvania were granted two-year extensions on the deadline.

Can I replace a T12 with a T8?

T8 LED lamps which are not direct-wire compatible (with ballast) will require a T8 ballast to operate, so unless the T12 ballast in the T12 fixture is replaced with a T8 ballast, a non-direct-wire compatible T8 LED lamp will not work in a T12 fixture.

Can I replace a T12 fluorescent light tube with an LED tube?

T8 LED tubes won’t fall out if you try to install them in a T12 fixture—they’ll fit just fine. But here’s some even better news: If you have a T12 fixture, conversion to LED is going to be even easier than with a T8 fixture. This is because T12 fixtures have non-shunted tombstones, exactly what you need for LED tubes.

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