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The Most-Common Fluorescent Light Tubes Are Going Away This Year
Old 01-13-2014, 12:28 AM   #1
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The Most-Common Fluorescent Light Tubes Are Going Away This Year

I did a quick search here, and did not find any hits on this topic.

We all know about the regular 40w and 60w incandescent light bulbs and January 1, 2014. They are in stores till the stock runs out.

But the phase-out of the most commonly used fluorescent light tubes on July 14, 2014 has never been picked up by the media radar.

Originally, they were to be no longer manufactured or imported effective July of 2012, but the lighting manufacturers (of the bulbs) petitioned for a 2-year extension to July of 2014 due to a lack of rare-earth materials in the US. The extension to July 2014 was granted.

Going away are T12 40w 4 foot tubes, 8 foot tubes, the U-tube, etc. "T12" is the tube diameter in eighths of an inch. A T12 is 1 1/2" in diameter. A few T8 (1" diameter)tubes are going away also.

Info is hard to find on this, most documents were not updated after the extension, and still have the 2012 date.

This GE link has (almost) all the dates updated, and is one of the clearest I have found yet:
http://www.gelighting.com/LightingWe...m201-22941.pdf

T12s and T8s run at different currents and use different ballasts, so there is no real drop-in replacement that I know of.

This issue has NOT been picked up by the media, don't know why. Maybe it is too "technical" for them
It would seem that eventually it will hit the fan...

I suspect lighting fixture manufacturers and distributors are having a field day with this, lots of $$$ for them as fixtures will be replaced. Think of all the houses, schools, buildings of all sorts that have them all over.

You might be using these fluorescent tubes in your kitchen, bathrooms, garage, basement, workshop, etc.
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Old 01-13-2014, 05:08 AM   #2
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Those T12 bulbs are both energy inefficient and hazardous since they contain mercury and phosphorus which require special hazardous disposal. I'm annoyed that the government didn't go further in what it did: I rather would hope that they would go ahead and ban the CFLs that are currently being sold because of the mercury gas in them, which is hazardous to small pets and young children, and the T12 bulbs are even more dangerous. The potential harm, even though it is small, wasn't worth the bother switching from incandescent bulbs, as far as I'm concerned, and continuing to support CFLs like the government is will just keep LEDs from coming down in price sooner.
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Old 01-13-2014, 07:18 AM   #3
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Those T12 bulbs are both energy inefficient and hazardous since they contain mercury and phosphorus which require special hazardous disposal. I'm annoyed that the government didn't go further in what it did: I rather would hope that they would go ahead and ban the CFLs that are currently being sold because of the mercury gas in them, which is hazardous to small pets and young children, and the T12 bulbs are even more dangerous. The potential harm, even though it is small, wasn't worth the bother switching from incandescent bulbs, as far as I'm concerned, and continuing to support CFLs like the government is will just keep LEDs from coming down in price sooner.

I do not agree with you that often, but agree 100% with this post...

Having a bunch of small hazardous items in a home that can easily break is not a great idea... and I would bet very few people dispose of them properly.... (I know that we do not)....
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Old 01-13-2014, 09:28 AM   #4
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T12s and T8s run at different currents and use different ballasts, so there is no real drop-in replacement that I know of.
The older T12s and the newer T8s have the same pin spacing on the ends, and I've had no trouble using the T8 tubes in place of the T12s in my shop lights and overhead "troffers" (all 48"). The T8s have lower wattages but the light output is close to the same. Do the T8s really require different ballasts?

I don't find it especially difficult to store and dispose of these bulbs properly. I save them up (CFLs, long florescent tubes) along with other hazardous waste (rechargeable batteries, anything containing lead, old smoke detectors, etc) and once per year I take them to one of the quarterly community "hazardous waste day" events. The energy/cost savings (vs incandescent and LED alternatives) are worth it to me.
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Old 01-13-2014, 12:04 PM   #5
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Having a bunch of small hazardous items in a home that can easily break is not a great idea... and I would bet very few people dispose of them properly.... (I know that we do not)....
Why not? In my area Lowe's takes these and I'm there at least once or twice a month anyway. But if one is really concerned about the hazardous waste I don't see why one would throw it in the trash.
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Old 01-13-2014, 12:36 PM   #6
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It's a pretty tiny amount of mercury in the CFLs anyway and the risks are exaggerated -- don't eat tuna. However, I've been switching to LEDs. Unhappily, the Cree 6" can retrofits bulbs that I like were $35 last year when I replaced most of them and down to $22 when I went back for two more this year. The new A type bulbs are only $6 IIRC. I have some T12s in soffits that I would like to replace with LED tape, but with price going down so rapidly and lumens going up so rapidly, I decided to drag my feet on the project -- admittedly my default approach to DIY.
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Old 01-13-2014, 12:59 PM   #7
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The older T12s and the newer T8s have the same pin spacing on the ends, and I've had no trouble using the T8 tubes in place of the T12s in my shop lights and overhead "troffers" (all 48"). The T8s have lower wattages but the light output is close to the same. Do the T8s really require different ballasts?
I did not know about fluorescent tubes being phased out. I see that some T8s use 32W vs. 40W by the T12. I would guess it's close enough for the same ballast.

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It's a pretty tiny amount of mercury in the CFLs anyway and the risks are exaggerated -- don't eat tuna. However, I've been switching to LEDs. Unhappily, the Cree 6" can retrofits bulbs that I like were $35 last year when I replaced most of them and down to $22 when I went back for two more this year. The new A type bulbs are only $6 IIRC. I have some T12s in soffits that I would like to replace with LED tape, but with price going down so rapidly and lumens going up so rapidly, I decided to drag my feet on the project -- admittedly my default approach to DIY.
I recently bought my 1st LED at Home Depot. It's $10 for a 60W equivalent bulb.
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Old 01-13-2014, 01:09 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Telly View Post
I suspect lighting fixture manufacturers and distributors are having a field day with this, lots of $$$ for them as fixtures will be replaced. Think of all the houses, schools, buildings of all sorts that have them all over.

You might be using these fluorescent tubes in your kitchen, bathrooms, garage, basement, workshop, etc.
Yes, and I'll probably be replacing ballasts when it happens. I only have a few of these.

I think a lot of commercial people have gotten the word. Our church sexton has been working on this for a few years now, slowly replacing the ballasts and connectors. He was pretty worked up over this because as you mention, it was originally 2012.

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Those T12 bulbs are both energy inefficient and hazardous since they contain mercury and phosphorus which require special hazardous disposal. I'm annoyed that the government didn't go further in what it did: I rather would hope that they would go ahead and ban the CFLs that are currently being sold because of the mercury gas in them, which is hazardous to small pets and young children, and the T12 bulbs are even more dangerous. The potential harm, even though it is small, wasn't worth the bother switching from incandescent bulbs, as far as I'm concerned, and continuing to support CFLs like the government is will just keep LEDs from coming down in price sooner.
But that's the problem. The govt. bans 100W, now 60 and 40, but the only cost effective replacement is CFLs. They boxed themselves into a corner.

Fortunately, in a few years, this will go away as LEDs finally mature and costs become very affordable.
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Old 01-13-2014, 01:37 PM   #9
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Yes, and I'll probably be replacing ballasts when it happens. I only have a few of these. I think a lot of commercial people have gotten the word. Our church sexton has been working on this for a few years now, slowly replacing the ballasts and connectors. He was pretty worked up over this because as you mention, it was originally 2012. But that's the problem. The govt. bans 100W, now 60 and 40, but the only cost effective replacement is CFLs. They boxed themselves into a corner. Fortunately, in a few years, this will go away as LEDs finally mature and costs become very affordable.
So do you have to replace the ballasts or not? I have these down in my finished basement. I have yet to have to change them yet and they are going on ten years. I'll probably just buy a few boxes of them now so I don't have to worry about it for 30-40 years. They can sit next to my 20 year supply of 60w incandescent that I need for my dimmers.
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:25 PM   #10
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If you like incandescents (and sending money to your utility company), they're still available, just more efficient. The equivalent lumen output just requires fewer watts now, so instead of a 100W bulb, you're using a 72W bulb, etc. I'm a fan of new technology, so the 100+ year old incandescent bulb doesn't interest me, but I'm quite sure they are out there, because I enjoy perusing the selection of light bulbs at Home Depot.

Light bulbs and eggs used to require so little thought -- 100W, 60W, 40W, brown or white. Now you have to stand at the display and study a vast array of choices.
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Old 01-13-2014, 05:43 PM   #11
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I found I could replace shoplight type hanging fixtures more cheaply than ballasts. Granted, I was buying cheap fixtures...
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Old 01-13-2014, 05:52 PM   #12
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I found I could replace shoplight type hanging fixtures more cheaply than ballasts. Granted, I was buying cheap fixtures...
I am not a fix it guy and anything I do would become a weeks long worth of cursing and throwing things until I finally get it, as I am too cheap to pay someone else to do it. Stocking up on the current long bulbs is what I am going to do. I do not turn those lights on much anyways, and I will still sleep well knowing my personal carbon footprint is a 1000 times less than Mr. Gore's is despite me using these terrible things. Besides, it isn't like I special ordered them. If I don't buy them someone else will.
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Old 01-13-2014, 06:21 PM   #13
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I like LEDs and would be willing to pay for the, but the cheap ones DW bought last year are not ready for prime time. Dim, blue light does not do it for me especially after having had planted aquariums in the past and knowing what fluorescents can be. Have to do a bit of shopping and research before I buy the next lot for the basement (my office/the bar).
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Old 01-13-2014, 06:36 PM   #14
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The $10 60W-equivalent LED I just bought puts out light just like incandescent bulbs to me. The 40W-equivalent was only $6. Some of the higher power ones are still very pricey. I had to think twice, no 3 times, before gritting my teeth for $10.
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Old 01-13-2014, 06:44 PM   #15
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Wow, thanks for posting!. I better stock up. I have 6 - 8' T12 High output in the attached garage and 4 more in my workshop. I've never had a bulb burn out in 10 years.
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Old 01-13-2014, 09:16 PM   #16
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I like LEDs and would be willing to pay for the, but the cheap ones DW bought last year are not ready for prime time. Dim, blue light does not do it for me especially after having had planted aquariums in the past and knowing what fluorescents can be. Have to do a bit of shopping and research before I buy the next lot for the basement (my office/the bar).
You have to look at the "color temperature" on the bulb. "Soft white" is a temperature of 2700K is the color of most North American incandescent bulbs. A "bright white" bulb has a temperature of 3000K and is a bit bluer than a GE Reveal (2950K) or a European incandescent bulb. All bulbs also usually list a "lumen" rating somewhere, although it can be hard to find. The Cree can retrofits use 9.5W and are supposed to put out as much light as a 65W flood, but to my eye they are closer to a 75W. Home Depot now has a newer, slightly brighter version than I have. All bulbs get dimmer with age (me too).

The main flaw with LED is that the light is very directional which is why I like the Cree bulbs. They seem to have the best diffusion. LEDs won't flicker like a fluorescent with a bad ballast.
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Old 01-13-2014, 10:18 PM   #17
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You have to look at the "color temperature" on the bulb. "Soft white" is a temperature of 2700K is the color of most North American incandescent bulbs. A "bright white" bulb has a temperature of 3000K and is a bit bluer than a GE Reveal (2950K) or a European incandescent bulb. All bulbs also usually list a "lumen" rating somewhere, although it can be hard to find. The Cree can retrofits use 9.5W and are supposed to put out as much light as a 65W flood, but to my eye they are closer to a 75W. Home Depot now has a newer, slightly brighter version than I have. All bulbs get dimmer with age (me too).

The main flaw with LED is that the light is very directional which is why I like the Cree bulbs. They seem to have the best diffusion. LEDs won't flicker like a fluorescent with a bad ballast.
I like bulbs around 5000K, which is roughly equal to daylight. I have yet to do the research, but no doubt LEDs can be had like that. Its just a question of cost.
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Old 01-13-2014, 10:50 PM   #18
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I like bulbs around 5000K, which is roughly equal to daylight. I have yet to do the research, but no doubt LEDs can be had like that. Its just a question of cost.
Yep. HD carries all three colors. Bulbs.com and other on-line sources have them in various lumens and bases. The price has dropped like a rock over the past year, too. I have three pendant lights over my island, each pulling 2.5W and just as bright as you could want.
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Old 01-13-2014, 11:49 PM   #19
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The older T12s and the newer T8s have the same pin spacing on the ends, and I've had no trouble using the T8 tubes in place of the T12s in my shop lights and overhead "troffers" (all 48"). The T8s have lower wattages but the light output is close to the same. Do the T8s really require different ballasts?
I believe that T12 and T8 tubes have different operating current requirements. Something like 430 ma. for T12, a lot less for T8. I can't find it online anywhere so far. The lamp operating current used to be listed in product descriptions, but they seem to have dumbed-down the info now. I can find the line currents for 120 v operated ballasts, but that isn't relevant to the actual lamp current.

Arc-discharge tubes exhibit negative resistance once the arc is struck. Ballast is really an old word, from the days of simple series inductors to limit lamp current in manual-start fixtures (remember pulling a pull-chain, and holding it for the light to start, or pressing in a start button till the lamp glowed, then releasing it?).

Today's "ballast" is really a current-limiting transformer ("magnetic" ballast) or a solid-state constant-current source. Solid-state designs have the advantage of using switching power supply technology, running in the 10s of kilohertz range where transformers and inductors are small compared to 60 Hz. iron.
A new Advance ballast I installed recently was 1/2 the width of the previous ballast, in fact it was only that large so it could be retrofitted into existing fixtures and fit under the tab at one end, and over the stud at the other end.

I would expect that running a T8 tube on a T12 ballast will shorten the life of the tube and/or shorten the life of the ballast.

Also, I wonder if a T8 in a T12 fixture will have trouble starting over time, or at low temperatures. The common T12 RS (Rapid-Start) tubes ballasts say the lamps are to be installed within 1/2" of a grounded reflector. This is to allow the initial glow discharge to propagate from the cathodes down the tube to initiate the arc.
A typical T12 lamp holder (socket) holds the tube's bi-pins 1 1/8" off of the reflector metal. With a T12 tube's radius of 3/4", that leaves 1 1/8" - 3/4" = 3/8" spacing from the tube's surface to the grounded reflector, within the 1/2" max spec.
Doing the math again, but with a T8 tube in the same lamp holder = 1 1/8" - 1/2" = 5/8" spacing off of the grounded reflector. So I would expect that starting may be on the edge there over all possible conditions.

I'll keep looking to see if I can find lamp currents.

The July 2014 rule for fluorescent lamps in the warm-white to cool white color temp. range is 89 Lumens per Watt minimum for the warm-white, 88 L/W for the cool white range. A typical warm-white that I am using is 2900 Lumens, 40w, which is ~73 L/W. So for all of this brou-ha-ha, we are not talking about some giant leap in efficiency. Absolutely nothing like CFL versus incandescent.
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Old 01-14-2014, 04:19 AM   #20
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But that's the problem. The govt. bans 100W, now 60 and 40, but the only cost effective replacement is CFLs.
That's only because they didn't ban CFLs as well. If LEDs were the only choice, then they would have come down in price sooner.
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