T12 to T8 Retrofits – Do it Now!

The age of efficient fluorescent general illumination is now.  Super-T8 and T5 lighting systems provide a significantly lower usage advantage over older T8 systems and more so over any existing, outdated T12 systems.

Plus, since lighting accounts for 40% or more of a commercial property’s electric utility bill – YOUR utility bill! — one of the easiest ways and most cost-efficient ways to lower electric consumption from lighting is to install more efficient ballasts and lamps.

But, you ask, why incur the cost of upgrading to a T5 or T8 system when your older T8 and/or T12 system is functioning perfectly?  Three reasons:

  • legislation specifically targeting T12 lighting system  replacement,
  • utility rebates and expiring bonuses for T12 retrofits, and
  • long term energy reduction opportunities.

The Department of Energy has passed legislation mandating the phase out of almost all T12 lighting by July of 2012.  This means T12 lamps will no longer be manufactured for sale in the US after that date.   The production of magnetic ballasts, typically used in T12 lighting systems, was already phased out in January of 2010.  In eight short months all replacement parts for your T12 lighting system will be completely antiquated.

The transition to T8 and T5 lighting systems can be a relatively smooth process.  T8 and T5 systems can work in your existing fixture.  Only the existing lamps and ballasts need to be replaced.  However, due to the fact no major renovations are needed many building owners are waiting until the last minute…


Utility lighting incentives and rebates are designed to help offset the initial cost of a T12 to T8 (or T5) upgrade.  The net payback, including a rebate, will average between 1 to 3 years.  Plus, not only do almost all utilities still have T12 to T8 retrofit incentive programs, many have bonus incentives to make the switch today!

Yet, given the impending legislation, utility rebates for this lighting measure will also be phased out, and many very soon.   Utilities provide incentives and rebates to help their commercial customers “buy down” the initial cost of the installation of an energy efficient technology.  Once legislation is enacted which increases the efficiency standards for building systems, state and local energy codes transition existing technologies which have historically been considered “efficient” into their new baseline standard.  Consequently, utilities will typically not incent their customers to purchase and install equipment which is required per the baseline standard of the applicable energy code or building standard in that geography.

So don’t wait.  If you do, your costs will be higher and your payback longer, for something you will have to do someday anyway.

The good news is retrofitting your lighting system while incentive programs (and in many cases bonus programs) are actively seeking these projects will not only improve your ROI.  Plus, doing so will decrease your electric bill sooner so you will reap the benefits of energy savings for a longer period of time from your investment.

Energy savings coupled with a rebate makes aggressively converting T12s to T8s or T5s a very attractive business decision.  You will have a much shorter payback period and your initial cost will be considerably lower with the utility rebate.

If you have questions about the T12 to T8 phase out, call RealWinWin and we’ll do our best to answer them.  We’ll even help out with capturing the rebates, too!



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