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Fluorescent Magnetic T12 Ballast Phaseout: It’s Time to Upgrade Existing Lighting and Control Systems

The time is here to upgrade your facility – Here’s an informative article written by Craig DiLouie from the Lighting Controls Association.

Last month, we covered regulations involving fluorescent ballasts that have essentially eliminated the magnetic T12 ballast with few exceptions, including F40T12, F96T12 and F96T12HO ballasts for both full-wattage and energy-saving versions of these lamps.

In 2012, additional regulations will take effect, creating new energy standards for selected linear T5, T8 and T12 lamps. The net result, with few exceptions, is a majority of 4-ft. linear and 2-ft. U-shaped T12, many 8-ft. T12 and T12HO, and some low-color-rendering 4-ft. T8 lamps will be eliminated.

Based on these facts, one could make a simple argument that it is now time to upgrade existing lighting and control systems to improve energy efficiency and lighting quality.

Replace individually or in a planned upgrade?

A basic choice will be whether to replace the existing T12 lighting system all at once in a planned upgrade or replace individual components as they fail.

At first glance, replacing individual components as they fail appears to be the easiest path forward as it avoids the upfront cost of equipment and installation labor and potential disruption of a renovation.

However, a planned upgrade presents several major advantages:

  • Good lighting performance, uniformity and space appearance by switching from T12 to T8 all at once, avoiding confusion resulting from maintaining two incompatibility lamp and ballast types in inventory.
  • Higher energy savings and greater lighting quality resulting from reevaluating the existing lighting system and upgrading it to current best practices. Once a decision is made to upgrade the lighting system, the owner has taken control of the situation and can maximize the benefit of the new lighting.
  • The biggest energy-saving and lighting quality opportunities are in:

  • Older, overlighted buildings that use older technologies such as T12 systems
  • Where utility costs are very high
  • Where lighting is uncontrolled and left ON all night
  • T12 systems, for example, can be upgraded to realize energy savings as high as 50% or more in offices, classrooms and other applications, according to the National Lighting Bureau.

    Retrofit or redesign?

    The next basic choice facing the facility manager is whether to retrofit or redesign. In a retrofit, new lamps and ballasts are installed in existing fixtures and existing controls replaced. In a redesign, the fixtures themselves may be replaced or moved.

    Good lighting quality accounts for factors such as visual comfort, glare, uniformity, color rendering, lighting on walls and ceilings, and harsh patterns, shadows and flicker. If the building’s primary spaces have been retasked to new purposes for which the existing lighting system provides insufficient lighting conditions, or uniformity is poor, or there is little light on walls and ceilings, or there are obvious, unaddressed sources of glare, and if occupants are unhappy with their lighting, then the space may benefit from a redesign.

    The owner may benefit prior to the upgrade by simply asking occupants—the people who use the lighting regularly—whether they are satisfied with their lighting, what their lighting problems are, and what they want.

    To read the rest of this article, click this link: http://www.aboutlightingcontrols.org/education/papers/2010/2010_lighting-upgrades.shtml

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