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Thread: Is it practical to upgrade a T12 fluorescent to T8 in a fixture you still like?

  1. #1
    Enlightened
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    Default Is it practical to upgrade a T12 fluorescent to T8 in a fixture you still like?

    It looks like the ballasts are beginning to fail for our double pair 48" T12
    fluorescent fixture in our almost 30 year old bathroom.We still like the looks of the fixture and are considering switching to T8 tubes and up grading to appropriate electronic ballasts.

    Are we crazy to consider upgrading the ballasts rather than going for a new installation?

    If we're not crazy, any suggestions on specific electronic ballasts for the job?

    Thanks for any informed replies!

    Hugh

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* JohnR66's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it practical to upgrade a T12 fluorescent to T8 in a fixture you still like?

    You are not at all crazy. Assuming the old ballast was the magnetic type and depending on its ballast factor and bulbs in use, the new electronic ballast for T8 lamps and a new set of T8 lamps can be both brighter and use less energy than the old T12 system.

    Most home improvement stores have the ballasts you need and a selection of bulbs in the color temperature you want.
    Last edited by JohnR66; 08-12-2010 at 09:41 AM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Is it practical to upgrade a T12 fluorescent to T8 in a fixture you still like?

    Quote Originally Posted by SciGuy View Post
    It looks like the ballasts are beginning to fail for our double pair 48" T12
    fluorescent fixture in our almost 30 year old bathroom.We still like the looks of the fixture and are considering switching to T8 tubes and up grading to appropriate electronic ballasts.

    Are we crazy to consider upgrading the ballasts rather than going for a new installation?

    If we're not crazy, any suggestions on specific electronic ballasts for the job?

    Thanks for any informed replies!

    Hugh
    Most of the 'cost' of an upgrade is in putting the fixtures in. If time is billed at 60$ an hour and it takes you 15 minutes to remove a fixture, 15 minutes to assemble and install the new fixture- then you have an idea what your cost savings is.

    I've got 4 T12 fixtures leftover from a project- I installed them up in the front of the basement. I'm going to install another 12 fixtures around the back and probably at least 6 more in the garage. (I like light). I'm trying to find a decent T8 fixture that'll do it for me (I'm moving) otherwise I'd be bringing my massive 8' units.

    There is one at Depot, but the reflector is grey and not white. I'm looking into the cost of putting reflective tape / krylon painting it white.

  4. #4
    Flashaholic kingofwylietx's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is it practical to upgrade a T12 fluorescent to T8 in a fixture you still like?

    If you really like the fixture, I see nothing wrong with gutting it and putting in something more efficient. You might be able to put in T5's just as easy. We just converted our warehouse from T12's to T5's. They come on much faster, are more efficient, brighter, make no humming noise, and are not affected by temperature as much.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Is it practical to upgrade a T12 fluorescent to T8 in a fixture you still like?

    Quote Originally Posted by SciGuy View Post
    It looks like the ballasts are beginning to fail for our double pair 48" T12
    fluorescent fixture in our almost 30 year old bathroom.We still like the looks of the fixture and are considering switching to T8 tubes and up grading to appropriate electronic ballasts.

    Are we crazy to consider upgrading the ballasts rather than going for a new installation?

    If we're not crazy, any suggestions on specific electronic ballasts for the job?

    Thanks for any informed replies!

    Hugh
    Get an instant start ballast. I find that avoiding the time delay from rapid start is almost enjoyable. With instant start, you should get end of life (EOF) protection because, otherwise, the bulb ends can get dangerously hot after failure. Your sockets probably weren't designed to tolerate such heat.

    Here is a Sunpark instant start ballast with EOF for 2 T8 32 watt bulbs:

    https://p11.secure.hostingprod.com/@...0f8a80681ee4c2

    Several months ago, they sold 4 bulb ballasts, 120-4/32IS MPF, but no longer. It should be easy enough to install two 2 bulb ballasts. These ballasts are small and light compared to magnetic ballasts. BTW, their shipping and handling fee is relatively high for small orders, but increases only slightly for larger orders.

    Here is a 4 bulb ballast from a different manufacturer:

    http://ballastwise.com/item.asp?PID=31&FID=1&level=0

    but it doesn't have EOF protection. I retrofitted a T12 fixture with their T12 instant start ballast, DXE2M12, and it works great. It successfully lights many T12 bulbs that previously failed with magnetic ballasts. This ballast is almost as heavy as a magnetic ballast.
    Last edited by aruzinsky; 08-10-2010 at 10:44 AM.

  6. #6
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: Is it practical to upgrade a T12 fluorescent to T8 in a fixture you still like?

    Thanks so much for the extremely helpful replies! The specific links are especially helpful.

    I have two of these fixtures to convert so the shipping will be somewhat diluted by that. The rewiring involved appears to be pretty elementary so it looks like we're about to be upgraded.

    Hugh

  7. #7

    Default Re: Is it practical to upgrade a T12 fluorescent to T8 in a fixture you still like?

    I would recommend getting a ballast from one of the Big 3 of ballast manufacturers (GE Lighting, Philips-Advance, or Sylvania). These will probably be of better quality, have a better warranty, and be available locally. Lowes generally carries Philips-Advance ballasts, and Home Depot generally carries GE Lighting.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Is it practical to upgrade a T12 fluorescent to T8 in a fixture you still like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Random Guy View Post
    I would recommend getting a ballast from one of the Big 3 of ballast manufacturers (GE Lighting, Philips-Advance, or Sylvania). These will probably be of better quality, have a better warranty, and be available locally. Lowes generally carries Philips-Advance ballasts, and Home Depot generally carries GE Lighting.
    HD sells a fixture I just bought- 6x of them- and running with ALTO II 5000K bulbs produces a beautiful clean light to work in.

    I made the mistake of buying some ALTO I 5000K bulbs, and while the CRI is higher they dont' seem to burn right- so I think I'll be taking them all back.

    http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1...atalogId=10053

    Lithonia Lighting All Weather 4 Ft. 2 Light T8 Fluorescent Unit Shoplight
    Model # 1242ZG RE Internet # 202052422

  9. #9

    Default Re: Is it practical to upgrade a T12 fluorescent to T8 in a fixture you still like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Random Guy View Post
    I would recommend getting a ballast from one of the Big 3 of ballast manufacturers (GE Lighting, Philips-Advance, or Sylvania). These will probably be of better quality, have a better warranty, and be available locally. Lowes generally carries Philips-Advance ballasts, and Home Depot generally carries GE Lighting.
    Advance instant start ballasts are on sale here:

    http://www.1000bulbs.com/product/379..._Email39_row4C_

    http://www.1000bulbs.com/product/387..._Email39_row4B_

    but they do not have end of life protection.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Is it practical to upgrade a T12 fluorescent to T8 in a fixture you still like?

    Are we crazy to consider upgrading the ballasts rather than going for a new installation?

    Not at all. You switch out the bulbs and ballast, close it up. You're done.


    any suggestions on specific electronic ballasts for the job?

    Mine are all Advance. They last for years.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Is it practical to upgrade a T12 fluorescent to T8 in a fixture you still like?

    Quote Originally Posted by SciGuy View Post
    It looks like the ballasts are beginning to fail for our double pair 48" T12
    fluorescent fixture in our almost 30 year old bathroom.We still like the looks of the fixture and are considering switching to T8 tubes and up grading to appropriate electronic ballasts.

    Are we crazy to consider upgrading the ballasts rather than going for a new installation?

    If we're not crazy, any suggestions on specific electronic ballasts for the job?

    Thanks for any informed replies!

    Hugh
    I would like to hear a progress report.

  12. #12
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: Is it practical to upgrade a T12 fluorescent to T8 in a fixture you still like?

    Quote Originally Posted by aruzinsky View Post
    I would like to hear a progress report.
    My wife is competing in the Hawaii IronMan World Championships on October 9th. The training and other demands have kept us straight out for the last few weeks and look to keep us busy until after the race.

    I will re-post to this thread after we make some real progress.

    Thanks for asking

    Hugh

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