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Thread: favorite t12 48" full spectrum tubes?

  1. #1

    Default favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    what is everyones favorite t12 48" full spectrum bulb? chroma50 etc. i saw one with a cri of 98 but it was very expensive and at 3000k. so even though the cri is 98 i think at 3000k it might not be the most natural bulb.
    the fish bulbs look great but at $40 a tube i think they are too expensive.


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  2. #2
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    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    I have T12 GE chroma50s and T8 Paralite Maxum 5000s. Although both are 5000K, the GEs seem to have a slightly lower color temp and also render reds a little better. At $5.99 per tube locally they compare favorable to other full-spectrum tubes which frequently run over $15. I haven't compared enough full spectrum tubes to develop an opinion one way or another as to which is the best.

    Philips makes a T-8 5000K tube with a CRI of 98, although it only puts out around 2000 lumens versus 2900 or so for a normal T-8 full spectrum tube. As an aside, anything 3000K is not considered full spectrum. The definition loosely means a color temp of 5000K to 6000K with a CRI of 90 or greater. The 3000K 98CRI tube you mentioned is probably meant to blend in with halogen lighting, which isn't exactly the most natural type of light compared to either sunlight or full-spectrum fluorescent tubes.

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* Zelandeth's Avatar
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    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    Hmm, sounds like you need one of these, albeit in a diffferent size...

    Macbeth 5000 True daylight lamp

  4. #4

    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    sylvania or philips make a 5000k 98 cri t12f40.
    i have had bad luck with half-life of the chroma50's. they get black bands and dim a lot after about 1000 hours. and they claim to last 15,000 hours as i remember. i wouldn't want them after 15,000 hours thats for sure.

    since no fluor tube really is usable any near it's rated life do you guys think that a cri of 98 is so much better than a cri of 91? because the chroma50's are $6 and the philips are like $20. the fish store ones are great but theya re $40. i have a lot of these fixtures in my shop so it adds up big time. i'd rather spend it on another surefire.

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    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    What type of light do you have the chroma50s in? Is it a shoplight with a magnetic ballast? I've heard certain brands of shoplights, notably Lights of America, cause tubes to get only a fraction of their rated life. Last year I replaced the magnetic ballast in two of my older shoplights (purchased c. 1983) with new electronic ones from Home Depot. Besides eliminating 60Hz flicker, they should be easier on the tubes than the older magnetic ballasts were (although my old ballasts were apparently fairly high quality). No noticeable dimming of my chroma50s yet, although the electronic ballasts seem to make the color temp of the tubes a few hundred K warmer. This isn't a color shift due to age as the tubes appear the same color as when new on a regular magnetic ballast.

    Regarding the difference between a CRI of 98 versus 91, I'm not sure if most people would be able to tell the difference. The only way to know is to try a pair side by side and see if the CRI 98 tubes appear better to you.

    For both greater variety of tubes and also greater efficiency, along with the advantages of an electronic ballast, T-8 tubes are the best way to go. This is what I've been doing lately. T-12 is just antiquated technology, and as a bonus T-8 tubes require less space to store. The big three (Philips, GE, Sylvania) all make 5000K T-8 tubes with a CRI of 86. While obviously not as good as a CRI of 90 or more, these tubes are all very cheap in bulk (~ $2 or less), which makes them a good choice if you have a lot of fixtures and don't want to spend $6 and up per tube. I highly doubt the majority of people can tell the difference between a CRI of 86 and 91 anyway. For those color critical applications, at least Philips makes a T-8 tube with a CRI of 98, albeit at reduced efficiency.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic* snakebite's Avatar
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    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    the vita lite tubes are a 6 phosphor blend and seem to be the best replacement for sunlight.
    i use them where color rendering is critical like taking pics,reading color codes ect.
    unfortunatly they are no longer being made and i grab them when i see them cheap on ebay or on closeout at mom and pop pet stores.
    the ge chroma50 is next best.
    as for the report of early blackening you likely have a defective or cheap ballast.

  7. #7

    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    i have very high quality rapid start electronic ballasts. these are not cheap shop lights. i thought however that the tube starters where actually much easier on tubes than electronic ballasts?
    a couple of my ballasts are probably going bad though. hence the black bands. i thought it was the consensus that t12f40 tubes loose about half their lumens after like only 400 hours?

    i could swear i knew of a majer company marketing t12 bulbs at menards with a cri of 98 about 2 years ago. i will stop by menards today if i go that way and report back what they were. i was looking on the web and cannot find these. i find rare speciality bulbs like this but none at large chain stores at the moment.

    nitebrite.

  8. #8

    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    [ QUOTE ]
    nitebrite said:
    ... i thought however that the tube starters where actually much easier on tubes than electronic ballasts?
    ...
    nitebrite.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    The terminology thats used is likely whats confusing you. Starters are the hardest on lamp life with one execption. A kind I can't find anymore called "fluorescent instant lamp starter" (will post a picture if anyone cares). These look identical except for a reset button recessed into the top. Next, in terms of short lamp life, comes the ballast called "instant start". These do not preheat the filaments, but just use high voltage to "blast" the electrons (you'll find the two pins tied together at the socket, these are also the ballast for single pin bulbs). The standard rapid start which heat the filaments and applies a voltage (not as high as instant start) at the same time. There was an older one called a trigger start which I've seen different descriptions of operation on. And one new one which is the best and may have different names such as programmed rapid start. These ramp up the filaments over about a 1/2 second period and then apply the higher voltage. The only main advantage to the other styles when done in electronic form is no flicker and more effiency. These programmed ones are the best because bulb life may be 50% or more over the rated and you don't have to worry about shortening the life of the bulb every time you turn if off and on. Ballast should have only a small affect CRI nor color temperature.

    Edit: change my statement about ballast affect on CRI and color temperature.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    [ QUOTE ]
    gwbaltzell said:
    Ballast should not affect CRI nor color temperature.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    This article indicates that waveform shape and frequency can indeed influence color temperature of discharge lamps. At the very least it explains why my chroma50s look slightly warmer on some electronic ballasts as opposed to magnetic ballasts.

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    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    [ QUOTE ]
    nitebrite said:
    a couple of my ballasts are probably going bad though. hence the black bands. i thought it was the consensus that t12f40 tubes loose about half their lumens after like only 400 hours?


    [/ QUOTE ]

    Actually, most T12 tubes loose only about 30% of their lumens at the end of their rated life. The black bands are likely caused by either ballasts starting to go bad or perhaps too many interruptions in the AC power (and hence too many starts). I looked at my chroma50s today and they have a slight blackening at one end but nothing that affects lamp output. This may have been due to the fact that they were on magnetic ballasts for the first few months I had them.

  11. #11

    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    [ QUOTE ]
    jtr1962 said:
    [ QUOTE ]
    gwbaltzell said:
    Ballast should not affect CRI nor color temperature.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    This article indicates that waveform shape and frequency can indeed influence color temperature of discharge lamps. At the very least it explains why my chroma50s look slightly warmer on some electronic ballasts as opposed to magnetic ballasts.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Thanks, I hadn't seen this. However, it is discussing cold cathode tubes with a mercury-neon mixture, were, to my knowledge, preheats are a mercury-argon mixture. It is possible that either might have a different an emissive state that could be triggered by the way the energy is delivered.

    There is this study (.pdf) done at Lawrence Livermore that finds a large number of lines in both neon and argon that haven't been seen before.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    Very interesting article. Apparently the understanding of quantum states is not as complete as previously thought. Until I read the article I linked to earlier I was under the impression that discharge lamp spectra were controlled entirely by thoroughly understood quantum mechanical principles. Now it seems that understanding is less than perfect, or perhaps other factors not related to quantum machanics are at work here. Still, discharge lamp spectra varies far less with power input and waveform than does incandescent lamp spectra. Although difficult to estimate exactly, when I say my chroma50s are "warmer" on some electronic ballasts, it is by maybe 100K or so. It's not as if they look like warm white tubes when run on electronic ballasts. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

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    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    [ QUOTE ]
    jtr1962 said:

    This article indicates that waveform shape and frequency can indeed influence color temperature of discharge lamps. At the very least it explains why my chroma50s look slightly warmer on some electronic ballasts as opposed to magnetic ballasts.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Intertesting article, but it doesn't say that it pertains to ordinary T8 lamps - It seems to be referring to cold cathode lamps with a Neon/Mercury mixture.

  14. #14

    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    I never think of quantum mechanics being well understood.

    At least I don't understand it well! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

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    Flashaholic* snakebite's Avatar
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    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    frequency does affect standard tubes color temp.
    i noticed the shift when testing homebrew 12v ballasts i built.the difference was only slight maybe a few hundred k but noticeable.

  16. #16

    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    sorry to have skipped out on you guys. i forgot about this post. anyways my ballasts do not have starter tubes and say "rapid start t12 solid state". the black bands are actually light black, do not make it around the whole tube,occur only at one end of the affected tubes and happened to only 4 of my 32 tubes. i originally started them a lot. now i just leave them on 24/7. that's better right?

    as for menards, they have verilux now. 6200k. 94.5 cri. depending who you ask the chroma's are rated 90 to 92 cri. the verilux is a better tube in my opinion but not better to the tune of three times the price of the c50.

    i am not going to replace the c50's that are running fine to get 3 more cri at a higher kelvin. if i could get up to 98 cri in a t12 i'd do it. also, i did not mean that the output of tubes diminish in short order, i meant the color match accuracy does. the phosphers fizzle out for lack of better terminology. the saltwater fish guys(of which i am one) replace these tubes every 3-6 months if they are fanatic about the beauty of their fish. also i think paint facilities and such replace these way before their output is affected. i am not this fanatical about it. however all of us around here like the snazziest stuff. very few of us NEED surefires so in the same fashion i like the better tubes for bragging rights so to speak. i guess i should just switch to t8? the problem with t8 is the output. i'd need a ton of them. anyways, fluorescent tubes are no match for good incans,halos or xenon or especially led. why doesnt some comapny make something like a sf l5 in a ceiling can? that would be awesum! it would be worth the money because the bulb would probably last on the order of 6-8 years!


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  17. #17
    Flashaholic* snakebite's Avatar
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    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    for critical apps you change the tubes often.
    since they use a blend of phosphors some colors wear out early.so the spectrum shifts.
    unless you are doing something critical dont worry about it.
    i change the reptile tubes in my boa cages every 6 months because the uvb phosphor wears out.
    i use the pulls in other fixtures since they are decent full spectrums with a special glass and a uvb(low levels)phosphor.
    and t8 tubes are more efficiant.
    lots of 4' office lights use 3 t8's to get the same light as 4 t12's.

  18. #18

    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    i finally found the tube i was speaking of. it is a philips colortone 75. t12 7500k 95 cri $10. is 7500k bad for general office lighting? the philips colortone 50 has 92 cri at 5000k.


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  19. #19

    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    My opion is normally nothing "cooler" than 5000K and I tend to favor 4000K. The only use I can think of for 7500K would be an artist wanting to achive a very warm color in paintings, I think the main reason they prefer a northern exposure. Or growing coral in a saltwater tank. Also remember CRI can not be compared among different CCTs (color temp.).

  20. #20

    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    i decided to buy one of the verilux tubes today. i figured i'd get one for my aquarium or python to try it first. gee it was awful! totally green. so much for all their bragging on the package. snakebite if you are still reading this thread, when purchasing tubes for use with animals do i need to make sure they do not emit uvb/uva? or are all the full spectrum bulbs safe even if they do not say reptile or aquarium on them?
    i only have found one aquarium tube i like besides metal halide. it is the ge aquarays. it is comparitivly cheap. i do not like coral-life, penn plax, hagen etc. any good ones anyone can recomend? as far as the office lights i find the chroma50's to be best so far. there are ones with a few higher cri but they are over 5000k and i don't really care for them. either too green or too blue. in the aquarium however, i like it a little blue. but not green. for the python i like as white as possible since she is albino.


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    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    I'm using a GE Sunshine (Actually a Chroma 50) tube for general lighting in my bedroom. It's a 24" flourescent tube but when placed in the right spot on the ceiling, it lights up the entire room. I used to have to turn on 2 lamps with 100watt incadescent bulbs in it to get enough light before I mounted my flourescent lamp.
    Anyway, in my opinion, the light from this tube seems to be white with some light blue tint. It is also hard to tell the difference when the light is on during an overcast day as the color temperture of sunlight is very similar.
    I've considered using other brands of full spectrum tubes like OTT-LITE but haven't found a good place to purchase them yet.
    As for the fixture, it's an old plastic 24" undercabinet light that originally had a magnetic pre-heat ballast and a built in starter. Recently, I hacksawed a cheap chinese-made 20watt CFL and removed the electronic ballast circuit board to put in the fixture. I actually noticed slight increase in light output after I did this mod and of course, it doesen't flash a few times before comming on anymore like it did with the old starter. Just instant on.

  22. #22
    Flashaholic* snakebite's Avatar
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    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    i have been told that boas and pythons dont need uvb.
    but when i installed reptile tubes that give low level uvb i noticed my boas would stretch out under it and get as close as they can.
    i switched it to a standard cool white and i never see them get under it.
    i put the reptile tubes back and almost immediatly they were under it again.
    not sure if they need uvb but they seem to like it.

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    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    [ QUOTE ]
    yuandrew said:
    I'm using a GE Sunshine (Actually a Chroma 50) tube for general lighting in my bedroom. It's a 24" flourescent tube but when placed in the right spot on the ceiling, it lights up the entire room. I used to have to turn on 2 lamps with 100watt incadescent bulbs in it to get enough light before I mounted my flourescent lamp.


    [/ QUOTE ]
    This is interesting in that it shows that lamp placement and color temperature is as important as lumens. Two 100 watt bulbs put out about 3400 lumens total not accounting for any light absorbed by shades or diffusers. One 20W Chroma50 tube is rated at 875 lumens but since it's probably overdriven on the electronic ballast let's say it puts out 1100 lumens. Still a discrepancy of 3:1 but a light on the ceiling puts most of it's light directly to the area below while table lamps rely quite a bit on light reflected from walls or ceilings. Second, lumen for lumen a higher color temperature light has a higher apparent brightness. Indeed, a 1000 lumen 5000K light source appears as bright as a 1500 or 1600 lumen 2700K light source (typical for a light bulb). This is why it makes sense (to me anyway) that your room seems as bright with a single overdriven 20W as it does with 2 100 watt incandescent bulbs.

    Yes, the chroma50's have a slight blue tint to them but blend in almost perfectly with daylight. I also prefer high color temperature lighting for all my general lighting needs, even in areas where it isn't traditionally used, such as bedrooms and living rooms. As my eyeballs are calibrated for sunlight, it only makes sense that artificial lighting should be as close to sunlight as possible. However, I do prefer higher lighting levels than a 20W tube. My bedroom's main light source is a 4X32W T-8 fixture putting out about 10,000 lumens. I use Paralite Maxum 5000 tubes (CCT=5000K, CRI=91). I also have two 28W 5000K CFLs for when I desire lower lighting levels.

    As an aside, I think it's pointless to run expensive full-spectrum tubes on magnetic ballasts due to the annoying 60Hz flicker. However, on flicker-free electronic ballasts the tubes come very close to duplicating natural sunlight.

  24. #24

    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    just an update on all the tubes i have tried. i have found that the expensive very high cri tubes are at either very low or very high kelvin temps. therefore my overall favorite is genuine ge chroma-50. very good representation for daylight. great for s.a.d. maybe not the very best color representation, but the best natural light representation at noon. keep in mind that the sun does not render colors as good as some of these tubes claim to. so actually they are unatural and artificial looking. for the kitchen i like, what else! ge kitchen and bath. these have very low cri since they are specificaly designed to exagerate reds and yellows. they do not flood the room with a yellow tint as many expensive reptile tubes that i can't stand do. they do however ecentuate the colors and make my 2-bit kitchen seem like one in better homes and gardens!
    as for reptile bulbs i just love the ge frsesh AND saltwater aquarays. the freshwater only tube is not nearly as good as the combo one. again these have very low cri as they totally hype the blue spectrum. keep in mind that are beloved sf led's are completely blue and we drool over how white they are. so this bulb is awesome for animals and fish. the very expensive reptile tubes(i tried all of them) tend to all hype the yellow or red spectrum and claim to have 98 cri. hyping the blue imho in a animal cage is way nicer i think. also i have found that magnetic and starter tube ballasts provide much warmer color tone then t8 electronics i have. the electronic ones seem to add noise and flicker super fast. i have heard this is only noticable to like 1% of the population. i can see it and prefer old fashioned ballasts even though they may be harsher on bulb life. may favorite ballast? ge!

    ok, this is not spam. i swear i have no financial intrest in ge. it just so happens that imho ge has some incredible lighting products on the market. i am NOT pushing ge on anyone. i am merely conveying my personal preferance.
    i hope this imformation is helpfull to someone since i spent over $140 on testers to come to this conclusion. with no compensation, nor did i ask for any. it just so happens that it is all ge lighting that impressed me. trust me if it was sylvania or philips or whatever i would have said so. of course ymmv.

    edit: i just noticed most of your sentiments about ballasts were the exact oposite of mine. i.e. electonicsa are warmer, and do not flicker as opposed to magnetics. just goes to show like i said ymmv. i think it just boils down to personal preferance. however i have noticed that the very high cri bulbs which are usually at high kelvin or low kelvin as opposed to 5000k are actually very unatural. we all seem to agree that the c50's are very close to daylight and only 90-92 cri depending on what literature you happen to be reading. hmm....


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  25. #25
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    Default Re: favorite t12 48\" full spectrum tubes?

    Isn't the term "full spectrum" just a bit of marketing hype? What, exactly does it really mean? Manufacturers might have us guess that it implied a continuous spectrum, with energy throughout the visible range, but the spectral power distribution (SPD) of ANY fluorescent I've looked at it quite discontinuous and spikey - nothing at all like the relatively smooth blackbody SPD of the sun, or, for that matter an incandescent lamp. Some might argue that it means that the lamp has a CCT similar to sunlight, but at what time of day? The hours around sunrise and sunset provide sunlight with a CCT of less than 3000K.

    I guess the point I'm trying to make is that even the best "full spectrum" lamps have SPDs that look nothing like natural daylight. If you compare numbers, sure, the CRI and CCT can make the lamp look like it's really close to daylight, but (call me skeptical) I'm not convinced.

  26. #26
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    Default Mixing different tubes

    An old trick for using cheap fluorescent tubes was to mix cool white and warm white in equal numbers. The combination of horrid greenish cast and sickening pink was far superior to either on it's own.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Mixing different tubes

    I still mix deluxe cool and warm if I can't find good tubes in the right wattage.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Mixing different tubes

    Sure, if a 4100K cool white is too blue, and a 3000K warm white is too pink, you can blend them, but the resulting spectrum still suffers from the spikes and valleys that the individual tubes had. The basic problem is that fluorescent tube designers only have a very limited 'pallette' of phosphor colors from which to choose. It's the physics of flourescence that dictate the emitted wavelengths, and there are only a limited number of chemicals that are suitable. The various color temps are just slightly different blends of the same phosphors. It may be a little counter-intuitive, but I think the best way to get a true full spectrum that approximates sunlight is to use an incandescent with a blueish filter to remove some excess orange light. (Of course the efficacy will be pretty poor...)

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