What Are T12 Light Fixtures?


Quick Answer

T12 light fixtures are a type of fluorescent lamp that was discontinued in July 2012 in the United States, because they weren't as energy-efficient as newer light fixtures. T12 lights measure 1.5 inches in diameter and are 2 to 8 feet long. They score 62 on the color rendering index and yield 78 lumens per watt. The Department of Energy regulations that phased out the T12 fixtures primarily affected business and industrial lighting consumers.

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Full Answer

After 2012, the more energy-efficient T8 and T5 lights gradually replaced outdated T12 fixtures. The smaller diameter of these newer models contributed to their efficiency and to their higher quality of light output. In early 2012, the government encouraged business and industrial users of T12 fixtures to stock up on the bulbs in preparation for manufacturing to cease. The government also urged consumers to plan on phasing in new, more efficient lighting to replace the obsolete T12s. As the stock of remaining T12 bulbs shrank, they became more expensive and less desirable to consumers.

Manufacturers stopped production on the magnetic T12 ballasts in October 2010 and on the mechanical ballasts in 2014. The shortage of ballasts provided more incentive to businesses to switch to modern lighting. However, some T12-style lighting fixtures continued in production after 2012 due to their higher color rendering index score and their alignment with the Department of Energy's efficiency standards. These surviving T12s, which contain pure rare-earth phosphors, are more expensive than comparable fixtures.

Companies had additional financial incentives for switching from T12s to T8s or T5s, including a limited-time government rebate for T12 lamps. In the long term, businesses could save one-third of their energy costs by switching from T12 fixtures. They could also save money on maintenance with longer-lasting T5 bulbs.

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