Flourescent Tube Lamp – Save Money With a Retrofit Tube

Florescent Tube lamp, is there a more efficient retrofit alternative?

In any commercial organisation such as a large office, warehouse or retail store, about 40% of its electricity bill will come from its lighting usage. Most of these organisations will use lots of Fluorescent Tube Lamps as they have always been seen as an efficient source of light. But is this still the case? Is there a credible retrofit alternative?

This article is looks at what options you have for retrofitting a standard T8 Fluorescent Tube Lamp without replacing the existing Fluorescent Fitting. I am going to explore your options specifically with a 5ft T8 Fluorescent Tube Lamp. This size has the widest usage and is often used for long periods of time in warehouses, car parks, back of house areas etc.

So you have a Fluorescent Tube Lamp and want to look at what options you have for replacing this with a retrofit product. The main reason you would want to do this is has to be to reduce your running or electricity costs. You do not want to replace the existing fitting as this will be expensive to purchase and to install and you want to maintain your illumination levels. Quite simply you would like to take out a Fluorescent Tube Lamp and drop in a retrofit product. Can you do this? Well the short answer is yes but with a little tinkering or modification.

The 4 main options you have are as follows:

1: Replace a standard T8 Fluorescent Tube Lamp with a Tri Phosphor version.

2: Replace a standard T8 Fluorescent Tube Lamp with an LED Tube

3: Replace a standard T8 Fluorescent Tube Lamp with a T5 version using adapters

4: Replace a standard Fluorescent Tube Lamp with a HT8 Tube

A standard 5ft 58w T8 Fluorescent Tube will use between 65w and 75w depending upon what type of control gear is used in the Fluorescent Fitting.

Each option explained:

1:Replace a standard T8 Fluorescent Tube Lamp with a Tri Phosphor version.

This is probably the easiest option and if you replacing a standard Halo Phosphor 5ft 65w T8 Tube. You would replace this with a 5ft 58w Tri Phosphor version. You save 7w of electricity, you get more light and the tube life goes up from around 8,000 hours to 12,000 hours (maybe more).

2: Replace a standard T8 Fluorescent Tube Lamp with an LED Tube

If you have a Switch Start or magnetic ballast fitting (one that has a starter switch) you can remove the starter, drop in the new LED Tube and it will work. The LED Tube uses about 25w when used in conjunction with the existing control gear. This way you save at least 40w of electricity.

If you have an Electronic or High Frequency ballast fitting (one that does not have a starter switch) then you will need to bypass the ballast / control gear. The LED Tube will work off mains electricity and you will need to provide live power to one set of lamp holders and a neutral feed to the opposite set of lamp holders. This will obvious incur some additional labour cost. You save some more wattage as you are not using the existing ballast which does draw power. The LED Tube on its own uses 20w so you now save between 45w and 55w of electricity.

The light output will be about 85% of a Tri Phosphor Tube. So that’s 15% less light but you probably would not notice the difference. The life span of an LED Tube is around 50,000 hours. The cost to a client for a 5ft LED Tube will be around £50.00 each but obviously this will come down with quantity and depend on the quality of the LED Tube.

3: Replace a standard T8 Fluorescent Tube Lamp with a T5 version using adapters

You can now buy a set of adaptors that enable you to use a slimmer T5 Fluorescent Tube in an existing fluorescent fitting. A T5 Fluorescent Tube is not only slimmer; it has different size end pins but it is also shorter than a conventional T8 Tube. A T5 Tube will typically be 1449mm in length and a T8 Tube is 1500mm. So you need adaptors to make a T5 Tube work in a T8 Fluorescent Fitting. Also, there are various types of T5 Tubes. High (light) output (80w) or High (low wattage) Efficiency (35w).

Installation is similar to the fitting of an LED Tube where you have to remove the starter or bypass the ballast for the new T5 Tube to work with the adaptors. Again if you leave the ballast in, you typically burn an extra 7w from the control gear.

The cost of the adaptors is about £15.00 to the client and the T5 Tube about £4.00. If you choose the High Efficiency T5 Tube, you will save between 25w and 35w of electricity. A High efficiency T5 Tube will give about the same level of luminance as that of a conventional T8 Fluorescent Tube and should last for around 20,000 hours. If your installation was in a food factory then you should not use the T5 Tube with adaptors unless you had a special sleeve to protect any fallout from a possible breakage of the Tube.

4: Replace a standard Fluorescent Tube Lamp with a HT8 Tube

The new HT8 Tube is manufactured by Hyperion and distributed in the UK by Titan Distribution. This new tube uses enhanced T5 technology encased in a conventional T8 size tube.

The new HT8 as a 5ft version uses 33w, emits the same level of luminance as a conventional T8 Fluorescent Tube and has a life span of 40,000 hours

Installation is similar to the fitting of an LED Tube where you have to remove the starter or bypass the ballast for the new HT8Tube to work. Again if you leave the ballast in, you typically burn an extra 7w from the control gear. The cost of the HT 8 Tube to the end client will be about £29.90.

Conclusion

A normal T8 58w Fluorescent Tube Lamp will use 65w of electricity with the existing control gear and last about 8,000 hours. Using an LED Tube would consume 25w and last 50,000 hours, a T5 Tube with adaptors 35w and last 20,000 hours and a HT8 40w with a lifespan of 40,000 hours.

It is obvious that you can therefore reduce your electricity consumption, reduce maintenance periods and maintain your existing light levels by switching over to one of the alternatives. But which one is best?

If you want to consider a financial or pay back basis then this can be worked out as a mathematical formula. I have designed a simple cost of ownership calculator where you drop in the wattage used, amount of time the Fluorescent Tube Lamp is lit for and the costs of the Tubes / Adaptors and you can easily make an informed judgement as to which alternative will be the best option for you.

The result will obviously depend upon how long the tube is lit for. In all cases the HT8 tube provides the shortest payback period closely. The HT8 provides the same level of light whereas the LED Tube is about 15% less bright. The HT8 is less expensive than the LED version so your initial of capital costs will be much lower. The HT8 is a little more expensive than a T5 tube with adaptors but lasts twice as long, will be easier to install and provide more light. The HT8 is also suitable for use in food areas.

A 5ft 58 T8 Fluorescent Tube using Switch Start control gear, with an annual usage of 5,000 hours at with a cost of £0.11p per KwHr will cost £35.75 to run. The HT8 will cost £22.00 a year. Taking into account the initial cost, you would expect a Payback in 25 months.

I am happy to let you have a copy of the full comparison chart upon request.

Disclaimer: This article is published in good faith. There are a wide range of Fluorescent Tubes in both T8 and T5 versions. There are also wide ranges of LED Tubes. This article has been put together as a guide only and deals with what I feel to be the most common types of Fluorescent and LED Tubes.