Using LED tubes is an easy way to lower your energy costs and still have fabulous lighting in your space. Even so, finding the right fit for your home, office, or other areas can prove challenging. We will cover the most common types of LEDs, enabling you to understand what can work for you. That way, you can avoid buying a tube that just won’t cut it.
Before we get into the classification of LED tubes based on installation, let’s cover sizes. You need to know how each of the tubes differ. For example, when getting type B LED tube bulbs, do you know if you should get a T5, T8 or T12? It’s a good question which you may not have considered.
So, what is a T size? A T is a term of measurement used to indicate the tube diameter. One T equates to an eighth of an inch. Following this, a T5 tube is 5/8 inches, a T8 tube is an inch wide, and a T12 tube is 1.5 inches long. It’s essential to look at the diameter when getting an LED replacement for fluorescent tubes as it influences the energy-saving aspect of your choice.
It’s hard to come across a manufacturer who still stocks T12 bulbs. At around 2013, production came to a slow halt. However, between the 90s and the early 2000s, these bulbs were a hit. At the time, they were at the forefront of energy savings, and people could not imagine there would ever be a better option. But with technology, things change in an instant. T5 and 4 ft t8 LED bulbs came along, promising just as much brightness with lower energy costs.
Buying a T12 tube, while possible, is not the best option. Once you need a new one, you’ll have to scour through pages and pages to find a manufacturer that stocks one. Keep in mind that LED tubes can burn for thousands of hours. It might be ten or twenty years from now before you need a new bulb. In the long term, a T12 bulb can work against you.
However, if your main concern right now is cost, a T12 tube would be ideal. It will cost less than T5 and T8 options.
T5 vs T8
Right now, the main fuss is over these two contenders. We will cover each of the critical areas to consider below. Keep in mind that all the disparities owe to the differences in size as follows:
- Energy Efficiency: Both tubes will be much more energy-efficient compared to their traditional counterparts. After all, LED tubes can help you save as much as 90% on utility bills. However, one of these bulbs is better than the other- the T5! If you’re trying out LED tubes for the first time, you can go with the T5s. They cost more initially but will save you money in the long run. However, if you already have T8s, you can work with these and avoid the costs of changing the light fixtures. Please note that the difference in diameter also influences the bases, and you may have to change the latter.
- Cost: T5s cost more than T8s, and it’s essential to evaluate how and where you will use the tubes. Given that T5s cost about twice as much as T8s, you can choose to work with T8s instead. Why? The cost in the long term. When it comes to performance, the T5 does not outperform the T8 by as much as twice. If you are after long term goals and already have T8s in place, you can stick by them. However, if you’re installing a new system, you can invest in T5s.
- Life Span: This point may shock you, but these tubes have an average expectancy of 36,000 hours at a 12-hour per day usage. None will last longer than the other, and you will replace them at around the same time. This aspect ties in with the cost. While a T5 may have better energy efficiency, the T8 also holds its weight in the long term.
- Brightness: When it comes to lumens, the T5s win. They put out more lumens per watt, allowing you to save more money on utility costs. Again, this comes down to energy efficiency. However, when working with spaces that are smaller than 12 feet, a T8 can work just fine. But with areas that need more lighting or are much bigger, a T5 is the better option. It will enable you to use less wattage and still enjoy excellent performance.
To install any of these tubes, you have to consider the pin type in your light fixtures. The T5 uses a G5 pin, while the T8 uses a G13 bi-pin, as does the T12.
Another critical factor to consider is how you will install the LED tubes. You will come across the following options:
These tubes feature internal drivers, which enable them to operate using existing fluorescent ballasts. Anyone looking to upgrade their existing light fixtures without incurring high costs can consider this. They do not require any rewiring or electrical changes. Instead, all you do is remove the existing tubes and replace them with LED alternatives, provided the fit is right.
These tubes also have internal drivers. However, it’s powered by the line voltage in the existing fixture and installing a new LED tube is complex. You will need an electrician to either remove or bypass the existing ballast. Bypassing the ballast ensures compatibility and reduces the costs of replacement. Plus, it does away with unnecessary power usage.
Unlike the options above, type C tubes feature external drivers instead of relying on integrated drivers. You will need an electrician for this to remove the ballast and change the existing fixtures. These are the best options if you want more control over the lighting fixtures.
Talk to your electrician today and see which of the above options would work for you. Alternatively, get a type A bulb and avoid the extra costs.