1.What's the difference between electronic and magnetic ballasts?
2.What size tube do I need?
3.What's the difference between Spectra & Maxum?
4.What is the difference between T5, T8, and T12?
5.Can you dim the tubes?
6.What is the proper disposal method for fluorescent tubes?
#1. What's the difference between electronic and magnetic ballasts?
Magnetic ballasts are "older" fluorescent technology. The electronic ballast was introduced in 1981 and produces significant energy and dollar savings over magnetic ballasts in nearly every application for full-sized fluorescent lamps. The electronic ballast is flicker-free and produces virtually no noise or hum. Electronic ballasts will generally reduce the overall load on a circuit by reducing energy demand; magnetic ballasts by comparison consume on the average 2-6 watts more energy that their electronic replacements. Electronic ballasts have a number of other advantages over magnetic ballasts. Electronic ballasts are readily available that operate three or four lamps, allowing the use of a single ballast in 3-lamp and 4-lamp luminaires. This reduces both installation and field wiring labor. Electronic ballasts are designed to operate lamps in either series or parallel mode. The advantage of the parallel mode of operation is that a single lamp failure will not affect the operation of the remaining lamps controlled by the same ballast. Other advantages of the electronic ballast include reduced weight, quieter operation, and reduced lamp flicker. Electronic ballasts are directly interchangeable with magnetic ballasts. Radio frequency interference, while rare, is possible when electronic ballasts are installed in areas where equipment operates on the same frequency as the ballast.
#2. What size tube do I need?
Take a look at the existing tube; if the bulb is 1" wide, you need a T8; if your existing tube is 1 ½ or 1 ¼ " wide you need a T12. (note: 1 ½ " tube is a T10 - a T12 will work anywhere you're using a T10). You can also look at the model number of your bulb; if it says F32T8, you need a T8; if it says F40T12 or F34T10 you need a T12. The newest type of tube is a T5, which is 5/8" wide and most commonly used in industrial settings; if the tube says F54T5 you need a T5. If you are unable to locate any writing on the bulb, then you are usually safe to order based on the length and diameter of your bulb as long as your measurement is precise. Please note: 96" tubes have either a single pin or RDC (Recessed Double Contact).
#3. What's the difference between Spectra & Maxum?
T12 Spectra is 5900 Kelvin, 93 CRI - the T8 Spectra is 5500 Kelvin 93 CRI both T8 and T12 Maxum tubes are 5000 Kelvin 91 CRI The Maxum tubes produce more lumens (amount of light) than the Spectra. We generally tell customers if they are pleased with the amount of light they get from their current bulbs, but want full spectrum bulbs, to go with the Spectra; if they want more light than they are currently getting and want full spectrum bulbs, go with the Maxum. The Maxums are ideal for areas where you do not have enough fixtures or where there is no natural light.
#4. What is the difference between T5, T8, and T12?
The "T" number on any fluorescent tube refers to the diameter of the tube only. This measurement is expressed in eighths of an inch. A T8 tube is 8/8 or 1 inch in diameter. Likewise a T12 is 12/8 or 1-1/2 inches and the T5 is 5/8 inches in diameter. All T8 and T12 bulbs have medium bi-pins on the end of the tube; the T5 has mini bi-pins. Please note: 96" tubes have either a single pin or RDC (Recessed Double Contact). T8 tubes are run on electronic ballasts; the T12 are run on magnetic ballasts or combination ballasts. Rated lamp wattage for F40 T12 is 34 watts and the actual energy use is 37 watts. Rated lamp wattage for F32 T8 is 37 watts and the actual energy use is 29 watts.
#5. Can you dim the tubes?
The tubes will dim if you are using a dimming fluorescent ballast and dimmer control.
#6. What is the proper disposal method for fluorescent tubes?
Disposal regulations vary from state to state. Governmental regulations in many areas require special disposal separate from general and household waste. Most recycling centers accept fluorescent tubes.