Light Bulb Ban: The Late Great T8 700 Series
This past January, EISA brought us the final phase out of 60-watt incandescent bulbs. But two years ago, the phase out program removed some halogen PAR lamps, T12 linear fluorescent lamps, as well as some less popular 2-ft. and 4-ft. T8s. The T8 700 series fluorescent lamps were just shy of the chopping block on the previous phase out, but were given a two-year extension. On July 14th, 2014, all T8 700 series fluorescent lamps will fail to meet the new minimum energy ratings and will no longer be produced. The new ratings increased the minimum allowable values for lumen efficacy (lumens-per-watt), wattage, and minimum color rendering for each lamp. The 700 series of fluorescent T8s has terrible color rendering (averaging in the low 70s) while the newer 800 and 900 series of lamps deliver more vibrant color saturation at CRI levels of 80-85.
The Two-Year Reprieve for the T8 700 Series
Before the 2012 halogen PAR and fluorescent T12/T8 phase out, bulb manufacturing companies took a look at the costs associated with making their lamps. The phase out of the 2-ft. and 4-ft. T8 lamps meant replacing them with the T8 800 series or T5 lamps. However, the 800 series lamps require far more rare-earth metals and oxides than the earlier, less efficient, 700 series lamps. Because these materials were in short supply, fluorescent tube manufacturers requested an extension of the 700 series phase out until they meet production requirements and keep the 800 series of lamps.
This extension was listed for two years, which means these lamps will be phased out next week, on July 14th, 2014. Now the extension for T8 700 series fluorescent lamps (the lamps affected by the phase out) has ended and these lamps have failed to meet the new minimum ratings and will no longer be produced.
How this Affects You
When the original phase out that removed T12 bulbs from the market occurred, it required new fixtures or retrofit kit installations to adjust to the new, more energy efficient, bulbs. However, since this stage of the phase out only affects T8s in the 700 series, fixture changes aren’t a problem. Most of the T8 lamps can simply be upgraded to a more efficient 800 series lamp without any fixture changes. Exceptions would be for changes in length or start type, such as if you plan to change from a two-foot tube to a 4-foot tube or from a rapid start to an instant start lamp. Otherwise, upgrading the lamp will be easy and will end with a more energy efficient lamp or improved color rendering. As an example of this, a simple upgrade from this discontinued 700 series lamp to this 800 series lamp will improve color rendering from 75 to 83 CRI – the DOE requirement is based on wattage, lumens, and CRI which allows the equivalent 800 series to pass while the older 700 fails.
Again, all this phase out does is prevent manufacturers from making 700 series lamps. Existing lamps are still viable for sale. Your existing T8 lamps are still legal for use and can be replaced by 700 series lamps produced before the July 14th, 2014 deadline. If you plan to stock up on the cheaper 700 series, it would be a smart thing to hurry. This close to the deadline, local stores may already be seeing shortages so you’ll want to check online to stock up. But don't forget that the newer 800 and 900 series lamps and T5 replacements are more efficient and have a much higher CRI than the older 700s.
What Do You Think?
With the deadline looming, what do you think of the change? Planning to stock up on T8 lamps from an online source or are you ready to switch to the new 800 or 900 series lamps? Let us know in the comments or give us a shout on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, or Pinterest!