T12 Fluorescents are not just out-of-date – it is officially out of production. Ready to update your commercial building and more towards an energy-efficient future with LED lighting? Follow our guide to selecting the best LED conversion kit to replace your old T12 fluorescent lights. 

T12 Fluorescents Vs. LED Lighting

In U.S. commercial buildings electric lighting is responsible for over one-quarter of the energy burned. It continues to be a primary contributor to overall operating costs because a large majority of commercial buildings are still outfitted with ancient T12 light bulbs.

T12 fluorescent lights are not simply old-fashioned or retro, they are a completely discontinued lighting product. Back in 2012, the U.S. stopped importing and manufacturing T12 lamps. This is true for the standard four-foot T12 lamps, eight-foot T12 lamps, and two-foot T12 U lamps that were popularly used in commercial buildings in the past.

In a push to reduce the use of mercury and fossil-based fuel, the EPA is now recommending retrofitting all T12 fixtures. Now there are even incentive programs to encourage building owners to upgrade their lighting!

Lamp Types – What’s the Difference?

Traditional fluorescent lights are tube-shaped lamps with a chemical phosphor coating on the inside of the tube.  They have small pins on each end that fit into the tombstones located in light fixtures. Common fluorescent lamp types:

  • T12 lamps have a diameter of 1 ½ inches (or 12/8th of an inch.)
  • T8 lamps are fluorescent lights one inch (or 8/8ths) in diameter.
  • T5 lamps are 5/8th in diameter.

LED lights operate completely differently than fluorescent lamps. They efficiently use an electrical current that passes through semiconductor material, illuminating light-emitting diodes, we call LEDs. Best of all, LEDs do not contain harmful mercury.


Maybe you’ve probably heard that retrofitting or converting your old T12 lighting to LED can be expensive. But have you also heard about all the money you’ll save in the long-term from boosting your efficiency? Check out the 2021 Energy-Efficiency Lighting Guide for Businesses and Building Owners to get all the facts. Here are some quick specs on the compared efficiency rates of fluorescent vs. LED lighting:

  • The typical T12 four-lamp fixture uses 172 watts of power between the lamps and ballast.
  • LED equivalents typically use only 50 watts, 71% less energy per fixture!
  • Not only are they brighter per watt, but they also last longer than even the preferred fluorescent bulbs.
  • High-quality LED bulbs can last up to 10 years in a new fixture.
  • Money is saved on maintenance, replacement bulbs, and energy saved!

Want to learn more about how swapping your T12 fluorescents to LED is an efficiency game changer? Book a call with us! We’d love to discuss all the benefits with you.

Why T12 Tubes Are Perfect Candidates To Upgrade To LED

One common question many building owners ask is, “Is it possible to retrofit T12 to LED without changing out the entire fixture?” Simply put, yes. However, before you move in that direction, there are other LED solutions that you should definitely learn about and consider for a high-efficiency lighting alternative to your existing T12s.

It’s incredible how rapidly things change in the lighting industry. Efficiency and clean energy are driving the market to produce more and more sustainable alternatives to the old standards in commercial lighting.  For example, in 2016, the hot new item was a plug-and-play LED replacement for T12 lamps. It was called the InstantFit LED tube and it was compatible with old-school magnetic ballasts. Already, that product has been discontinued due to even more advanced and better options.

Jump forward to 2021, and new LED options have been released with significant improvements — like a UniversalFit LED tube. Unique, due to its compatibility with both the magnetic ballast found in most T12 fixtures and electronic ballasts that you would need to use when the old ballast finally fails.

Fluorescent Lights Are a Dying Species

Because T12 fluorescents haven’t been manufactured for few years, you are essentially waiting for the clock to run out as you make a decision on a future solution. Even if you had an old stockpile, 2010 legislation called for the end of production of magnetic ballasts – the functional heart behind T12 lamps. So there’s really no chance of keeping those old boys going.

Maybe you’ve already begun shopping around and considering options for replacing your T12s.  By nature, we seek out what we’re familiar with. And while there are still some fluorescent tubes still made today, we strongly recommend against investing in these. It will only be a very short matter of time until energy regulations cause them to become extinct as well!

Look forward, and invest your time, energy, and money into selecting the best T12 fluorescent to LED conversion.

What’s the best LED retrofit option for replacing T12 fluorescents?

When you’re converting your existing T12 lamps to LED, you have several options to choose from:

1. LED CK Kit

Developed by Energy Bank technology and brought to you by BizReps as a certified distributor, this superior LED Conversion Kit replaces T8 and T12 fluorescent 8-foot configurations with strip fixtures for high-quality, 100,000-hour superior, maintenance-free illumination for years to come. With fast installation, you can light your entire building with ease.

The LED CK Kit is our #1 choice for several reasons:

  • Constructed of commercial-grade aluminum with a composite polyester exterior finish, it is durable and long-lasting.
  • Its universal mounting on 4.25″ to 5.25″-wide fixture makes it a breeze to install.
  • Featuring a non-glare optical grade Acrylic, lighting is crystal clear and easy on the eyes.
  • All parts of the product are proudly made in the USA.
  • The LED CK Kit even includes a 5-year standard limited warranty.

2. Ballast-bypass linear LED lamps

Next at the top of the list for energy efficiency would be ballast-bypass LED replacement lamps. They don’t contend for the number one position because there are safety concerns. A ballast-bypass is only recommended when using double-ended LED tubes because single-ended tubes are known to present various safety hazards.

  • Also known as a direct wire solution, the ballast-bypass LED conversion should only be done by a qualified electrician.
  • Ballast-bypass LEDs work straight off the line voltage flowing directly to the sockets, requiring you to remove the original fluorescent ballast.
  • This solution might cost more in labor and sockets, but it will pay off in energy savings.

3. Plug-and-play or direct fit linear LED

The direct-fit or plug-and-play linear LED option is what many people imagine– a quick, swap out of the original linear fluorescent lamp for the LED. Working directly with the existing fluorescent ballast, this LED conversion requires no rewiring or ballast change. However, you do need to check and make sure that your ballast is compatible.

4. Electronic ballast-compatible linear LEDs and a new electronic ballast

Looking for substantial energy savings? You can successfully avoid mercury, and gain long life lighting by upgrading to current electronic ballast-compatible LED tubes.

  • Increase your flexibility and potential savings.
  • Provide a solution that needs any maintenance for years to come.
  • Keep the up-front cost lower than a completely new fixture.

5. A brand new LED fixture

Planning on completely remodeling? In this situation, it’s good to consider investing in a full LED fixture. This option allows for maximum energy savings, plus a significant cosmetic and aesthetic upgrade. More recently options have also become much more affordable!

Overall Benefits of LED Conversion

When you finally ditch your old T12 fluorescent lamps and invest in a high quality LED Conversion Kit like the LED CK Kit from BizReps, you will see a major return on investment. These are just some of the benefits you can expect from a T12 fluorescent to LED conversion:

  • LED still gives off light at end-of-life: At the end of its life, a fluorescent lamp is very simple to spot, because it is absolutely dead. In comparison, LED replacement bulbs calculate the end of life at 70% which is approximately 50,000 hours.
  • LED replacement bulbs have no mercury: One of the most important differences lies in the fact that there is no mercury or glass content with LED lighting, making them the obvious safer and more sustainable choice.
  • LED does not give off UV: LED replacement bulbs do not emit any light in the non-visible light spectrum (UV).  This harmful light can cause colors to fade in fabrics, signage, and irritates eyes, resulting in strain and fatigue.
  • LED makes air conditioning more efficient: LED fixtures contribute little to none in regards to heat gain in a room or air-conditioned space.  The LED generates less heat.  Less heat means that the Air Conditioning system does not have to work as hard.
  • LED provides 70% more light: The beam angle of the LED replacement bulb is 110 degrees. This means that all of the light generated by the LED bulb is focused in the 110-degree area.

Ready to upgrade to the best LED conversion for T12 Fluorescents? Book a call with our team at biz-reps.com/schedule! We work with companies that are ready to take the next step into better lighting, more efficient lighting that’s going to save money and energy. There are many possible LED lighting solutions that we’re ready to share with you.

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