Effective July, 2010 magnetic ballasts will be banned from production

 The Switch is On: Upgrade from Magnetic to Electronic Ballasts for T12s

An upgrade from T12 magnetic ballasts to T12 electronic ballasts represents an easy and energy-efficient way to comply with recently-mandated magnetic ballast efficiency standards.

In April 2005, ballast efficacy standards mandated by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) went into effect.

This standard officially outlaws the manufacture of magnetic ballasts for standard T12 40-watt, 4-foot fluorescent Rapid Start lamps, 75-watt 8-foot fluorescent Slimline lamps, and 110-watt, 8-foot fluorescent High Output lamps used in new fixtures.

A few months later, the landmark Energy Policy Act of 2005 confirmed this directive and further extended the mandate to the energy-saving versions of most of these lamps (including 34-watt, 4-foot fluorescent Rapid Start lamps and 60-watt 8-foot fluorescent Slimline models).

The OEM community was the first to feel the impact in 2005, with distributors retaining the right to sell replacement products until 2010. On July 1st, 2010, however, manufacturers must terminate production of these products for the replacement market as well.

Though magnetic ballasts are still popularly called upon to drive the sizable T12 lamp market, they were ultimately banned based on their less energy-efficient status, compared to other more-efficient and readily available products on the market. These include:

- Standard and high-efficiency T8 electronic ballasts,

- T5 electronic ballasts, and

- Dimming and other sustainable alternatives.

While these technologies are being promoted as the most desirable replacement alternatives based on their high performance and maximum energy-savings characteristics, the fact is that financial, organizational, or other conditions may preclude some end users from opting for these technologies.

Fortunately, the market offers an interim replacement option. This will enable distributors and contractors to change out their customers’ obsolete T12 magnetic ballasts quickly and easily in compliance with all legislation, while still delivering the benefits of high performance, energy-efficiency, and cost savings. The option involves the simple upgrade from T12 magnetic to T12 electronic ballast technology.

Typically designed around the same footprint as the magnetic ballasts they replace–and fully compliant with new energy mandates–electronic ballasts for T12 fluorescent lamps serve a multitude of purposes.

Says Advance’s Electronic Fluorescent Product Manager Dan Lee, “T12 electronic ballasts are excellent replacements for federally-outlawed magnetic ballasts in new construction or refurbishment applications, and they also serve as highly suitable and energy-efficient alternatives to federally-outlawed magnetic ballasts in retrofit and upgrade applications.”

T12 Electronic Ballasts: A Simple and Energy-Efficient Lighting Solution

An upgrade from T12 magnetic ballasts to T12 electronic ballast technology is easy and offers a comprehensive range of benefits:

- Energy Efficiency: T12 electronic ballasts are up to 20% more efficient than magnetic ballast technology and can reduce energy consumption by an average of 10 watts per ballast.

In a typical application where lights are operated for 4,000 hours per year at an average cost of 8 cents per kWh, an upgrade to electronic T12 ballasts can reduce energy costs by $3.20 per ballast per year, or by an estimated $40 per ballast over its lifespan!

When applied to the number of ballasts in a typical commercial installation, these savings can certainly help boost the bottom line and drive an attractive payback period and return on investment

- Electronic circuitry: As a function of their electronic circuitry, electronic ballasts operate more quietly than magnetic ballasts and produce steadier light output, insuring smooth, flicker-free performance

- Ease of handling and installation: Most electronic T12 ballasts offer the same wiring configurations as their magnetic counterparts, easing the installation process and reducing maintenance concerns.

In addition, electronic T12 models are generally smaller in size and lighter in weight than their magnetic counterparts, increasing ease of shipping and handling.

- Environmentally Responsible: By upgrading to T12 electronic ballasts, end users are doing their part to reduce the nation’s energy requirements and the subsequent emission of harmful pollutants which are the result of electricity generation by utilities.

According to estimates by the Lighting Efficiency Coalition, the nation’s upgrade from magnetic T12 to electronic T12 ballasts alone would reduce annual electricity demand by 25 billion kilowatt hours, avoid the need for 3.3 nuclear power plants, prevent the emission of 17.5 million tons of carbon dioxide into the environment, and save users $2 billion on their energy bills each year.

The Time Is Now

While new federal efficiency standards affecting magnetic ballasts won’t officially impact distributors until 2010, there has never been a better time to investigate all of the lighting upgrade opportunities available and help your customers to pursue the course of action that best serves their needs and budgets.

When an upgrade to higher-efficiency lamp and ballast technology is not feasible, an upgrade from magnetic T12 ballasts to electronic T12 ballast technology is a simple and effective way to comply with new legislation, while taking advantage of the tremendous financial, aesthetic, and environmental benefits that a lighting upgrade can offer!

Resource: lighting.com

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