T8-T5 Fluorescent Retrofit Kits used to be a popular energy efficient option to replace T8 fluorescent tubes but are largely being discontinued as LED technology has improved and pricing come down substantially. This article serves to explain why T8-T5 Fluorescent Retrofit Kits are no longer a smart choice and why LEDs are a far better option for retrofitting T8 fluorescent fittings.
Reason 1: Stock Availability
Stock is very difficult to find as they have been largely discontinued by manufacturers and importers due to the reasons listed below. If you need to replace existing T8 to T5 fluorescent retrofit kits, its best to make the switch now to T8 LED tubes.
Reason 2: Energy Efficiency
T8 LED Tubes are more energy efficient than standard output T5 Fluorescent Tubes and don’t run off control gear. Eg:
5ft T8 Fluorescent = 58W
5ft T8-T5 Fluorescent Retrofit Kit = 35W
5ft T8 LED Tube = 24W
Reason 3: Lifespan
T5 fluorescent lamps don’t last as long as LED lamps which means you will be paying more in replacements costs for the T5s than you would for LED tubes. T5 Fluorescent Lamps are generally rated at 20,000 hours versus quality LED tubes which offers 50,000 hours. A T5 fluorescent lamp life can also be heavily reduced by the quality of the ballast, power supply and switching frequency.
Reason 4: Costs
T8-T5 retrofit kits used to be more economical than LED tubes years ago but the cost of a fluorescent retrofit kit is now higher than an equivalent LED tube. Yes, there is some initial labour costs in rewiring the fitting for LED tubes, but this only needs to be done once.
Reason 5: Maintenance Costs
Using LEDs instead of fluorescent retrofit kits results in a much greater savings in maintenance costs due to the superior lifespan of LED tubes compared to T5 fluorescent lamps and the ballasts that power them. There are savings in lamp replacement costs as well as the time and labour to replace them.
Reason 6: Future Replacements
T8 to T5 retrofit kits are already largely discontinued and getting harder and harder to find. Buildings that installed these kits years ago (when they were popular or because of the Eskom rebate they received) now sit with the problem of replacing them as they fail. At some point they will need to throw out the retrofit kit and rewire the old T8 fitting to accommodate T8 LED tubes. Once this is done, a new T8 LED may be used whenever a replacement is required which won’t be for a very long time. T8 LED tubes will also not be discontinued any time soon.
From the 6 reasons listed above, it is clear that using T8 LED tubes to replace T8 fluorescent lamps is a far better choice than using T5 retrofit kits. Not only are they cheaper upfront; they will also save more energy and cost a lot less to maintain in future.