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Replacing T12 Garage Fixtures?

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Dec 19, 2010
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Replacing T12 Garage Fixtures?

I recently had some of the bulbs going in the 2x4' T12 fluorescent fixtures in my garage (6 fixtures total). Rather then spend a dime on new bulbs, I figured it was time to upgrade to LED.

What the best bang for the buck for a suitable replacement nowadays? I know I could just change the ballast to a T8 ballast and put in LED blubs, but the diffusers are pretty old, yellow and cracked, so I want to do a complete fixture replacement.

Recommendations?
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Oct 12, 2007
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How big is the garage? The amount of light you need depends on the size of the garage so that should be your guide.

When I decided to convert, I pulled out the old fixtures and put single A-19 fixtures in their place. I have only four fixtures in my garage and I use four 4-way splitter adapters on each. That allows me to use regular non-dimmable (and super cheap) A19 LED bulbs with mixed wattage depending on where I need the most light. Works like a charm. The ceiling is white and yes, there's more light directed upwards than I'd like but the plus side is I get to see the cobwebs...

Here's a splitter adapter I have purchased in the past:

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B06ZZW ... UTF8&psc=1
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CaptSmethwick wrote: How big is the garage? The amount of light you need depends on the size of the garage so that should be your guide.

When I decided to convert, I pulled out the old fixtures and put single A-19 fixtures in their place. I have only four fixtures in my garage and I use four 4-way splitter adapters on each. That allows me to use regular non-dimmable (and super cheap) A19 LED bulbs with mixed wattage depending on where I need the most light. Works like a charm. The ceiling is white and yes, there's more light directed upwards than I'd like but the plus side is I get to see the cobwebs...

Here's a splitter adapter I have purchased in the past:

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B06ZZW ... UTF8&psc=1
I think it's only about 20x28 (an oversized single). There's currently a 2x4 T12 fixture in each corner and 2 x incandescent bulb fixtures in the center. I just figured I'd replace everything with the same.

I like a lot of light in the garage, as I do a fair bit of work in there. When everything every thing was working, I found it to be a little dim for my liking.
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Ours is a little larger and I also do quite a bit of work in mine.

A 2x4 T12 throws a lot of light - probably pretty close to 5000 lumens each fixture whereas an array of 4 x100w equivalent LED lights is going to produce 6000 lumens - they won't seem much different though because the fluorescent fixture is better at aiming the light downwards. I have two 4x100 arrays over where I park our two cars and one over my workbench and never want for light. It is way brighter in my garage today than when I had four 2x4 fluorescents but I still like to supplement with task lighting when I doing brakes or other jobs under my cars as our garage has poor natural lighting and my eyes are not what they used to be.
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DirtyDog wrote: ..

What the best bang for the buck for a suitable replacement nowadays? I know I could just change the ballast to a T8 ballast and put in LED blubs, but the diffusers are pretty old, yellow and cracked, so I want to do a complete fixture replacement.

?
Best bang for buck is to bypass the T12 ballast and install replacement LED tubes. I think a pair of tubes is $17 or $8-9 a tube. You don’t need to change the ballast to T8, just bypass it all together and feed 120 vac directly to the LED tubes.

All you need is 1 LED tube per fixture = same light from 2 T12 fluorescent tubes. Likewise, you can double the light over existing by going to 2 led tubes per fixture

Total = 6 LED tubes altogether = $50-$60 for led tubes and a few marrettes
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Jan 25, 2007
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T8 ballasts are insanely expensive. More for a ballast than I paid for the fixtures when new. I think $30+ per ballast.
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Sep 1, 2014
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Should just pick up these LED lights, extremely bright and cheap. You can buy for double the price on Amazon if you want it faster. Super happy with mine.

C$ 22.21 33%OFF | Super Bright E27 60W UFO LED High Bay Light Garage Lamp AC 85-265V Waterproof IP65 Industrial Lighting 6000LM for Warehouses
https://a.aliexpress.com/tSm379Ti
[OP]
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CaptSmethwick wrote: Ours is a little larger and I also do quite a bit of work in mine.

A 2x4 T12 throws a lot of light - probably pretty close to 5000 lumens each fixture whereas an array of 4 x100w equivalent LED lights is going to produce 6000 lumens - they won't seem much different though because the fluorescent fixture is better at aiming the light downwards. I have two 4x100 arrays over where I park our two cars and one over my workbench and never want for light. It is way brighter in my garage today than when I had four 2x4 fluorescents but I still like to supplement with task lighting when I doing brakes or other jobs under my cars as our garage has poor natural lighting and my eyes are not what they used to be.
I'm a fan of the diffused area lighting that a traditional 2x4 produces, but I will give your approach some consideration. Not a major issue, however I'm sure when I pull out the fixtures, there'll be some really noticeable yellowing/etc. and I wasn't planning on painting.
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l69norm wrote: Best bang for buck is to bypass the T12 ballast and install replacement LED tubes. I think a pair of tubes is $17 or $8-9 a tube. You don’t need to change the ballast to T8, just bypass it all together and feed 120 vac directly to the LED tubes.

All you need is 1 LED tube per fixture = same light from 2 T12 fluorescent tubes. Likewise, you can double the light over existing by going to 2 led tubes per fixture

Total = 6 LED tubes altogether = $50-$60 for led tubes and a few marrettes
I haven't come across any bypass tubes of a decent light output for anywhere near that price, but I will look around.

As I said, I'd prefer new fixtures at this point, but if I could find cheap bypass bulbs compatible with my current sockets I'd definitely consider it.
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DirtyDog wrote: I haven't come across any bypass tubes of a decent light output for anywhere near that price, but I will look around.

As I said, I'd prefer new fixtures at this point, but if I could find cheap bypass bulbs compatible with my current sockets I'd definitely consider it.
A T8 fluorescent tube on paper is rated at approx 3000 lm while a LED tube is approx 2000 lm . It appears on paper that the LED is a lot less powerful so 6000 lumen vs 4000 lumen in a 2 tube fixture.

In real life, a fluorescent tube emits in a 360 degree pattern around the tube so a lot of light output is lost on the sides and back of the tube . An LED tube emits the light at around a 90 degree wide pattern downwards so you don't get wasted light at the sides and back.

The 2000 lm LED tube actually outputs more light onto your work surface than fluorescent 3000 lm tube, even though the overall rated output is less

The T8 and T12 "tombstones"/ sockets are physically the same.

There are LED tubes that work without rewiring the magnetic ballasts, but you still lose energy in the ballasts
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l69norm wrote: A T8 fluorescent tube on paper is rated at approx 3000 lm while a LED tube is approx 2000 lm . It appears on paper that the LED is a lot less powerful so 6000 lumen vs 4000 lumen in a 2 tube fixture.

In real life, a fluorescent tube emits in a 360 degree pattern around the tube so a lot of light output is lost on the sides and back of the tube . An LED tube emits the light at around a 90 degree wide pattern downwards so you don't get wasted light at the sides and back.

The 2000 lm LED tube actually outputs more light onto your work surface than fluorescent 3000 lm tube, even though the overall rated output is less

The T8 and T12 "tombstones"/ sockets are physically the same.

There are LED tubes that work without rewiring the magnetic ballasts, but you still lose energy in the ballasts
I'm fine with re-wiring and chucking the ballasts. No-issues there.

I was referring to shunted vs non-shunted sockets, but I then I also believe all T12s are non-shunted sockets, regardless.

I'm tracking what you're saying about lumen outputs of LEDs vs fluorescent tubes. It makes sense, I just didn't want to come up short of light and have regrets.

So, recommendations/link to a quality, well-priced bypass tube?
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DirtyDog wrote: I'm fine with re-wiring and chucking the ballasts. No-issues there.

I was referring to shunted vs non-shunted sockets, but I then I also believe all T12s are non-shunted sockets, regardless.

I'm tracking what you're saying about lumen outputs of LEDs vs fluorescent tubes. It makes sense, I just didn't want to come up short of light and have regrets.

So, recommendations/link to a quality, well-priced bypass tube?
I used these from prime cables/ living.ca:

https://www.living.ca/p-373175-t8-led-l ... ass-10pack

On sale, the box of 10 were like $79 . For comparison, this was a couple of years back when Costco sold 2 led tubes for $22. I think the Costco price today is about $17 for 2 tubes

These are single ended, ballast bypass. I don’t remember any hassle rewiring t12 fixtures to connect 120 vac directly to the tombstones at one end. I think for T8 , my tombstones actually where shunted with external wires, which I just cut

I think I had bought 2 boxes (20 tubes) for replacing the fluorescent tubes 1 for 1 . I found that was too bright so using 1/2 led was closer to what I had originally

I tested all 20 tubes and burned them all in for a least 4 hours. All worked out if the box, no duds
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May 22, 2015
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Rona are presently clearing out 48" T8 LED fluorescent replacement tubes for $4.50 reduced from $17.99 (Part of their 75% off sale.)

https://www.rona.ca/en/fluorescent-led- ... e-00795749

The ad has incomplete info and of course, no one in the store knows anything about them. Anyway, these are hybrid tubes, either plug and play or direct wired double end. 17W, 4000 K (cool white) and 1800LM. I just bought 15 for my garage and basement and have already installed six in my old T12 fluorescent fittings, removing the ballast and direct wiring 110 v. No duds so far and nice bright light. I would have preferred 5000 k but for the price, I'm not complaining. I got mine at the Brampton store.

They also have a number of T8 plug and play tubes slightly cheaper but of course, once your ballast goes bad, they won't work any more so I didn't consider them.
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To join in on that - Lowes has many 48" T12 and T8 LED tubes for sale at 75% off. They are direct replacements - no wiring involved. I think the ones I bought rang up as $6 for the pair.

Store specific, however I did visit a couple stores and they all had them. Some had more than others.


Obviously YMMV. But hopefully it can help.
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LEDs I've tried the ones that bypass/remove the ballasts in some of our T8 (were T12) fixtures (Toggled brand), and got some that work with electronic ballasts and require no rewiring (Philips InstantFit.) Did them all last spring/summer, so still waiting to see which will be better. The Philips that worked with the elec ballasts were cheaper, but I did get those on sale for $5 each, and the others were $18/pair normal priced. Both seem about the same brightness and the color is good in both.
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I won't bother replacing the tubes, not even the LED tubes, go check your local home hardware store site and amazon and get brand new LED fixture.
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Thanks for the replies.

I ended up getting replacement, single strip LED fixtures from a commercial supplier through an electrician friend. They are 4000 lumens each and the colour is switch (physical) selectable between 3, 4, or 5k. I set them to 5k.

Replacing the 4 x T12 fixtures and 1 x single bulb incandescent bulb fixture with these has been transformational for my garage. The difference is literally night and day.

It definitely wasn't the cheapest solution, but they are a high quality, and hopefully long lasting, fixture. Plus it came with free support and install assistance. Winking Face

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