Are LED T8s more environmentally friendly than fluorescent T8s? Yes, fluorescent lamps do have
mercury, and LEDs do not. But there are several issues with LEDs, including toxic chemicals used
in production, amount of water required in production and the amount of metal that is mined,
melted and transported for heat sinking. The DOE has not yet determined if LEDs are really more
environmentally friendly cradle to cradle. But some LED T8 marketing literature and sales people
state ‘toxic’ when referring to fluorescent. Fluorescent lamps now have much less mercury than in
the past. Now most fluorescent T8s have 1.7 to 5.0 mg, which is considerably less than what is in
typical can of tuna fish. Plus many areas require fluorescent lamp recycling.
I have also seen LED T8 literature and heard sales people stating that fluorescent T12 and T8
lamps only last 10,000 or 15,000 hours, which is incorrect. As shown above, there are fluorescent
T8s, which are rated for up to 62,000 hours, which is longer than the ratings on most LED T8s.
Although DesignLights Consortium (DLC) for the most part has not approved LED T8s in its LED
T8 lamp category, it has approved some in its ‘lamp-style retrofit kits for linear panels’ category.
Again two or more LED T8s, which are typical LED T8s, can qualify in this category, mainly
because of the higher lumens from more than one lamp in this pseudo ‘kit’. Is this just
It is my understanding the California large investor owned utilities, which include Pacific Gas &
Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison, which generally will provide
rebates on DLC listed products, will not rebate any LED T8s, even if they are approved one way or
the other by the DLC. Hopefully other rebate organizations will not rebate LED T8s. I do not
understand why ConEd in New York is accepting rebates on LED T8s.
It is usually not a good idea to cram LED technology into incumbent shapes, including 1” diameter
and 4’ long lamps.
I ask manufacturers to stop trying to sell LED T8s in North America, but develop LED light bars,
which could be about 1” wide and 4’ long. These could be screwed into the top of the fixture, using
the entire fixture as a heat sink. Having the light higher in the fixture could also help improving side
light out of the fixture. The driver could be installed in the ballast compartment, which would be
better for heat for both the LEDs and driver. The existing lamp holders would not be used. One
existing example is the Albeo T8 Conversion kits. If you are not aware, GE recently bought Albeo.
Here is an installation video of the Albeo LED light bar kit.
Several manufacturers have already developed or are in the process of developing hardwired LED
kits with their own optics and lenses, which in most applications is much better than just LED T8s
or LED light bars, while keeping existing lenses or louvers.
There are already some very good dimmable and fixed Kelvin LED troffers, including the Cree CR,
Finelite LED HPR and Lithonia RTLED. Pricing on some of these can be as low as $200 or lower.
There are also some good dimming and Kelvin changing LED troffers and troffer kits, such as from
PlanLED, which cost about the same and have the same lumens per watt as fixed equivalents, but
also go from warm to cool white. PlanLED also has dimming and Kelvin changing task lights.
Please check out the Human Centric Lighting website.
You can download the complete PDF report below: