T8 Fluorescent Lamp Retrofit

The fluorescent light fixture in the laundry room had issues, with only two bulbs reliably lighting and a persistent buzzing sound. This is the telltale sign of a failing ballast, and with the bulbs being fairly old (last replaced in 2005) it was time for some work.

The fixture had been fitted with F40 / T12 bulbs and a pair of two-lamp magnetic ballasts. Since these bulbs aren’t being manufactured anymore (this was stopped in mid-2012) I had to move to T8 bulbs. This wasn’t a problem, as I’d been keen to try the Philips F32T8/TL950 high-CRI (98!!!) / 5000K bulbs. Outside of very specialized full spectrum bulbs these seem like the holy grail of daylight lamps. They aren’t readily available in shops in less than 25 packs, but some Amazon sellers have them individually for reasonable prices.

Four bulbs were ordered ($13.32/ea) via Amazon, along with an ICN-4P32-N electronic ballast ($15.60), and this evening I put it all together. Wiring was surprisingly simple, with everything being relatively color-coded and easy to fit. Two old magnetic ballasts were removed, the replacement electronic ballast was fitted / capped / taped, and it was ready to go.

These lamps look great, and the laundry room is now brighter than ever. These lamps look so good that I’m now considering them for over my workbench and trying to find a way to use them in the office. With such a high CRI and daylight-like temperature these should be good for dealing with seasonal affective disorder or just general blue feelings in winter. (Yes, getting out and riding in daylight helps, but that’s not really possible on weekdays…)

One Comment

  1. Jeff Schmitz:

    Excellent site, excellent repair. I did the same thing to a kitchen as one of two mag ballasts was buzzing and the cavity they all lived in was very warm from waste heat out of the ballasts and T12 bulbs. Post repair with electronic ballasts I found the kitchen bordered on too bright with 4 T8 tubes. The T8’s put out more perceived light; there are three tube T8 fixtures out there that work well to account for this. After 4 or five years a single bulb burned out and the area is maybe a bit under lit but that may be due to the one good bulb in that fixture not getting full current. I will likely stick with the present 4 T8 setup as we are used to it and like it. The power savings are significant by the way, especially with an area that has high usage like a kitchen. In areas that need airconditioning the savings are even better as there is a lot less waste heat.

    Recently Costco has been selling 4 foot LED fixtures; they came to market at ~39 dollars and are down to 29 here in Anchorage. I’ve tried them and they are very good for general lighting. CRI is not listed but for less than 30 bucks they are good for shop lights, etc and maybe more and are even less of an air conditioning laod. We are using several at a cabin that runs on a 1 Kw Honda.

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