T8 vs T12 Tube Light: A Comprehensive Analysis

Single LED T8 Tube Batten, Emergency Lighting

Fluorescent tube lights have been around for decades in commercial and residential lighting. They are a cost effective way to light up large areas. The nomenclature “T8” and “T12” refers to the diameter of the tube in eighths of an inch. So T8 tubes are 1 inch in diameter (8/8 inch) and T12 tubes are 1.5 inches in diameter (12/8 inch). This small difference in size has big implications for performance, efficiency and application.

LED integrated t8 tube light

Energy Consumption

T8 tubes are more energy efficient than T12s. They use less power to produce the same amount of light. For example a typical T8 tube uses 28-32 watts compared to a T12’s 40 watts for the same length. Modern LED versions of T8 tubes can be even more efficient using as little as 24 watts for a 4 foot length. This difference in energy usage can add up to big savings over time especially in large scale installations like office buildings and factories.

Light Output and Quality

T8 tubes produce better light than T12 tubes. T8 tubes have higher luminous efficacy meaning they produce more lumens per watt. This means brighter and more consistent light. T8 tubes have higher Color Rendering Index (CRI) meaning they render colors more accurately and are better suited for environments where color accuracy is important like retail stores and art studios.


T8 bulbs last longer than T12s. Traditional fluorescent T8 tubes last around 24,000 hours, T12 tubes around 20,000 hours. LED T8 tube lights can last up to 50,000 hours or more.

Construction and Materials Both

T8 and T12 tubes are made of similar materials such as glass and phosphor coatings. But with technology advancing, T8 tubes are using more eco-friendly materials. For example T8 tubes have less mercury than T12 tubes making them safer and more sustainable.Environmental Regulations Since T8s are more energy efficient and have less mercury, they are more likely to meet environmental regulations. Regulations like the European Union’s RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) directive and similar standards in other regions favor the use of T8s over T12s. Of course LED T8 tube lights are the best option as they are mercury free and more energy efficient.

Ballast Compatibility

One of the considerations when choosing between T8 and T12 is ballast compatibility. Ballasts are the devices that regulate the current to the tubes. T8 tubes require electronic ballasts, T12 tubes can use magnetic ballasts.However, LED T8 tube fixtures are quick to install and maintain, no ballast and no compatibility issues, a new safe choice for many scenarios. T12 fixtures were once the norm, many new installations and retrofits are T8 or LED T8 because of the efficiency. Adapters are available to convert T12 fixtures to T8 or LED T8 tubes, so you don’t have to replace the whole fixture.


T8 tubes have more advantages than T12 tubes, energy efficiency, better light quality, longer lifespan and meet environmental regulations. Although the upfront cost of retrofitting is higher, the long term benefits makes T8 the best choice for commercial and residential applications. As the demand for energy efficient and eco friendly lighting solutions grows, LED T8 tube light fixture is the new popular and practical choice.



What’s the difference between T8 and T12 tube lights?

The difference between T8 and T12 tube lights are in energy consumption, light output, lifespan and environmental impact. T8 tubes are more energy efficient, more lumens per watt and longer lifespan than T12 tubes. T8 tubes also have less mercury, more eco friendly and compliant to many regulations. T12 tubes are generally less efficient and shorter lifespan.

Why T8 tube lighting is more eco friendly than T12?

T8 tube lighting is more eco friendly than T12 for several reasons. First, T8 tubes are more energy efficient, reduces overall energy consumption and greenhouse gas emission. Second, T8 tubes have less mercury, a hazardous substance found in fluorescent lights, reduces the environmental impact when the tubes are disposed. Third, longer lifespan of T8 tubes means fewer replacement and less waste over time.

How is the light quality and color rendering different between T8 and T12 tube lights?

T8 tube lights have better light quality and color rendering than T12 tube lights. T8 tubes have higher luminous efficacy, more lumens per watt, brighter and more consistent lighting. They have higher Color Rendering Index (CRI) means they render colors more accurately. This makes T8 tubes good for environments where color accuracy is important, retail stores, art studios and office spaces.

Share this post