Fluorescent’s Not Dead: The Solution for Jobs that Just Aren’t Ready for LED

Ryan Micheletto | District Purchasing Agent | Joliet, IL

When specifying jobs where upfront costs, payback, and a current lighting system are a hurdle, GE Lighting provides a solution with its line of fluorescent Super eXtended Life (SXL) T8 lamps


Many factors go into a decision to upgrade from incandescent, halogen, or fluorescent to LED, and after weighing return on investment, the current lighting system, utility rebates, hours of operation, etc., LED doesn’t always fit the bill. Even if everything lines up in favor of a conversion, upfront LED costs often come as a surprise to the customer, and are the primary reason lighting upgrades get put on the back burner. 

GE Lighting’s SXL T8 lamps give customers a whole new option when it comes to upgrading their lighting systems. Each lamp runs between 21 and 25 watts when operating on a GE UltraStart ballast, and boasts an 84,000 hour rated life backed by a seven-year full system warranty on both the lamps and ballast. These numbers are impressive on their own, but keeping in mind the typical LED commercial troffer from a reputable vendor comes with a five-year warranty and an advertised lifespan of 60,000 hours, this is performance that can clearly compete with LED options in the market today.

This solution isn’t limited to customers with old fluorescent T12 systems looking to upgrade. It can be installed in new and existing T8 systems. Even without a GE UltraStart ballast, these lamps boast a 70,000 hour rated life, which means customers who are looking to save on energy and maintenance costs on their current T8 system will save seven watts for each lamp they replace and gain an extra 50,000 hours of life compared to standard T8 lamps. In a common three lamp fixture, that’s 21 watts saved per retrofitted fixture, which adds up quickly.

Considering all of the features, it is hard to find a more cost effective option than the 25 watt and 28 watt SXL T8s for customers looking to upgrade their current system. Although the SXL is double the price of a standard T8 lamp, GE Lighting SXL lamps will most likely qualify for utility rebate programs now offered in most states. Using Illinois as an example, commercial customers in the ComEd market can receive an instant rebate of one dollar per lamp purchased. If the customer happens to be a part of a municipality or public building, grant money is available that will net a $2.50 rebate for each lamp purchased. With these rebates and programs you'll have a premium, long life, energy-saving lamp for a lower cost than a full wattage T8.

A look at the Numbers

Using the ComEd service area of Illinois as an example, when performing a full system retrofit from an older T12 fluorescent system to a new T8 system, commercial customers enjoy significant rebates by simply upgrading to T8 lamps while removing T12s. To illustrate this, the charts below show the upfront costs, rebate amounts, and payback period for a 25 watt T8 retrofit and a new LED fixture upgrade from both an older four lamp F40 T12 fixture and a newer three lamp T8 fixture. Keep in mind that many utility companies have similar programs.


Three Lamp T8 Fixture Upgrade

While LED offers greater energy savings and a lower cost of ownership over the long term than nearly all fluorescent systems (especially if energy costs continue to rise), SXL T8 lamps offer a lower out-of-pocket cost, quicker payback, and easier install. It's clear that fluorescent SXL T8 lamps have a place to compete today.

Though the SXL solution is ideal for end users, contractors can leverage the SXL to secure business. In a competitive bid situation, 25 watt and 28 watt SXL lamps differentiate a quote from the rest of the field. In every bid situation you will find a host of LED solutions competing on price. Instead of trying to undercut competition on the cost of a fixture, offering a cost effective alternative solution not only lowers the end user’s up-front investment, but provides a thoughtful point of differentiation, increasing the odds of the contractor taking the job.

Case Study

"Recently we found ourselves at a local Village Hall, tasked with changing out six-inch CFL cans to LED. It was a large recently constructed building and a majority of the rooms were also lit with three lamp T8 fixtures. After inquiring into their thoughts on saving energy with their T8 system as well, we determined they had received other bids on converting both the cans and T8 fixtures to LED, but switching the cans was the only option that made fiscal sense at the time. We began explaining a simple lamp changeover to GE Lighting’s 25 watt SXL lamps and the benefits that provided to maintenance and energy. When we mentioned that the state offered a $2.50 rebate per lamp and that they could make the conversion for a more affordable price than they were currently buying their standard lamps from at a local competitor, we got clearance to include the new lamps with the six-inch LED retrofits. Not only did we end up walking the entire building to get a count on the T8 lamps, but were invited to audit the Police Station and Maintenance building. By presenting the SXL solution to the customer we not only gained an opportunity to sell more product, but earned credibility with the customer creating more job opportunities than had we just bid the six-inch retrofits like the competition."

The Takeaway

While LED is the latest and greatest technology in the lighting field, it is important to keep solutions like the GE Lighting SXL T8 in mind. They're great for any customer or end user who isn’t ready for the upfront cost of converting to LED, has a newer, efficient fluorescent system, or is currently buying standard T8 lamps. For the contractor or distributor looking to win a competitive bid or differentiate themselves, the SXL T8 is a notable solution to bring to the table. 

Shop GE Lighting's SXL T8 on cesco.com today and start saving.

Click here to subscribe to future articles and stay up to date with Crescent Electric.