How Many Government Agencies Does it Take to Screw the Consumer? Just One, and there are A Lot of Them.

source: Mainline Media News

U.S. Dept. of Energy bans older fluorescent lamps from market

By Carl M. Watson
For Main Line Media News
A popular song lyric from the 1960s proclaims, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” That situation could indeed be the case for many owners of obsolete but still widely used T12 fluorescent lighting systems. As part of its ongoing quest to improve energy efficiency in the United States, the Department of Energy’s rulemaking of 2009 will eliminate most of the remaining commonly used types of T12 linear fluorescent lamps by July 14, 2012. The reason is those lamps’ relative inefficiency compared to their more energy-efficient alternatives. Recognize that the magnetic ballasts that are required to operate those T12 lamps were already phased out in October 2010. This major change will directly affect many commercial, retail and institutional businesses; it will even affect some residences. That means you have about 10 months from now (September 2011 through June 2012) to take action to become prepared for the consequences of this change that could directly affect your business.

I went to the Home Depot today, and found out about this from an employee there.  With all the flack about banning traditional incandescent bulbs a few years ago, I’m surprised that I never heard about this one until now.

This is worse, much worse.  The new style compact fluorescent bulbs are direct replacements for the old style incandescents, just unscrew the old bulb and screw in the new.  With the banning of the traditional style T-12 fluorescent tubes, there is no direct replacement available.  You must replace the entire light fixture.  If you have several of these types of light fixtures in your home, and don’t have the skill to replace them yourself, this will lead to a major expense.  

Fortunately for me, that is no problem, but I still resent having to buy new fixtures and go through the hassle of changing them.  If you can’t install new fixtures by yourself, I suggest that you learn.  It’s not that difficult.

Although they are not producing the the longer T-12 tubes anymore, you can still buy them.  However you cannot buy the ballast for the fixtures.  Since these tubes tend to last a long time, I suggest that you stock up on them now.  A couple of extra per fixture should last you until the apocalypse when this will all be a moot point.

I really dislike changes in the marketplace that are not consumer driven.  I think a reasonable compromise would have been to ban the manufacture of the T-12 fixtures, and let the tube market wither away on its own.  That would give consumers plenty of time to adapt and buy new fixtures over a longer period of time.

How about the Consumer Protection Agency protecting us from the Department of Energy?  Better yet, let’s do away with the two agencies all together.


  1. I think it's worth a point of clarity here: certain T12s were phased out, but they could be replaced in the same magnetic ballast using 40-watt T12s or even more energy efficient T8s. If the old ballast was still working, no one was forced to change it out.

    1. I'm sorry, but I don't understand what you are saying. Are you saying that there is a way to use a T8 in a T12 fixture? Even the 72" and 96' ones? Are you saying that they are still going to make 40 watt T12's, but not higher wattages? Sorry if I am sounding stupid here, but please clarify.

      I've asked around, and my sources could be incorrect, but it was my understanding that the long T12, (96" and 72") were no longer being manufactured. New T8 fixtures in short lengths are pretty cheap, so it's no big deal. I still have to go through the pain in the ass of replacing the entire fixture though. The long ones were a different story, they're kinda pricey. I was thinking of maybe replacing one 96" T12 with two 48" T8 fixtures. No matter what, the whole thing is a pain in the ass that I shouldn't have to deal with. The only good news is, that it seems to me, that the T8's are better.