How to Change From T12 to T8

Fluorescent lights were once only for office and commercial buildings, but the recent invention of compact fluorescents, or CFLs, has brought fluorescent lighting into homes around the world.

Many office buildings still use the old T12 standard, which is plagued by a trademark humming noise and inefficiency.Many office buildings still use the old T12 standard, which is plagued by a trademark humming noise and inefficiency.
Despite this sudden popularity, however, most institutions with fluorescent lights are still using T12 bulbs and ballasts, which use World War II technology and are plagued by a trademark hum. Upgrading to the more modern T8 system will save you money through more efficient lighting, reduce the hum associated with the lights, and give you access to better quality, longer-lasting bulbs, reducing maintenance and replacement costs.

Turn off the circuit connected to the light fixture you are working on to avoid electrical shock. Never work on a light without first cutting the power to it.

Remove the plastic cover over the lights. This cover is brittle, so work carefully to avoid cracking it. Set it aside in a safe place.

Remove the existing T12 bulbs. Give them a quarter turn to disengage them and then pull them down gently. Dispose of these lights according to your local regulations.

Cut the wires running to the existing ballasts. Make the cut as close to the ballasts as you can get. You will use these wires to connect the lamp to the new ballast.

Unscrew the screws holding the ballast in place. Keep one hand on the ballast to avoid dropping it on your head once the screws are removed. Dispose of the ballast according to your local regulations.

Screw the new T8 ballast into the same position as the old ballast.

Follow the instructions that came with the ballast to wire the new ballast to the light fixture. Secure the connections with electrical tape.

Install the new T8 bulbs. Though these bulbs are thinner, they will fit in the existing fixtures.

Replace the plastic cover by snapping it into place. Again, work carefully to avoid damaging it.

Turn the power that runs to the fixture back on.

About the Author

Alexander Rudinski has been writing professionally since 2008. His work appears on the Nerve website, where he continues to work as a photographer and writer. Rudinski has a Bachelor of Science in communications, concentrating on documentary video, photography and professional writing. He graduated from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia.