LED Tubes Will Make Fluorescents Seem Old-Fashioned

Cree, front-runners in the scramble to replace traditional forms of illumination with greener LED sources, has just announced the release of a new type of tube light designed to tackle one of the biggest energy hogs in Corporate America: fluorescent overhead lights.

The new Cree T8 bulb looks very much like the traditional T-8 fluorescent tube we've been using since the 1970s. Except, however, that the new Cree uses LED rather than inert gas which allows it to turn on instantly (regardless of how cold the weather is) without flickering as well as operate at a 30 percent energy savings over the traditional method. The Cree T8 outputs 2100 lumens at 21 watts with a CRI (color rendering index) of 90. That's very good, even the best current generation of fluorescent bulbs top out around 10 points lower.

What's more, the Cree's are rated to 50,000 hours of operation (just north of 17 years if run for 8 hours a day, 365 days a year) and are designed to fit into existing ballasts so, unlike other LED fluorescent replacements, you won't have to get up into the ceiling and rewire anything, just plug the LED tube in the same way the older flourescents do.

The new LEDs are a bit pricey upfront (as all LED systems currently are) with an MSRP of $30 each. However, these bulbs are rated DLC compliant (the business version of the Energy Star program) which means that installing them could earn you a hefty rebate (anywhere from $5-15 per lamp) off your company's monthly utility bill in addition to the inherent energy savings.