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T5 and T8 lighting fixtures have been the standard light fixture used to brighten up offices, schools, industrial warehouses, and homes for years.
With their tube shape and decent length, their advantages include the fact that they have the highest efficiency in lighting larger rooms.
Both the T5 and T8 fluorescent bulb sizes have been the backbone of office lighting, school lighting, and industrial lighting for a few generations but what is the difference between T8 vs T5 lighting?
What Does The “T” Stand For?
The “T” stands for “tube” and is a simple way to identify the lighting and separate it from other forms of fluorescent bulbs. The T is found in both fluorescent lighting as well as LED lights.
Different codes are made for different levels of lighting, depending on the levels of energy efficiency and the size of the bulb in diameter. The T doesn’t relate to the performance directly, but it can affect the application.
The “5” in the T5 bulb represents the size of the light bulb and the fixture. It is 5/8 inches (16 mm) in tube diameter.
The T8 represents 8/8 inches in diameter (1 inch or 26 mm).
Fluorescent tube lengths are expressed in feet, with 8 foot and 4 foot being the most common length of fluorescent bulbs.
Comparing T5 Vs T8 Lighting
|Size (Diameter)||5/8 inch||1 inch|
|Lamp Efficiency||104 lumens per watt||92 lumens per watt|
|Lifespan||20,000 hours||20,000 hours|
Typical Uses of Each Type of Tube Diameter
T8 lighting is most commonly used in more commercial areas and lighting applications:
- School lighting
- Factory lighting
- Warehouse lighting
- Office lighting
- Hospital lighting
T5 lighting is used in both commercial and residential areas:
- All of the above
- Kitchens (it was the best option for under cabinet lighting before LED)
- Living Rooms
- Construction sites
- Indoor Plant Growing (also known as grow lights)
T8 vs T5
T8 vs T5: if brightness is your main requirement, then T8 is the better option. If efficiency and modest, yet still bright lighting is what you need to acheive, consider t5 tubes. buying t8 vs t5 depends on your requirements more than anything else
The T8 fixtures win the brightness factor between the two bulbs. Coming in with an average of 2,950 lumens, it just beats the T5 in terms of performance (2,900 lumens).
If you are needing something really bright, then the T8 will be your better option.
If, on the other hand, you want something bright, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the brightest light on the market, then the T5 light could be the best choice for you (they’re also a more energy efficient option according to the Department of Energy).
However, there are still a few more factors to consider before choosing the right light including efficiency and cost.
T5 vs T8 Bulb – Which Has Higher Energy Efficiency?
When it comes to the efficiency of the light, there are a few factors and differences to consider.
The quality of light (lumens) is what determines the brightness. The quantity of light or lamp efficacy (otherwise known as lumens per watt) determines the efficiency.
Overall, when you put T8 vs T5 against each other, the T8 wins in overall brightness.
However, T5 are the more efficient light bulbs with 104 Lumens per watt compared to the T8’s 92 lumens per watt.
This means that the T5 is able to produce a higher lumen output with less energy. Even though it isn’t quite as bright as the T8, it will be using less energy overall (which can mean savings in electrical bills).
You can work out your fluorescent tube running costs with an online calculator.
Which Bulb Fixtures Costs More?
Before rushing into a purchase based on the efficiency factor, it is also important to evaluate the initial cost of the T5 vs T8 bulbs (whether you’re fitting fluorescent tubes or LED lighting tubes).
It is important to evaluate the application and determine the cost-benefit of T5 over T8 light bulbs.
A regular 4 foot T8 Light costs on average $4.00 while a regular T5 LIGHT costs about $7.00 on average.
Because of the efficiency, you may want to go right ahead with buying the T5 lamp over a T8 lamp or T8 fixtures. If you are energy conscious, this is definitely the better choice.
However, it also depends on how often you will be using the lights. If you will be running the lights for hours and hours every day, it may be worthwhile to invest in the T5 as it will be able to use less energy overall.
But, if you really aren’t going to be running the lights for most of the day, you’re probably better off going with the T8 vs T5 lighting as it is cheaper up front.
Plus, if you have a bigger area, those lights can add up. Even though it may be a difference of only about $3 more per T5 light, if you’re filling a 5,000-10,000 square foot space, it can get pricey.
That’s why you must carefully consider each factor before buying something. Otherwise, you could be spending nearly twice as much as you have to.
By factoring in how much you will be using the bulb, you can decide if the better efficiency of the T5 justifies the long term cost in terms of maintenance and upkeep.
Why Converting to LED Beats Fluorescent T5 And T8 Tubes
The T5 and T8 fluorescent light tubes have been the backbone of industrial warehouse lighting and residential areas for decades. It’s often hard to remember that as technology advances, there are newer and better options out there.
When it comes to looking at an alternative to the T5 and T8 fluorescent tubes and the illumination they provide, it’s important to look at overall efficiency and cost of converting fluorescent tube lights to LED tube lights.
The T5 fluorescent tube light used to be the best choice in terms of life expectancy, efficiency, brightness, and cost.
However, LED replacements save on average 45%-65% of the energy costs compared to fluorescent T5 and T8 lamps. You can see right away with the longevity factor how this is so:
T5 and T8 lighting last about 20,000 hours on average.
In comparison to LED fixtures, you’re looking at 35,000 to 50,000 hours (some even go to 200,000 hours). This means you could be getting double the life span of LED tube lighting vs fluorescent T5 and T8 tube lights.
This means fewer replacements, less overall repairs, maintenance, and upkeep. LED light bulbs and fixtures also don’t require ballasts, which is less to go wrong. You can also get more Lumen output for your dollar when compared to fluorescent bulbs.
WIth LED lighting fixtures, you have more options with light efficiency. Because many LED tube lights can have dimming controls, you are able to lower the brightness (and lower the energy use if necessary), whereas, with fluorescent lighting, you can’t, the ballasts are designed to only provide a set voltage.
When using an LED lighting fixture, you’re also able to make more use of the color rendering index (CRi) when working on color-sensitive projects (such as design studios). Specialist manufacturers exist with a range of color temperatures, which in turn affect the color rendering index (CRi values).
LED tube lighting is more expensive up front compared to fluorescent T5/T8 lighting, but when do a comparison of life expectancy (and longer warranties), the LED light comes out on top regardless of the application, saving you more money in the long run.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re converting from fluorescent lamps to LED for the first time, you may have some questions. Here’s the most common questions that we get asked.
Are T5 and T8 bulbs interchangeable?
T5 and T8 bulbs are generally not interchangeable as each tube has a different diameter. You need the ballasts to marry up with the pin sockets which can vary across manufacturers. Some ballasts can be tweaked, but it’s generally recommended that you don’t attempt it.
Are T5 brighter than T8?
No, T5 bulbs are not considered brighter than their T8 counterpart. T5 bulbs are typically more energy efficient than T8 lamps, but with advancements in LED technology this may no longer always be the case.
What is the difference between T5, T8 and T12?
The only difference between T5, T8 and T12 bulbs is the tube diameter. A T5 bulb is 5/8ths of an inch in diameter, a T8 lamp is exactly one inch in diameter (8/8ths) and a T12 tube is 12/8ths, or one and a half inches thick.
How do I know what size fluorescent tube I need?
Every fluorescent tube should have its information printed on either end of the tube. This information will normally tell you the length or size of the fluorescent tube, as well as the pin type.