When opting for T5 fluorescent technology it is always important to look at the application and determine the cost benefits and analyze the increased efficiency. These two factors alone will justify any substantial investment until rebates or incentives can level the playing field. The marketing and innovative design of T5 systems have left many end users wondering whether they should consider T5 luminaires instead of T8 luminaires, especially in new construction and retrofitting of T12 magnetic systems. Here is why T5 technology is the best linear fluorescent solution and how it applies.
There are several different factors that determine levels of efficiency. Quality of light measured in CRI (Color Rendering Index), quantity of light measured in LPW (Lumens per Watt) and co-efficiency of utilization. The numbers being used for CU are general for those used in the low level such as 12 feet and under multi-residential environments. Considering these general factors, it is obvious that T5 is the best.
With all factors weighed equally, a T8 is 40% more efficient than T12 and T5 is 51% more efficient than T12. The end user can often lower the light output by 9 or 10 percent in order to recover the efficiency without any real impact to the perceived light levels. Between the three, T5 is the premium product, whose research and development has reached a real-time application point. LED is the most popular buzzword and concept but is still a mythical creature when it comes to implementation and development to more than a few lighting industry insiders. The truth is T5 is superior to T8, and LED is years away from making a widespread impact.
The bottom line is that T5 is superior to T8 in that it creates more usable light. However, it is not a necessarily the superior technology that renders the T8 obsolete (as is the case with T12). It is however, the most important transition technology the commercial lighting market may ever see. What the T5 technology has going for it is the extensive energy efficiency and ability to gain utility rebates, recouping most of the upfront cost. Saving the most kWh brings the most rebates from energy companies and most dollars for incentives. Before LED really arrives, it will be T5 technology to hold the world over.