Almost Time To Stop Using Those T12 Ballasts


If you’re still using those old, creaky, outdated 4-foot T12’s and the magnetic ballasts that go with them, here’s a reminder – you won’t be able to buy those ballasts new, starting July 1st. 

That’s because the Department of Energy will ban the manufacture of the ballasts starting on that date – no more replacement ballasts for the T12’s. And that’s probably going to tick some people off, who either didn’t know the ban was coming, or forgot about it. 

You’ll still be able to buy the electronic ballasts, of course. But the magnetic ballasts are going the way of The Vega and New Coke. And so are T12’s, which will no longer be made after 2012.

This whole thing started back in 2005, when ballast manufacturers had to stop selling magnetic ballasts for new fixtures with full wattage T12 lamps. A year later, light fixture manufacturers had to stop using the ballasts in their T12’s. 

It’s not like people aren’t still buying the T12’s – we sell our share. I also read something the other day that said 30% of all 4-foot fluorescent light sales in the U.S., are T12’s. That means a lot of people are going to wake up July 1st needing to retrofit their T12 lighting sockets, otherwise they’re going to be scrambling to find replacement ballasts from anyone who happens to have any left in stock. 


But let’s face it, the technology is outdated, and there are far better alternatives to the T12 – the T8 and T5 are much more efficient, provide better light and last longer. Plus there are a load of incentive programs to motivate companies to upgrade to more advanced lighting technology, whether they’re still using the T12’s or even more outdated incandescents. 

There are some T12’s that will manage to avoid the Government’s axe. Here’s the list, from The National Lighting Bureau: 

T12 dimming ballasts that dim to 50% or less, two-lamp F96T12HO ballasts designed for outdoor sign applications where temperatures may fall to as low as -20F, and magnetic ballasts with power factors less than 0.90 designed and labeled for residential building applications. 


If that’s you, then you’re safe. If not – or if you’re not sure and don’t want to get caught with your T12’s down – call us at Adventure Lighting and let us help. We’re at 515-288-0444. 

As for me, I can’t wait to see those T12’s gone – don’t let the door hit you in the ballast. 🙂  



Jack Huff, along with his son Brian and wife Sue, owns and manages Adventure Lighting in Des Moines, Iowa. For more information, go to

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