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T8 Bulbs vs. T12 Bulbs — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on January 24, 2024
T8 Bulbs are more energy-efficient and have a smaller diameter (1 inch) than T12 Bulbs, which are less efficient with a larger diameter (1.5 inches).
T8 Bulbs vs. T12 Bulbs — What's the Difference?

Difference Between T8 Bulbs and T12 Bulbs


Key Differences

T8 Bulbs, with a diameter of 1 inch, are known for their energy efficiency and better color rendering than T12 Bulbs, which are 1.5 inches in diameter and less efficient. Both are types of fluorescent tubes but differ in size and energy usage.
The T8 Bulb is an advancement over the T12 Bulb, offering improved energy savings and a longer lifespan. T12 Bulbs, being older technology, are generally less efficient and have a shorter lifespan.
T8 Bulbs use electronic ballasts, which are more efficient and offer better performance than the magnetic ballasts used by T12 Bulbs. This results in less energy consumption and better light quality from T8s.
The light output of T8 Bulbs is typically higher and more consistent than that of T12 Bulbs, making T8s more suitable for environments where precise lighting is important.
Environmental impact is another difference; T8 Bulbs are considered more eco-friendly due to lower mercury content and energy consumption compared to T12 Bulbs.

Comparison Chart


1 inch
1.5 inches

Energy Efficiency

More energy-efficient
Less energy-efficient

Ballast Type

Uses electronic ballasts
Uses magnetic ballasts

Light Output and Quality

Higher and more consistent light
Lower and less consistent light

Environmental Impact

More eco-friendly
Less eco-friendly

Compare with Definitions

T8 Bulbs

Energy-efficient fluorescent tubes with a 1-inch diameter.
We replaced our office lights with T8 bulbs to save on energy costs.

T12 Bulbs

Higher energy consumption compared to more advanced options.
Switching from T12 bulbs to T8s has cut our electricity bill.

T8 Bulbs

Modern fluorescent lighting offering better color rendering.
The art studio uses T8 bulbs for their accurate color depiction.

T12 Bulbs

Older technology in fluorescent lighting, now being phased out.
Most of the T12 bulbs have been phased out in our building.

T8 Bulbs

Tubes using electronic ballasts for improved efficiency.
The new T8 bulbs flicker less due to their electronic ballasts.

T12 Bulbs

Traditional fluorescent lighting with magnetic ballasts.
We're replacing the T12 bulbs and their magnetic ballasts for an upgrade.

T8 Bulbs

Eco-friendly lighting option with lower mercury content.
Our company chose T8 bulbs for their environmental benefits.

T12 Bulbs

Known for lower light output and quality than modern tubes.
The T12 bulbs in the basement give off a dimmer light.

T8 Bulbs

Suitable for precise lighting needs with consistent output.
T8 bulbs provide the consistent light we need for detailed work.

T12 Bulbs

Less efficient fluorescent tubes with a 1.5-inch diameter.
The old warehouse still has T12 bulbs installed.

Common Curiosities

Can T8 and T12 bulbs be used interchangeably?

No, they cannot be used interchangeably due to their different diameters and ballast types.

What is the main difference between T8 and T12 bulbs?

The main difference is in their diameter and energy efficiency; T8 bulbs are 1 inch in diameter and more energy-efficient, while T12 bulbs are 1.5 inches in diameter and less efficient.

Do T8 bulbs have a longer lifespan than T12 bulbs?

Yes, T8 bulbs generally have a longer lifespan compared to T12 bulbs.

What type of ballast do T8 bulbs use?

T8 bulbs use electronic ballasts.

What type of ballast is used in T12 bulbs?

T12 bulbs use magnetic ballasts.

Why are T8 bulbs considered better for the environment?

T8 bulbs are considered more eco-friendly due to their lower mercury content and reduced energy consumption.

Is the light quality from T8 bulbs better than T12 bulbs?

Yes, T8 bulbs typically provide higher and more consistent light quality than T12 bulbs.

Can I replace T12 bulbs with T8 bulbs?

Yes, but you may need to change the fixtures or ballasts to accommodate T8 bulbs.

Are T8 bulbs more energy-efficient than T12 bulbs?

Yes, T8 bulbs are more energy-efficient compared to T12 bulbs.

Is there a significant cost difference between T8 and T12 bulbs?

T8 bulbs might be slightly more expensive upfront but offer cost savings in the long term due to energy efficiency.

Are T8 bulbs suitable for all types of lighting applications?

T8 bulbs are versatile and suitable for many applications, but specific needs should be considered.

Are T12 bulbs still widely used?

T12 bulbs are less commonly used now due to advancements in technology favoring T8 bulbs.

Has there been a phase-out of T12 bulbs?

Yes, there has been a gradual phase-out of T12 bulbs in favor of more efficient lighting technologies like T8 bulbs.

How do T8 bulbs impact energy bills compared to T12 bulbs?

T8 bulbs can significantly reduce energy bills due to their higher efficiency.

Do T8 and T12 bulbs have different color rendering capabilities?

Yes, T8 bulbs generally have better color rendering capabilities than T12 bulbs.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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