Converting warehouse lighting from T12 to T8

My warehouse is lit by T12 based lights that seem like they are from 1970s or 1980s. The minus is that they look old, the plus is that they
are still around after all those years.
As we all know, T12 is being replaced by T8 and T5 lights.
This is all fine and dandy, but the old ballast technology seems to be a lot more reliable. I hear people complaining that all those "energy savings" end up being paid to electricians swapping those electronic ballasts, that die right after warranty expires.
First of all, is this a valid concern?
Second, I am convinced that the world knows how to make reliable electronic ballasts. It is just that the manufacturers choose to make crap, for the usual reasons. That said, are there T8 ballasts that are "honestly made" and reliable?
I am facing the fact that I need to do something about my lighting. I do not want to do something stupid.
i
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Ignoramus4193 wrote:

My shop lighting is 7 of the $15 dual T8 fixtures from 'Depot/Lowe's, some of the fixtures are now about 9 years old and still working fine, so I don't think it's a big concern.

Certainly the name brand ballasts that are sold as replacements are good, and in my experience even the cheapo original ballasts installed in cheapo fixtures are fine.

Don't buy the cheapest and don't buy the most expensive. Get quality name brand Lithonia or similar fixtures in bulk so you get the savings there, buy the lamps for them in bulk and US made and you should be good for quite some time.
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I have the same, but mine cost a couple dollars more and are only about 5 years old. Only thing I noticed is when the temps inside the shop get into the 50s they are slow to come to full brightness. So far haven't had to replace bulbs or ballasts. I think I have about 17 fixtures. In that same time I have had to replace 2 CFLs in the office inside the shop.
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On Wed, 28 Dec 2011 19:19:50 -0600, Ignoramus4193

As I understand it, T12 tubes are going away. But T8 tubes "usually" work fine with T12 ballast. I've seen it said the T8 tubes don't last as long in a T12, but no proof of that. Try some T8 tubes in a couple fixtures and see how that goes. No sense changing the ballasts if it's costing you nothing to keep them. --Vic
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Someone may correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think a T8 bulb will work with a T12 ballast.
Part of my job requires the conversion of T12 to T8 within our campus. We are changing all ballasts to T8 universal 120-277v. Sticking a T8 bulb in a fixture with T12 doesn't light the bulb.
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On 12/28/2011 8:19 PM, Ignoramus4193 wrote:

When the T8 ballasts first came on the scene, I don't think any that I came in contact with commercially, lasted more than a year. I couldn't say how many generations have past since then, but the current crop of electronic ballasts seem quite durable to me. Having said that, very often magnetic ballasts die a slow death, where as electronic ballasts go instantly, when they die. also a three or four light fixture would have more than one magnetic ballast, so the entire fixture doesn't die at the same time as with an electronic ballast.
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On Wed, 28 Dec 2011 19:19:50 -0600, Ignoramus4193

Is this a commercial warehouse? If so, contact the power company. Some are offering rebates for new lighting. We did our production and warehouse and the rebate was about $9000.
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On 12/28/2011 10:29 PM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

More corporate welfare financed by the little people.
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"Parker Farnsworthy" wrote

Likely not.
With the ever increasing demand for power (more PCs, microwaves, etc.) the electric companies are faced with the decision of upgrading the system or paying people to cut demand, and the cost of upgrading the transmission lines and transformers is much greater than the increased revenue of selling more electricity.
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wrote:

Where do you think that money comes from? You think the power company has a nest egg stashed away in the sock drawer for this?
No, they blow every penny that comes in just like the rest of us. When faced with either upgrading the system or paying people to cut demand, they go crying to the government for a hand-out.
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On 12/29/2011 8:58 AM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Yep, the only difference between a welfare check and a corporate bailout is the number of digits before the decimal place.
Either way, Joe "W-2" Wageslave gets stuck with the bill.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Exactly. There's nice little below the line charge on my electric bill every month called "Energy Conservation Fee" that funds these program in my area.
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wrote:

It's not money from the government, it's something worked out with the public service commission and paid for by consumers. You would also pay for the construction of a new power plant, if that was necessary.
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On Wed, 28 Dec 2011 22:38:35 -0500, Parker Farnsworthy

No, it is financed by other corporations. A portion of the bill goes to that category for rebates. The residential rebate is from a residential account. If you don't take your share, someone else is going to and you still pay into it.
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Yes, 100% commercial warehouse. 10k square feet. I got some quotes and I will be getting some rebates.
i
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IMHO, ballasts are a place where you both have to shop carefully, and where a brand like GE may mean you are getting better quality-control on the chinese crap (unless you happen to get non-chinese after all.)
Galesburg electric is one of the better online sources I've found so far - they don't carry (or at least list) all the variants, but they have some at very attractive prices relative to some other sources. If you get a wholesaler that will deal with you you might do better.
For your application, if 4' lamps, the $13.72 2-lamp or $17.25 4-lamp GE ultra max. Both 120-277V input. those are the lower light/lower power variant of those ballasts, and I don't believe that galesbug carries the higher light/power variants, but the places I found that did also cost a lot more.
$25 for 2lamp 8ft - Few bucks cheaper if it's 120V only, but I assume you probably have 277V lighting circuits with a 3-phase service; Perhaps not.
The 1970's "look" of your lamps probably comes with more steel and perhaps even real porcelain baked on (easy to clean, stays whiter) finish as opposed to the tinfoil-thin steel and crappy white paint of "new" fixtures. Swap the ballasts, clean and go.
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I was also reading about it. Looks like, like you said, I can replace ballasts and start using T8 bulbs, right? And I can hire a $12/hr guy to do it? (I am too busy by far)
i
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-snip-

Got a BOSCES or trade school nearby? Might be a good project for the kids-- bring them 1/2 at a time.
If all your lights are the same, it is easy once the pattern is figured out. In my dozen I ran across 4-5 different ways that they were wired up. [I don't remember any particulars, but remember a fair amount of head-scratching went on during the project]
Oh-- and I have to say these have been more reliable than my collection of cheap shoplights that I had accumulated. 2 years down and not even a bulb has needed replacing. About 1/2 of them are on 12/7.
Jim
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On Wed, 28 Dec 2011 22:59:03 -0600, Ignoramus4193

Not if you want your insurance to cover the warehouse. I believe you'll need to hire an electrician for that to keep the insurance coverage. HE can hire the $12/hr guys and get away with it. :(
-- Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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On Wed, 28 Dec 2011 23:44:43 -0500, Ecnerwal

We've replaced six GE ballasts that are three years old. I think they were made in China too. They were under warranty though.
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