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Lighting The Key To Energy Saving

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Published: 22 Apr 2013      

The technology already exists to save energy. A global switch to efficient lighting systems would trim the world's electricity bill by nearly one tenth. The carbon dioxide emissions saved by such a switch would, dwarf cuts so far achieved by adopting wind and solar power.

Nineteen percent of global electricity generation is taken for lighting, that's more than is produced by hydro or nuclear stations and about the same that's produced from natural gas. The carbon dioxide produced by generating all of this electricity amounts to 70% of global emissions from passenger vehicles, and is three times more than emissions from aviation.

Not many inventions last for more than 100 years without major modifications. The incandescent light bulb developed a century and a quarter ago by luminaries including Sir Joseph Swan and Thomas Edison, is one, and still produces almost half of the light used in homes around the world.

Is it time to ban the bulb?

Incandescent bulbs are very inefficient, converting only about 5% of the energy they receive into light.

The biggest consumer is the fluorescent tube. Commercial and public sector buildings account for 43% of the electricity used for lighting; and here, fluorescents dominate. But florescent tubes are also still used in the home and even though they are slowly being replaced by more efficient lighting systems, there needs to be an answer to reducing the energy they use.

Here comes a bright idea

Energy-efficient lighting can seem such an obviously good idea that it is hard to comprehend why it is not used everywhere. For the individual, the most obvious switch to make is from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent systems (CFLs), marketed in many countries as "energy-saving bulbs",

 The total costs to the consumer associated with buying and then using the two types, have a significant difference. But not all light fittings are adaptable to the new bulbs or tubes. Yes your general every day bulb can be easily swapped and the latest bulbs give off, a much improved light, but what about the florescent tubes.

Generally, there is a mix of T8 and T12 tubes that are being used in theUKtoday. The T12 is the archaic model, which is huge in size, highly inefficient (high energy use with poor light quality) and has a short use life span (<10'000 hrs.). The other is the T8. It is somewhat more efficient, is a bit smaller (diameter), than the T12 and has poor to decent light quality and also has a short use life span (<10'000 hrs.). Neither the T8 nor the T12 are very environmentally friendly, due to their relatively high mercury content.

The fluorescent light tube of the future is the T5, which is already being manufactured by Osram, GE and Philips. It combines all the newest technologies into a sleek 5/8 inch diameter light tube. It is highly efficient, (lower energy costs), provides very good light and boasts a use life span of over 20'000 hours, and it is environmentally friendly (contains 38% less glass and phosphors and only very little mercury). All this in itself would already make the T5 a desirable alternative to the T8 or T12.

But here is one major problem. The T5 is approx. 2 inches shorter than the T8 or T12 and requires a electronic ballast (ECG) to make it light. What does this mean? It means that if you choose to use T5 tubes in replacement of your T8 or T12 tubes, you must also replace the complete fitting, another added cost as this task should be carried out by a suitably qualified electrician. 

The Idea!

You don't have to replace your existing T8 or T12 fitting (or ballast) in order to use the T5 tube!

How?

The answer

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The Adapt5 is a new type of ballast or more appropriately called Electronic Control Gear (ECG) that is designed to work specifically with T5 fluorescent light tubes.

The AdapT5 adapter is designed to bridge that 2 inch gap between the existing T8 or T12 fixture and the shorter T5 light tube. Once the adapter has been attached to the T5 tube, so as to extend the total length of the T5 by 2 inches, it can now be installed into the existing T8 or T12 fixtures.

But the AdapT5 adapter can do much more.

The technology inside the adapter, together with the brand new T5 tube, can create energy savings of up to 70%*! In addition, since the adapter operates at 35'000Hz (existing magnetic ballasts operate at 50Hz to 100Hz), there is no stroboscopic flickering.  Attachment of the T5 tubes into the adapters and then installation of the converted unit into the existing T8 or T12 fixture requires no specialist person involvement and is completed in seconds.

These and even more beneficial features, such as lower operating temperature, dim-ability (in preparation), better light quality and illumination, less maintenance, elimination of conventional starter and increased productivity through better lit environments make the AdapT5 adapter simply revolutionary. Designed and certified in theUKto fit all British and European fixtures.

I decided to give the Paul Lawrence theUkand European distributor for this product “Applied Link Ltd ” a call to ask some questions, they were happy to help and i had a fare few questions to raise.

AdapT5 Questions and answers:

Q. What does adapT5 stand for?

A. AdapT5 is the product name of the energy saving tube light adapters which Applied Link one of the distributes in the UK & Europe. AdapT5 has been designed on the concept of retro-fitting existing fittings, adapting them to use and benefit from T5 technology.

Q. What does retro-fitting mean?

A. Retro-fitting means installing Energy Saving (Energy Efficient) lighting products without any modification on the existing fittings. The retrofit concept is to minimize the costs faced by users to achieve energy efficiency.

Q. What are the main highlights of the adapT5 adapter?

A. Conventional T8 tubes consume 36 / 58 Watt, but the magnetic ballast has an additional power loss of about 7 / 14 Watt, hence total system consumption is around 43 / 72 Watt. The system power consumption of the adapT5 adapter is only 31 / 40 Watt including the losses of the magnetic ballast, which can remain inside the fitting.

Q. It is mentioned that adapT5 consumes less wattage i.e. 31 Watt, does this mean that the light output will also be less?

A. Even at a consumption of 31 W, the light output of the adapT5 system is comparable to the conventional T8 tube lights. The light output can be measured and proved using a lux meter.

Q. All energy saving products available in theUKand European market are very expensive. Is it the same case with the adapT5 adapter?

A. AdapT5 can offer an average energy saving of approx. 40%. The average return of investment therefore is normally under 2 years

Q. The savings sound too good to be true. How can the user have such big savings?

A. The additional power losses of T8 and T12 magnetic ballasts are around 20 to 25%, whereby the power losses of the AdapT5 adapters including the remaining magnetic yoke are only around 13%. Furthermore the tube wattages of T8 / T12 are much higher than the tube wattages of T5 tubes. Both together will usually give the user typical savings of around 40% compared to T8 and T12 fittings with magnetic ballasts.

Q. Why should one use electronic ballasts? What's wrong with the existing magnetic ballasts?

A. As mentioned earlier, adapT5 does not usually (though it can) replace the existing ballast. For ease of installation adapT5 is using the existing magnetic ballast in combination with its own electronic ballast.

Q. Can the AdapT5 adapter be used if there is already an electronic ballast installed in the fitting?

A. Yes, AdapT5 can still give up to 25% saving compared to the T8 electronic ballast. The existing electronic ballast needs to be disconnected and an adapT5E unit has to be installed instead.

Q. It is known as a fact that electronic ballasts operate on a high frequency (40,000 Hz) and sometimes this creates problems with harmonics in computerised environment. How can the user be sure, that the adapT5 ballast will not interfere with other electronic equipment?

A.  The adapT5 adapter has been tested and certified complying with European norms required such as EN 60598-2-1.89 and EN 60598-1.00. 

Q.  What is the average life time of the adapT5 adapter and the T5 tube?

A.  The life time of T5 tubes is around 20,000 hours and the life time of the built-in ballast is around 50,000 hours even though trials have exceeded this.

Q.  What is the difference in light output over the life time between T5 and T8 fluorescent tubes?

A. TheT5 tubes are designed to last for a longer period of around 20,000 hours. The depreciation of lumen output is only around 10% after 10,000 hrs. compared to 35-40% for standard T8 tubes. This reduces the service and maintenance costs and will give the user additional savings.

Q. What does better quality of light mean?

A. The colour rendering index (CRI ) of T5 tubes is 85. CRI translated in common language means that T5 tubes are 85% close to natural sun light.

A Big Thank you to the team at Applied link Ltd for answering my questions.

In the future we may see even more efficient systems. LEDs hold out the most promise; currently four times as efficient as incandescent and fluorescent, manufacturers are aiming for 80% efficiency by the end of the decade, which would represent a 16-fold improvement on the traditional bulb and tube. Until then we have some great retrofit alternatives, which have been designed in theUKand are selling worldwide.

Now that’s something to be proud of.

It looks like we have a bright and more cost efficient future to look forward to.