The shop seemed a little dimmer than usual in the last few weeks. I thought perhaps it was because the sun was shining so bright outside or perhaps it was time for new glasses. But I happened to look up and noticed another light fixture had gone out. That made three of the twelve in the shop were toast. Flourescents also loose a significant portion of their brightness (40 percent or more) as they age and this too was becoming noticeable throughout the shop. The lights were on my list to get looked at and in fact I had spoken to our electrician about reviewing our lighting options only last week. This morning one of the two giant high bay fixtures failed to fire making the shop noticeably dimmer.
It is time for some serious thinking and a big investment as well. The workshop was outfitted with T12 flourescent fixtures when we built it more than a decade ago. Those old fixtures are now obsolete and the bulbs are getting difficult to source. They quit making them well over a year ago. The magnetic ballasts inside the light fixtures are also obsolete and failing one by one. The replacement electronic ballasts don't last nearly as long as the old style. Big changes can't be put off any longer.
We have two choices. The first is to put in replacement T8 flourescent fixtures which are more efficient than the old T12's and are a proven technology. The second option is to go with new LED fixtures, a much more expensive option but one that will pay for itself with the energy savings and longer life in only a few years. Because the labor is the same with either option that portion of the transition is a wash... unless we go with T8 flourescents now to save some money in the short haul and then upgrade them to LED fixtures in a few years as the technology matures and the prices come down. But this would actually mean we pay for the installation and price of fixtures twice. The fact is that T8 flourescents are really just a transitional technology and LED's are the future.
The question is... when does the future begin?