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T-12s defeated

Created 7/4/2013 by Carrie Cobb
Updated 11/26/2014 by Ben Fowler
940 views • 10 comments
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To understand how the EPACT GSFL ruling is affecting non-residential lighting baselines, BPA hired Navigant Consulting to collect market data from lighting distributors. We expected a nuanced answer, yet what we found was clear and consistent.

We found this: T-12s are a market in collapse, and sales of 32w T-8s dominate.

The following figure shows the sharp drop-off in T-12 sales since the standard went into effect:



And in the total market for linear fluorescents, T-12s are a tiny sliver of the merchandise being sold, as shown in the following figure:

We will be sharing these results at the Regional Technical Forum July 16th and on a BPA brownbag webinar July 31st (phone and webinar details will be posted on Conduit soon).



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Comments (10)
John Wilson on 07/08/13 on 05:30 PM (Pacific Time)
This research project wouldn't have been half the success it's turning out to be without the help of our industry partners and the trade ally network. My hat is off to those of you who participated.  Also- a lot of great resource sharing and teamwork between BPA and NEEA... like if the Lorax and Captian Planet teamed up to stamp out every last T12.

Now for the hard part.... implementing.
Carolyn Weiner on 07/10/13 on 02:20 PM (Pacific Time)

Can I get access to your report?


Carolyn Weiner
Carrie Cobb on 07/10/13 on 05:13 PM (Pacific Time)
Hi Carolyn, We don't have a final report yet, but I will email you the slides we are presenting to the Regional Technical Forum July 16th. We are still finalizing them, so expect them in a few days; I will also post them on Conduit.
Carolyn Weiner on 07/11/13 on 10:56 AM (Pacific Time)
Fred Gordon on 07/11/13 on 11:42 AM (Pacific Time)
The huge drop in sales may say more about the existing equipment stock as well as the Federal standards.  To buy a T-12 bulb you need a fixture to put it in.  The ongonig commercial building stock assessment should tell us a lot about where the residual pockets of T12 fixtures are, and how much they amount to. 

I'm very interested in whether the study could tell us anything about the sales of high-CRI T-12's- which can slip through a loophole in the new Federal standard.  Carrie, any clue from the study about whether these are becoming a higher portion of T-12 sales?  This may tell us whether there's much point in chasing after the residual T-12 stock- or whether customers are just converting to T-8 ballasts as their T-12 bulbs fail of their own volution.  The latter seems to stretch the imagination, but the alternative once existing store stocks of old T-12s are depleted is a bulb that doesn't match all the customer's other bulbs in terms of light appearance- so it's difficult to know what people will do. 
Jim Bellamy on 07/11/13 on 01:18 PM (Pacific Time)
Did you collect data about the corresponding sale of ballasts? Should we assume their has been an equivalent surge in sales of compatible ballasts during the same reporting period?
Carrie Cobb on 07/11/13 on 09:13 PM (Pacific Time)
Jim, we did collect ballast data, and see the same drop in T-12 ballasts which is pretty consistent with the drop-off we see. Fred, I think the program push to get the T-12s out of the stock could definitely be contributing to this drop-off since 2010. From the qualitative interviews distributors indicated they thought that agriculture, industrial and rural areas with large end-users could be hold-outs for T-12s, market segments which unfortunately the CBSA wouldn't tell us much about. Also, on your question about the compliant T-12s, if I understand your question correctly, what distributors told us was that when a 40w T12 burns out, only about 25% will replace it with a compliant or stockpiled T-12. This is qualitative, of course. I'll add that this is not the answer we expected: we went into this research expecting a really nuanced answer and for the research to continue into the fall. But, when we got this data back we realized that the T-12 market was miniscule and in complete collapse. We will continue to research the maintenance market to understand it better for program opportunities and implications, and we are going to quantify non-programmatic savings, but we got our T12 answer much, much sooner than we had anticipated.
Eric Brateng on 09/12/13 on 12:20 PM (Pacific Time)
While sales of T-12s have delined our staff are still finding them in place in customer facilities.
Fred Gordon on 09/12/13 on 01:09 PM (Pacific Time)
Like PSE, we're still seeing some out there, and will continue to retrofit them.   However, a pilot of anecdotal sightings don't tell us how far we are from the bottom of the barrel.  We're focusing on building the volume of other lighitng measures so when we hit bottom it won't hurt so much. 
Carrie Cobb on 09/12/13 on 02:29 PM (Pacific Time)
you are correct Eric and Fred that there are still T-12s out there (and likely will be for years). However, this research isn't looking at what is in the population: when the current Commercial Building Assessment is completed early next year, we will surely see remaining T-12s in existing buildings. In 2009 it was about 25% of floor space; since then we have seen a huge program push so the saturation should be significantly smaller.
For existing T-12s, what these data do show is that the T-12 lamp sales are collapsing making these systems  challenging and very expensive to maintain.  The federal standard is moving T-12 lamps out of the market and there are very few ballast sales (and will be no ballast sales next year I believe from another federal standard). Therefore, there are strong market forces outside of our programs to upgrade these systems, which is why we are moving to a current-practice baseline, so that we do not pay for those savings happening due to the federal standard and market forces.