So you think it’s cheaper to leave the lights on all day?

This is an urban legend.

It is a commonly held belief that frequent switching fluorescent tube lights off and on will significantly reduce lamp life and negate energy-cost savings.  Frequent switching does reduce lamp life, although that is less of an issue with newer, more sophisticated lamp and ballast technologies. However, the electric cost of operating a lamp far exceeds its purchase price. For example, the cost to operate a T8 fluorescent lamp for 1,000 hours (out of 30,000 hours of rated life) will typically equal the cost of the lamp. The energy-cost savings from turning off lamps then, is far greater than any potential replacement costs resulting from shorter lamp life.

The minimum time period between switching is still the subject of debate. Recommendations from industry experts range from two minutes to 15 minutes. The question comes down to the actual operating conditions at your facility and the type of lamp and ballast technologies used.

Energy Saving Recommendations

The following tips will help you to reduce operating costs for tubular fluorescent lamps:

  • Turn off lights whenever you leave a room.
  • Install occupancy sensors with 15-minute on-time intervals in areas with varying occupancy, such as rest rooms and conference rooms.
  • Install dimmer switches with controls to take advantage of natural lighting.
  • Replace older T12 lamps and magnetic ballasts with more efficient T8 or T5 lamps and electronic ballasts.
  • Consider group re-lamping to maintain overall lighting performance and reduce maintenance costs.
  • Include lamp cleaning as part of an overall lighting maintenance program to improving lighting performance.

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