Cree aims to make fluorescent tubes obsolete with LED T8 series
By David Szondy
May 5, 2014
Fluorescent lights aren't on the top of many people’s favorites list. Ever since they were introduced at the New York World’s Fair in 1939, they've been notorious for their cold, bluish light that is the definition of “uncomplimentary” and accompanied by flickering and a telltale buzz. Cree, Inc. is aiming to relegate fluorescent tubes to the pages of history with its new T8 series of LED tubes that promise LED-level energy savings and greatly improved light quality.
LEDs have proven a useful alternatives to both incandescents and fluorescents when it comes to bulbs with their durability, economy, and promise of better light, but when it comes to tubes, LEDs haven’t quite made the grade. It’s easy enough to shape an LED to match a fluorescent tube, but the color leaves much to be desired and they aren’t as bright as they need to be.
The Cree T8 is a new series of tubes designed to replace conventional fluorescents. According to Cree, the T8 is capable of putting out 2,100 lumens per tube for 21 watts of power, or 3,800 lumens for a two-tube fixture. In part, this is due to the oval shape of the tubes which is designed to avoid wasting light illuminating the inside of the fixture.
With a 30 percent energy savings, Cree says that the tubes will pay for themselves within three years. It has a near-universal driver compatibility and the company claims that the T8 has the industry’s best color quality, capable of covering both the 3,500 K and 4,000 K color temperature ranges.
Cree is claiming a 50,000-hour lifetime for the T8, which is also dimmable and compatible with over 90 percent of electronic ballasts (that is, the circuitry used to regulate fluorescent tubes), including instant start, programmed start, and rapid start ballasts.
“Similar to what we've achieved with the Cree LED Bulb in the residential market, the Cree LED T8 Series is revolutionizing the commercial lighting market with a product that saves energy, delivers superior light quality and is universally compatible with nearly all existing fluorescent T8 ballasts," says Chuck Swoboda, Cree Chairman and CEO. "There’s no reason to install another linear fluorescent tube again."
The Cree T8 is available in the US and Canada for a suggested retail price of US$30.
The video below introduces the T8 series of LED tubes.