Help with Fluorescent Lighting for Artist Studio

Sweetdog2September 22, 2012


I have an artists studio residency that has a fixture that takes two 96" single pin bulbs. I would like to get new bulbs that will give me the closest color lighting to natural daylight and not distort the color of the paint. Does such a thing exist?

One wall is all windows and faces southeast so during the day I am ok but I am a night owl.

I would really appreciate advice.

Thank you,


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2 options
1. Replace the T12 tubes with T8 & the associated hardware. Doable if you're handy.
2. Replace the fixture with a CR14 or CR24 LED light fixture. Cree has done a case study on a paint store that switched their fluorescent lighting to LED.

Here is a link that might be useful: Paint store lighting makeover

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 10:33AM
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Hello David,

Thanks for taking the time to answer.

This is a foundation studio residency award and I don't have the option of changing fixtures. What would the "associated hardware" consist of? What would actually change? What more should i know about the fixture other than the size and that it is single pin. I looked up T8 and see that they come in single pin.

What should I look for in the Color Rendition Index and Kelvin? I do not know what these numbers mean so I can not relate them to the real world.

Thank you.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 1:34PM
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Standard T8 tubes are bi-pin. The tubes are all 1" in diameter and come in various lengths up to 4' -F32T8.

Earlier generation tubes are T12 tubes which utilize a single pin.
The associated hardware would comprise of the tombstone shaped end connectors and an appropriate electronic ballast.

The CRI should be better than 80 as the higher the number, the more accurately
colors appear.

The most common T8 lights will have a color output around 3000+ kelvin (looks whiter). The color range will be between 3000 to 5000 Kelvin (for daylight color)

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 7:13PM
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Thank you. I am going to have to stay with the T12 and look for a CRI in the 90's.I have identified some bulbs but am having trouble finding them and i think that some may have been discontinued. The duro Vita-Lite, 5000, Duro Test Daylight 65, Lumiram Lumichrome.

I am going to try to talk with other artists and see what they do.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 2:43PM
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I would switch to T8s as
T12 lamps utilize a magnetic ballast which is less efficient than an electronic ballast, emits an audible hum and faintly perceptible flicker (60hz).

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 7:36PM
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I can vouch for Phliips TL950 fluorescent tubes (5000K, 98 CRI) being all but indistinguishable from daylight, but they too are available only as T8, with 48" length the largest. I've never had to deal with 96" tubes and have no idea what's available in that size. Single-pin preheat fixtures - wow this must be an old place.

Any way you could hang a new fixture near the drafting table and use that as your primary source of light if you can't change the existing ceiling lamps?

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 12:28AM
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Are we all on the same page now that you can get T8 "slimline" lamps, single pin in 8' length? I don't know about the quality (CRI) of the lamp choices in that configuration.

A few weeks ago I scored an awesome deal in a big box store. I was wandering through and noticed a 10-tube case of Sylvania Sunstick F96T12DSGN50/CVP (CRI 90) tubes on the bargain table with nine tubes in it. I had to ask for a price and they came up with $15. The point is that you might still be able to find some quality T12 tubes if you call around to lighting suppliers.

I was planning on changing most of my 34 8', T12 slimline tubes to T8, 4' but now I don't have to bother with all of them yet.

Changing to T8 will require an electrician, but might be worth it since it should not be an expensive proposition. Change to 8' T8 requires only ballast change, not sockets. If the place is artist space, the management should be sensitive to the quality of lighting and may be willing to make a small investment. They are going to have to do it soon anyway since getting T12 lamps and ballasts is headed towards difficult. Be aware that in many commercial/industrial buildings with large electrical services the lighting is not 120 V, but 277 V.

Temporary auxiliary lighting is a good suggestion.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 2:38PM
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BTW, single pin fixtures are all "instant start", no preheat, rapid start etc. Even those old ballasts should be relatively efficient from an energy standpoint, though they could be better from a frequency, and noise standpoint.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 3:00PM
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This is NYC, Manhattan to be exact, where nothing is cheap. Getting an electrician or getting the management to pay for anything is out of the question. Just getting reasonable space in the city is a godsend. I have to go with the 96T12. Yes, it is an old space that is available to 31 artists on a temporary bases, that is until they decide to renovate and kick us all out. To get this space is a competition and there is a waiting list, no less so I can not go around demanding things.

What was the box store that you saw the bulbs in?

I will talk to other artists and call around.

Thank you.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 3:52PM
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What big box store? It was Lowes, but it does not matter. You could probably walk into 100 of them and now find these tubes.

If the lights that are there now would suddenly "break" the electrician that would be called to fix them would probably change them over to T8 ballasts or swap the luminaires entirely to something with 4' T8s.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 4:22PM
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These give off very good light and should work with your existing fixutures - 96" T12 tube, single pin, 5000K daylight balanced, 90 CRI, bright.

Here is a link that might be useful: GE 13707 (F96T12C50HO)

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 4:41AM
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.... or perhaps these, which are similar but 6500K rather than 5000K. These will be slightly blue-ish daylight compared to the bright sunlight look of the above bulb.

Here is a link that might be useful: GE 14653 (F96T12C50HO)

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 4:46AM
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This is why random amateurs like me shouldn't give out arcane light bulb specifications over the internet, pretending like i know what i'm talking about....

The two GE bulbs I linked to in my last posts are "high output" 110 watt bulbs, type F96T12HO, rather than standard-brightness 75 watt bulbs, type F96T12. They will fit your fixture, but you'll probably have to change the ballast out as well as the light bulb tubes. The ballast would have to be designed for two high output F96T12HO bulbs, not F96T12. It's possible you already have a ballast designed for the 110 watt high-output bulbs, but they are less common. However, I don't know without looking at your fixture which type it is. You can find out by looking at the labelling on your current light bulbs - it should be at one end of each bulb (hopefully at least one of the two bulbs will have the print facing downward or sideways so it's visible). It should have some reference to the wattage (usually 60, 75, or 110) or to F96T12 or F96T12HO.

The ballast is usually located underneath a metal cover between the two bulbs. In some fixtures, it is uncovered. It's a small metal box, about 9" long with wires sticking out from both ends:

You may want to change to an HO ballast if you want it to be brighter, but otherwise it's easier (and cheaper) to keep the existing ballast.

Here's two bulbs that are standard (not high-output) 75 watt tubes, from Philips and GE. The Philips is slightly brighter, but otherwise the quality and color (90 CRI, 5000K respectively) are the same as the high-output bulb in the first link (I don't think I'd go with the 6500K bulb in the second link - too cool/blue, kind of like overcast sky).

F96T12 75 watt - Philips 423871 F96T12 C50 Supreme ALTO
F96T12 75 watt - GE C50 Watt-Miser

Hopefully you can find a local vendor for these, or you can order them from Amazon or an online lighting vendor, but I don't know how 8 foot glass tubes are transported without them breaking all the time.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 8:19AM
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> (I don't think I'd go with the 6500K bulb in the second link)

referring to the earlier posts in this thread, that is. The two links for the 75 watt bulbs at the bottom are both 5000K bright daylight color, similar bulbs from two different brands.

sry about the confusing instructions but this board doesn't have a way to make corrections to old posts.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 8:35AM
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I had not considered the possibility of HO 8' lamps and ballasts. The sockets are different as well as the ballasts. The HO tubes have recessed two-contact socket compared to the single pin in the "regular" 96" tube.

The trouble with a lot of the T12 lamps we see in catalogs is that you are not going to walk into a store and find many of them. Even when they were not outmoded by T8s they might not have been that common because full-spectrum, triphosphor, daylight lamps are more expensive than older halophosphate lamps.

Even in a lighting store they might want you to order a case. Maybe not, so it is worth calling around. The artist friends and associates might be the be the OP's best resource to find a source for a couple of tubes.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 10:13AM
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Sounds possible!!! Will be in the studio tomorrow and ck things out and let you know what wattage is already there and what others have done.

Thank you for all the useful info.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 10:14PM
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> Even in a lighting store they might want you to order a case.

yeah, that's going to be a problem. 8-foot T12 fluorescent light bulbs simply aren't sold as a consumer item, except occasionally at the big box stores but those are likely to be cheaps ones of the same type you're trying to get rid of. High-CRI 8' bulbs are a specialty item, and normally sold to commercial and industrial customers in cases of 15 bulbs. A quick search online found that Sylvania tends to cost less than the GE, and that the Philips doesn't seem to be available at all (I found lots of catalogs referencing it but no vendors selling it). The vendor below sells a 15-bulb case of Sylvania F96T12, 5000K, 90CRI bulbs for $120 not including shipping (which the site warns will be more expensive than usual 'because extra packaging costs are required to ensure safe arrival').

Is may be less expensive to turn off the overhead light and buy your own floor and desk lamps....

Here is a link that might be useful: Sylvania 29833

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 12:26AM
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Keep in mind that the Victoria is not likely to allowed to do electrical work outside of her owner-occupied home in any jurisdiction if she is even allowed to do that. Replacing ballasts falls within the forbidden category. Changing bulbs is most likely allowed by local regulations.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 10:03AM
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