Cree, the North Carolina-based lighting manufacturer that’s done a pretty damned good job at convincing consumers to swap out energy-sucking incandescents for low-cost, high-quality LEDs at home (having Lance Reddick as a TV spokesperson certainly doesn’t hurt — when the man talks, you listen), has now turned its attention to commercial office environments where flickering, unflattering fluorescent tubes have long reigned supreme.
Billed as the “first no-compromise LED T8 replacement tube,” the newly unveiled LED T8 Series is the centerpiece of Cree’s new push to bid adieu to the more than 2 billion linear fluorescent lamps currently used in North American buildings — schools, hospitals, grocery stores, airports, and, most likely, your office, where the oppressive overhead lighting renders things, well, ghastly. According to Cree, these constantly buzzing, eyeball-burning fluorescent tubes so ubiquitous in commercial environments consume a staggering 42 percent of all lighting electricity in the United States.
The benefits of switching out linear fluorescent tubes with LED T8 replacements are similar to switching out CFLs — the overhead fluorescent tube's petite and also maligned cousin — with A-shaped LED bulbs. Compared to existing T8 fluorescent tubes, Cree’s LED alternative offers 30 percent energy savings and dramatically superior lighting quality. Plus, they’re mercury-free making them easier to dispose of (i.e. they’re not considered hazardous waste) when they do eventually putter out after 50,000 hours of use (about 17 years if used for 8 hours a day, 365 days per year).
While there are indeed other T8 LED replacement tubes on the market from industry competitors such as Philips, Cree claims to have the best color rendering index (CRI) of the bunch at 90 while also offering near-universal compatibility of 90 percent — they’re designed to easily fit into existing ballasts so it’s unlikely that any pesky rewiring of hardware will be required. The four-foot-long miracle worker’s output is 2100 lumens at 21 watts (100 lumens per watt). In terms of color temperature, the lamp will be available in both 35000K and 40000K varieties.
The suggested retail price for Cree’s LED T8 Series is $30. This is, of course, noticeably more than a standard T8 fluorescent tube but, again, the appeal here is energy savings, markedly better light quality, and a significantly longer lifespan — you’ll save big in the long run (Cree estimates the lamps will pay for themselves in 3 years or less). The Cree T8 LED Series is also DesignLights Consortium-compliant, making them eligible for rebates that could as much as half their sticker price. A 5-year warranty completes the package.
Is striving for 100 LED adoption, particular in the commercial sector, a bit bananas? Sure it is. But if there was one fearless entity to lead the charge, I’d put my full confidence behind Cree, a company that’s gone from sacrificing chocolate Easter bunnies to leading the energy-efficient lighting revolution within the span of a couple of years.
And joining the new LED T8 Series along with the company’s best-selling 40- and 60-watt LED replacement bulbs, Cree also recently debuted an LED replacement for halogen PAR38 bulbs — you know, those clunky n' chunky one-directional beasts commonly used for indoor track lighting and exterior flood/spot/security lights.
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