Fix-It Chick: Retrofit a T-12 light fixture

The U.S. Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 dictates several reductions in the country’s overall energy usage including the phasing out of many inefficient light bulbs over the course of seven years.

Light bulb manufacturers have embraced these new standards, and as of Jan. 1, 2012, several types of light bulbs are no longer being manufactured in the United States.

The list of obsolete bulbs includes 100-watt incandescent bulbs and all T-12 fluorescent light bulbs. T-12 bulbs come in various lengths and configurations, but are all 1-1/2 inches in diameter. If your home has an older 4-foot fluorescent light fixture with T-12 bulbs, installing a T-8 retrofit kit may eliminate the need to replace the entire light fixture.

T-8 bulbs are 1-inch in diameter and use up to 24 percent less energy than their T-12 counterparts. Retrofit kits are available at your local hardware store and electric supply company.

Step 1: Turn off the power to the T-12 light fixture at the circuit breaker box. If the light fixture plugs into an outlet, unplugging the fixture will suffice.

Step 2: Remove the T-12 light bulbs and open the housing cover to expose the old ballast.

Step 3: Confirm that the new ballast requires the same input voltage as the old ballast and that the T-8 bulbs will fit into the old T-12 sockets.

Step 4: Make note of the ballast wiring configuration and cut the wires leading into the old ballast. Typically ballasts are wired with one white wire, one black wire, and two each of yellow, red and blue wires. If this is not the case, mark each wire accordingly before disconnecting the old ballast.

Step 5: Unscrew the ballast mounting screws and remove the old ballast from the housing frame.

Step 6: Mount the new ballast into the old housing and tighten the mounting screws to assure a snug fit between the ballast and the housing.

Step 7: Strip the wire sheathing back 1/2-inch from each of the wire ends.

Step 8: Attach the old fixture wires to the new ballast wires, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 9: Use wire nuts to secure each wire connection and wrap each connection with electrical tape for added safety.

Step 10: Reattach the housing cover and install the T-8 bulbs into the existing socket ends.

Step 11: Turn on the power and test your new energy efficient, up-to-date fluorescent light fixture.