Sylvania fluorescent lighting is a great way to get a lot of light output with relatively little energy usage. Engineers kept pushing the limit on this concept, and have produced a new standard fluorescent bulb; The T8. T8 bulbs save even more energy and produce a higher level of light output than original fluorescent bulbs, which are known as T12 bulbs. You can tell the difference between a T8 and a T12 by measuring the diameter of the bulb. A T8 bulb will be 1 inch in diameter, compared to 1 1/2 inch for the T12 bulb.
As with all fluorescent bulbs, T8 bulbs rely on ballasts inside of the fixtures in order to make them work. Ballasts are available from Universal, Magnatek, Advance, Osram Sylvania, among others. Almost all fixtures for circline bulbs come with ballasts already mounted and wired.
While a different type of ballast is needed for this type of bulb, the bulb fits into the same sockets and fixtures as the old style fluorescent bulbs. This makes it that much easier to retrofit your bulbs from T12 to T8.
Saving energy is not the only feature of the T8 bulb. In addition to this, the color rendering index (CRI) is better than T12 bulbs. CRI is the technical term for the way a bulb makes colors look to the human eye. The higher the CRI, the more subtle variations of the shade of color are seen. T12 bulbs were typically in the 60-65 range. The T8 bulbs range from 75 all the way to 95. (100 is the highest)
The attention to detail given by today's architects, office designers, and homebuilders demands flexibility in lighting. Manufacturers like Sylvania and GE knew that people would need more color choices with the new T8 bulbs than just warm white and cool white. You can find color temperatures of 3000 Kelvin (warm white), 3500 Kelvin (warm/cool blend)generally for home use. You can also find the 4100 Kelvin (cool white), 5000 Kelvin (pure white) widely used for offices and warehouses. You can even order the full spectrum light bulbs in 6500 Kelvin (daylight).
The very latest enhancement to T8 bulbs is the eco-friendly design. According to Sylvania, "Ecologic is a comprehensive program focused on addressing environmental issues at all stages of lamp life." They go on to say that bulbs in this category "are designed to meet the Federal Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) criteria for classification as non-hazardous waste in most states." If you are sensitive to the impact of hazardous material in the environment we live in, then energy saving T8 bulbs from the Ecologic line are for you.